Introducing The New Student Showcase

When we first had the idea of introducing a new ex-student showcase to our website, we had no idea we would be quite so spoiled for choice with a long list of Oxford College of Garden Design postgraduates who have, often very quickly, gone on to stamp their individual marks on the world of international garden design.

What we realised, as we started to invite our former students to feature in our showcase which goes live later this year, is that we really can boast an amazing and long - 17 years since we first started our postgraduate diploma course in residential landscape architecture - track record of training some of the best-known landscape designers anywhere in the world.

When I started the course, all those years ago, I wanted to do two things; give something back to the world of garden design and share my passion for good design with others but I had no real idea, back then, many of our 300 or so Alumni would be among the next generation of top designers.

Interestingly, the very word Alumni comes from the Latin alere which means to nourish and nourishing raw talent among our students is one of the most exciting aspects of teaching our garden design course which has been described by our industry as probably the most prestigious course of its kind, anywhere in the world.

The new student showcase will launch with the work and urban design philosophy of London-based designer, Charlotte Rowe ( who you will know, if you ever have the pleasure of meeting her, is a one-woman force of nature.

After a long and high profile career in public relations, Charlotte joined our course in September 2003 and within a year was featured in a Channel 4 programme on mid-career switches across a range of different professions. Never one to let the grass grow under her feet, Charlotte capitalised on this exposure and her designs were soon being featured in both the specialist garden press and mainstream magazine supplements.

Today, just 5 years after she walked away with her postgraduate diploma in Residential Landscape Architecture, Charlotte can name her price and pick and choose her projects, both at home and overseas.

Other alumni who have achieved a similar high profile alongside respect from their peers include Sarah Price who studied fine art before joining our course and who, after winning three RHS medals during her rapid rise to the top, has just landed the prestigious honour of designing the Olympic botanical garden for the 2012 games.

I have always maintained that once trained, our students need to work as designers for between three and five years before they finally find their own style and way of interpreting the design ethos we have taught them. Just as a writer must find their own “voice”, a designer needs to find that special something that makes their work unique and it is seeing the early emergence of this magic ingredient in our student designers that gives me a real buzz every time I walk into the classroom at the start of our academic year.