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Kristian Reay RHS Young Designer Of The Year Interview

Kristian Reay Young Designer Of The Year Interview

Pro Landscaper spoke to Kristian Reay who has recently been awarded RHS Young Designer of the Year to discuss the concept around his garden, future plans and how he came into the industry.

How did it feel to win young designer of the year?

It was fantastic. It’s all a bit of a daze as well because the build was two weeks of flat out work. I have been reflecting on it a little bit more now than at the time. It was great though, I probably spent about eight months working on it in total – it’s nice to achieve your goal.

Photo credit: RHS Neil Hepworth 

Photo credit: RHS Neil Hepworth 

Photo credit: RHS Neil Hepworth 

Can you tell me a little bit about the garden?

The garden is called The Phytosanctuary Garden; it’s all about raising awareness of Xylella. At the moment it’s quite prevalent in the Mediterranean, so that’s where the start of the planting came from. The centre of the garden features a multi-stem Olive, symbolic of the damage that the disease has caused.

There’s quite a lot of grass in there as the disease is spread by xylem-feeding insects in their natural habitat. That’s quite important, not just the disease but also the vectors. The garden includes a wall, an engraving and a piece of artwork depicting how Xylella can effect a plants.

How did you get into the industry?

I’m a landscape architect, I work for Macgregor Smith in Bath. I studied landscape architecture at Leeds Beckett University, I got my master’s degree there. I’m just doing my chartership at the moment.

I saw the Young Designer of the Year competition and thought I’d like to have a go! It’s been really helpful working somewhere like I do because it means I’ve got lots of people to bounce ideas off. They really helped mentor me through the whole thing.

The RHS has a ban in place surrounding certain plants, including the ones used in your design. Were there any health checks?

Absolutely. The RHS policy is that any of those plants which are on that list must be signed off by the show. They have to be UK grown or sourced, meaning either they have been in the UK for 12 months or grown here. The lavender was all UK grown by Robin Tacchi Plants and the Olive tree is from Deepdale Trees. It was the last one they had – they’ve stopped importing them because of the risk.

We were working with the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the BRIGIT project at the show. It’s not a case of saying to people you can’t have these things, its more just about saying if you want these plants in your garden you have to get them from appropriate sources.

Photo credit: RHS Charlotte Graham 

What are your future plans long term and short term?

I would like to do another show garden at some point in the future. I like the challenges of landscape architecture, working in those kind of complex environments. In the long term I’d like to have a go at a Chelsea garden at some point, that would be one of the things that’s on the list. In general, my aim is getting involved in interesting projects and having a portfolio of projects to be proud of.

For more information on Kristian Reay visit his website here. 

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