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Remembering John Brookes

John Brookes, FSGD and MBE has passed away at the age of 84. Renowned across the industry for nigh on creating the garden design profession, John began designing gardens back in the 1950s and completed projects all over the world.

In tribute to his legacy, The Garden Museum has introduced an exhibition called: ‘John Brookes – The Man Who Made the Modern Garden’, which will be open until 25 March 2018. The exhibition displays works across his 55-year-long career, from early ‘grid’ designs to his more recent projects.

Aiming to inspire the new wave of garden designers, John had published over 25 books about landscape and garden design, the first ground-breaking book being ‘Room Outside’ released in 1969, aiming to revolutionise garden design across all sizes and scopes.John Brookes

“John Brookes played not only a mentoring, but also a parental role in my life for many years,” said Andrew Duff MSGD of Inchbald School of Design. “He was an icon of garden design, and it is not an exaggeration to say that John Brookes has influenced us all as designers.

“He had the rare ability of being able to design a garden as he was standing in it, he could read a space and temporary sidestep the ordinary functional requirements and the brief of the client and visually listen to the architecture of the house, the local vernacular and interpret the lifestyle of the client.

“John will be remembered for his extensive writings, lectures and his ability to communicate garden design to the masses. Above all he showed us that ‘a line is not simply a line but a conversation’.”

When asked about John influence in his life, Andrew tells us: “John took on a parental role guiding me through my early career and pushing me in the right direction.  He was furious when I got married announcing ‘I will never make it as a designer once I have children, I should dedicate my life’.  I have spent a long time proving him wrong.”

Sharing her memories of John, Ann-Marie Powell MSGD told Pro Landscaper: “I am hugely saddened by the loss of John Brookes. Like so many, his books were the backbone texts used in my garden design course back in the mid-nineties, and I still refer to his books today.

“Without his pioneering works and passion, I’m not sure garden design would exist as the profession it does today.”

When asked about her memories meeting John, Ann-Marie tells us: “The first time I met John was in the makeup chair whilst filming for Channel 4 at Chelsea in 1999. I was in my mid-twenties and overwhelmed at meeting one of my icons.

“I needn’t have worried – John’s sharp wit soon put us all completely at ease, and in no time at all he had us all in hysterics through his warmth, his droll observations, and wonderful giggle! It’s not only his trailblazing, ground-breaking influence as a designer I shall miss, but his generosity, sense of fun and kindness. He was indeed one of a kind, whose light I am sure will never go out. I shall treasure his memory always.”

Martina Barzi and Josefina Casares both comment:”We first met John Brookes  in 1992 at Kew Gardens where we had travelled to from Argentina to follow his Garden Design Course. We had just got our degree in the Buenos Aires University and were already working at garden design but meeting him changed our way of looking at the profession, indeed he made us look at it as a profession.

“His vision, his passion, his sense of humor, his high standards, his humane outlook, he was a true teacher for us.”

John was always giving back to the industry, teaching for two years at Inchbald School before founding the Clock House School of Garden Design.

John’s legacy shall continue, as garden designers past, present and future will look back and see that he was the one to start it all.

If you have any fond memories, photographs, or a story about John you would like to be added to this tribute, please get in touch at: max.dodd@eljays44.com

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