First in a series of three interviews, we catch up with Charlotte Murrell, one of our very first Look Out For interviewees to see how her career has progressed since creating the Hampton Court Palace garden Wild in the City.
What has changed for you since 2011?
2011 was a big year for me. I graduated from college and my career kickstarted with my garden for the Student Design and Build Award, Wild in the City, at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show that summer. It catapulted me from college student to Landscape Designer almost overnight and I had to quickly learn about the real world of business and what it meant to be a garden designer, which was both challenging and very rewarding.
After Wild in the City I went on to design the BALI trade stand at Chelsea Flower show in 2013. In 2014 I designed the feature garden for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show main sponsor that year, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, which PC Landscapes built.
I’ve been really lucky to also freelance for both Hillier Landscapes and PC Landscapes at different points in my career.
I picked up some really valuable knowledge while working with Paul Cowell (PC Landscapes) over the years and still find his passion for our industry and his attention to detail to be almost infectious!
I found freelancing was a brilliant way to experience working with other people and learning about the industry at a time when full time employment wasn’t an option for me.
I’ve worked for some great clients, most of whom I remain in contact with. My own projects ranged from large country gardens to small town gardens and I’ve worked with various landscapers over the years and learnt much from them about construction and craft.
I have really enjoyed working on my own projects and learnt an awful lot about running my own business over the last few years, often the hard way! However, after the experience of working with Paul and his team, I still liked the idea of working in a design practice. For various reasons I did not want to become an employer myself, but was finding increasingly that I had just too much of my own work to be able to keep up with it all.
It was then that I heard of a position for a Landscape Designer with Taylor Tripp Landscape Design in Winchester, where I happen to live. I already knew of Nick Tripp and Richard Taylor and admired their work, the timing and opportunity seemed too good to miss. I took a leap of faith, as it was hard to give up my autonomy and my own business, but I haven’t regretted it for a minute.
How does it compare to what you hoped you would be doing in the future in 2011?
It’s a bit back to front to what I envisaged I’d be doing, but I have to say I’m really enjoying it. Working as part of a team with the support and skills of those around you to consult as designs and projects progress has been so useful. Taylor Tripp work on some really lovely projects, larger and more traditional than my previous work, so a new and exciting challenge.
What are some of your biggest achievements?
Managing to support myself and my family on my own with no experience of business before beginning. Making it work for me as a single mum while raising my boys – definitely hard work and not at all easy at times, exhausting in fact, but it’s a great sense of achievement and it makes me smile when I look back and realise that somehow it seems to have worked!
Having happy clients, many of whom have become friends, who still keep in touch and tell me how much they’re enjoying their gardens. To me, that is the best and most important part of what I do.
Building successful show gardens/stands, albeit only three, with happy sponsors. Show work can be a huge challenge and very pressured, but highly addictive and very rewarding. I would still love to be involved again in the future.
What do you hope will happen in the next few years?
I look forward to continuing in my position at Taylor Tripp, working on larger and more complex projects in some really beautiful locations. It’s great being part of a team and I’m enjoying not working every night and weekend now that I’m employed! I hope to continue to work with skilled landscapers and crafts people, learning from their expertise and knowledge as I go. Lastly, with a bit more time on my hands now, I hope to relearn how to paint with oils again and really enjoy something creative for creativities sake.