Workshop – James Basson

Chelsea Flower Show 2013

James Basson, France

Workshop times are displayed on the Registration page

James is described by Louisa Jones as a masterful exponent of Mediterranean gardening, which (she noted at our 2013 Conference) perpetuates a long-standing partnership between human beings and their environment, tested… for millennia[1].
In essence, Basson carefully studies local conditions and plants for potential use, and keeps maintenance to a minimum. His dry gardens do not require upgraded soil, plants are chosen for microclimates and are not watered after initial planting. This discourages mosquitoes and boosts native bees and butterflies.

His plans embrace changing seasonal colours in the landscape and he is drawn to the Sheffield School[2] promoting naturalistic, complex planting schemes with no particular regular pattern. But he also points out that such schemes can disregard microclimates, and urges recreating nature with water spilling out from the base of walls .. disappearing into the ground.. or finishing in pools.

Pursuing his passion for sustainable landscapes and planting design, James left England in 2000 for the South of France and set up Scape Design with his wife Helen. They work as a team and with her training in classical civilisations, some projects are enriched with cultural content.

His brilliant plantsmanship and design work has led to a raft of medals and awards. If, like him, you believe that sustainable gardening has to be the future then you will not find a better exponent of the art!


[1] p13 Louisa Jones. Mediterranean Gardens, Model for Good Living (Bloomings Books).

[2] Reference websites of James Hitchmough and Nigel Dunnet. The latter says (we) have established a body of research and practice relating to the naturalistic use of herbaceous perennial plants in a wide range of contexts. Our approach, typified by workable, sustainable solutions for public space, with high public appeal, and rich in biodiversity, has come to be known as ‘The Sheffield School’ of planting design.



Workshop Topic One: Creative Design Solutions – ‘Thinking outside the box’

(Additional class now offered – 11am-12.30pm Monday 21st Sept)

This is an interactive discussion where, when confronted with a blank canvas, people are led to thinking beyond a lawn, a border and a straight path. The workshop will look at ways to:

  • integrate a story or a personal memory etc into space
  • harmonise the garden with its surroundings
  • work with what we have on site in terms of soil type, hard materials etc.

It will focus on pushing the boundaries of the design process, physically and philosophically.


Workshop Topic Two: Challenging spaces – Dynamic solutions

We all have those areas where we just don’t know what to do in the garden. The site may be too shady, too steep, too damp, have poor soil, be an area stuck between two buildings or subject to any one or more of the myriad challenges that landscape design presents.

By looking at solutions inspired by the natural landscape we discuss how to deal with these difficult areas to transform them from trouble to triumph!