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Palmstead Soft Landscape Workshop | January 23 2019

Pro Landscaper speaks with Nick Coslett about the Palmstead Soft Landscape Workshop which is now in its eleventh year.

How did you come up with the concept of the workshops?

I originally had the concept in the early Nineties. At that time nursery open days attracted few customers, but an event with notable industry speakers did. Thanks to the ongoing commitment from Palmstead the event has blossomed and I’m proud to say it has become a significant item on the industry’s calendar. We are now preparing our 11th annual event, something that I could not have envisaged in the early days. It’s thanks to the remarkable list of inspirational speakers we have had over the years, along with the rich array of exhibitors, that it has become such a popular event.

What inspired this year’s concept?

The workshop at Palmstead has always tried to balance inspiration about designing with plants alongside up-to-date technical and research dissemination, plus (on occasion) some politics.

The awareness that green is good for us is a big part of this year’s topic. Also, what our industry achieves best is collaborative working and not confrontation, so the encouragement of this is worth exploring.

Does the workshop benefit Palmstead?

By putting on a great-value, high-calibre event we represent what Palmstead stands for: integrity, quality and a deep understanding of the landscape industry it supplies. Delegates leave at the end of the day and spread the word that Palmstead is committed to the landscape industry, and that benefits the company and the wider industry.

How have the speakers been chosen this year?

We wanted Dr Ken Thompson a year or two ago, but our diaries unfortunately didn’t work. He is great at debugging horticultural myths using science (if you haven’t done so, read The Sceptical Gardener). I’ve admired John Wyer for many years and his cerebral approach to re-structuring his company and preparing it for the future. All of his staff know the company’s mission statement – how many companies in our industry can say that? Andrew Wilson last spoke in 2010, and we’ve since seen the rise of the garden designer as planting specialist to many master planning landscape architects. As an educator of garden designers, does he have something which landscape architect courses don’t provide? Plus, I really wanted to invite our industry bodies along (we’re thrilled to have Sarah Morgan from the Society of Garden Designers) to say how they are working with each other, defragging our £13b industry so the policy makers can take notice. There will also be lots to talk about with stimulating discussions and breakout sessions, all chaired by award winning garden designer Helen Elks-Smith.

Why is it important to gather the elements of the landscape industry together?

Because it’s only when we all get together, we realise that we share the same goals and interests. It’s a massive industry employing close to 200,000 people and contributing £13b to our economy. By bringing the sectors together the policy makers can see us with greater clarity.

Why should people attend?

“It’s professional nourishment.” This is a quote from a delegate from a few years ago that has really stuck with me. It’s a great opportunity for networking and continuing our lifelong learning.

Who should attend?

Any landscape and garden professional who is involved in plants, be that design, planting or management, which I think is a much better description than maintenance. We attract landscape architects, garden designers, horticulturists, landscape contractors and greenspace managers.

To book your place for £36+VAT, visit

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