With summer in full swing and our outdoor spaces looking lush thanks to the spring showers, we were inspired to have a chat with garden designer Freddie Strickland. The RHS Young Designer of the Year 2021 Finalist shares his tips for finding garden inspiration, how he reuses candle jars, and the candle that reminds him of home.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and what drew you to gardening?
I was inspired to get into the industry from a fine art background through an emerging love of plants, and soon thereafter taking ownership of my own green space. It was a tricky coastal garden in need of renovation and became a place to learn and make mistakes.
My grandmother was a fantastic gardener and loved all things horticultural, I’m sure she had something to do with it too.
You're a RHS Young Designer of the Year 2021 finalist - what do you think makes a garden design special?
To form a connection to a garden you have to be able to see yourself within it, tending to it, and using it as an extension of your own home.
Like fragrance, gardens can evoke strong emotions; they can excite, calm, inspire, empower, amuse or renew. Gardens are personal, so aside from the functionality of the space, I judge the success of a garden by the emotions conjured from being within it.
What’s the creative process behind creating garden designs and how important is fragrance when deciding which plants to include and where?
The location, aspect, climate, accessibility, and soil make many decisions for you – even before I build a brief with a client to incorporate their needs for the garden.
Concepts are formed through getting a real understanding of all these factors, then getting them on paper.
Fragrance can be a starting point but is often considered later on in the design process when I’m choosing the right plants for my client to enjoy, based on their likes and dislikes.
What’s the most challenging part of being a garden designer and what tips do you have for gardening novices looking to make the most out of their outdoor spaces?
Unlike architecture, when working in the landscape you are dealing with a space that is constantly growing and evolving. Maintenance is vital to establish a garden as the design intends, and when everything comes together it can be an incredibly rewarding process.
I recommend getting out and visiting public gardens as a brilliant way to get inspired, and to borrow ideas for your own outdoor space. You’ll be amazed at the diversity of gardens we have here in the UK, no two are alike.
If you were going to make a scented candle inspired by your RHS garden design ‘On Tropic’, what would it smell like?
Sweet and rich compost, fresh morning dew, a woody verdant forest.
How do you use fragrance within your day?
Working with plants! With scent preferences being so personal in a garden, plant choices are made following lengthy discussions with clients, including visits to other gardens to help understand their likes and dislikes.
Which smells remind you of…
Home: Diptyque ‘Baies’ candles, My granny always had one burning and it’s an absolute classic, this tradition has continued into my parent’s home, and is creeping into mine.
Holiday: Watermelon, sweetness.
Childhood: Baked rice pudding just out the oven, heaven.
Friendship: Fish and chips over a pint of tribute.
Spring/Summer: Roses, delicate and perfumed.
Autumn/Winter: Bonfires, with the scent lingering in your hair and clothes.
Candles, Incense, or Diffusers - and why?
Candles, they make you want to gather around them and can be a wonderful shared experience.
Three things you do to relax…
Swim, yoga, and spending time in gardens.
How often do you light scented candles and do you have any favourites?
Most days when at my desk, they really help to draw me into a project and focus on nothing else. I don’t have a favourite as I need variety to enjoy each candle. I have been getting into smokier fragrances recently, especially in the winter.
How do you reuse your candle jars?
They actually make pretty great seed jars if they have a lid.
Read: Derek Jarman, Modern Nature.
Watch: Bridesmaids, the 2011 classic.
Listen: Ever see a diver kiss his wife while the bubbles bounce about above the water? By Shirley Ellis
Do: Wild swim.
Eat: Your greens.
Learn: To grow plants, you’ll never look back.
Freddie is available to be commissioned for garden design, planting design, and installation.
Check Out These Scents...
We’ve selected a few candles that we think Freddie would enjoy based on the answers given in this interview.
As soon as Freddie mentioned the notes in his imagined garden candle Balmoral by Cire Trudon sprang to mind. It’s a fresh herbaceous scent with notes inspired by wet ferns, young plants, and morning meadows. There’s also an earthiness added by anise and pine sap.
Another candle that hints towards soil, compost, and woodiness is this fragrance inspired by a British cemetery. It features intense, resinous pine notes with green, moist moss and a brooding musk.
There aren’t many fragrances as nostalgic as the fragrance of greenhouses – the new plant growth, warm soil, and still air leave an indelible mark on even the most novice gardener. This scent by Earl of East features a blend of vine tomato, parsley seed, and basil.