At our penultimate masterclass of this year at Oxford College of Garden Design Luciano Giubbilei (pronounced Ju-bbillay apparently!) spoke about his passion and inspiration for the gardens he makes. Starting as horticulturalist at Villa Gamberaia and inspired by the images of Balthazar Korab (and who could fail to be inspired by this genius' images of Gamberaia?!) he studied at Inchbald (94-95) before launching into his, now stratospheric, garden design career. His first client was Kelly Hoppen and as he flipped through image after image of 'small' gardens in Holland Park, Kensington and Chelsea, Nottinghill etc we drooled at his budgets and use of soft and hard landscape materials. Not many designers can say they would fund £3/4 million in plants just to see a garden done, even if the client didn't pay at the end of it.. (they did pay of course and the garden looks divine). Alongside the trademark multi-stem Amelanchier the influences of Gamberaia are evident as is the drive for perfection in each exquisitely executed garden. It hadn't occurred to me that they were flowerless until he pointed out that his Laurent Perrier Chelsea Flower Show garden in 2009 was his first time using flowers in a garden. Hard to believe and yet his experience as a florist (before studying at Inchbald) clearly made him no novice. His genuine enthusiasm for Crocus, who supplied his plants and helped install them (even picking off slugs and every damaged leaf prior to judging!) was a good reminder that finding excellent partners to work with is vital if one is to succeed.
Laurent Perrier Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2009
If you have not heard him speak, DO. He is engaging and fascinating. His desire for perfection not hidden and his love of his work apparent. The last garden he showed is the beginning of the next phase for him, a vast spread in Morocco, classical, maybe minimal? but ethereal, Pennisetum and pink roses in 10x10m blocks swaying under glorious aged olives, he mentioned only two more species in the planting but that was it.
The appreciation for and skillful use of light shone through again and again capturing that elusive moment when a garden takes your breath away with the glory of nature.