Meet our next BALI Chalk Fund student of the year nominee

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Humaira and Ingrid

We continue to hear from our BALI Chalk Fund student of the year nominees and as to why they are joining the industry and what they love about it. This time we hear from a design perspective with nominee Ingrid and her Tutor Humaira, from KLC

So how did you get into horticulture/design/landscaping?

Ingrid: “The first garden I designed was my own while we lived in London.  When we moved to a more rural property, I had the challenge of designing a larger space and I loved every step of the process and although I liked the end result, I was aware that something was lacking, but I couldn’t put my finger on what.  I decided to train as a garden designer so that I could properly understand the concepts and processes that a professional would undertake, but at that stage not sure of what I would do with the knowledge, past my own garden.  I enjoyed learning about garden design so much that I decided to try and make a (second) career out of it”.

Humaira: “I was working for Reuters and really enjoyed the buzz, the people and my job, but wanted more. We had just bought a house and had gotten interested in interiors and gardens, but gardens excited me and made we want to learn more. I was offered a package to retrain and saw this as my way forward”.

Was this career path ever highlighted at school?

Ingrid: “Never, but I did go to school quite a while ago”!

What do you love about this industry?

Ingrid: “The ability to transform a space into a beautiful and green environment is both a technical and creative art.  Gardens continually change with the seasons and your palette is constantly evolving and can sometimes be quite temperamental.  It’s a hugely challenging industry but also really rewarding”.

Humaira: “The generosity of all involved. I have no background in Horticulture or design, my parents liked gardens but didn’t have any formal training. I’ve learnt everything I know in the last 15 years and mostly from courses, working and volunteering with people as well as asking questions (and writing down notes! That’s my tip to everyone in this industry, have a notebook with you at all times! Plant’s people are always giving you pearls of wisdom, but I need to write them down to remember them)”.

Why do you think people should consider this as a career?

Ingrid: “The landscape industry is growing, especially these last 2 years with COVID, Garden designers have been in huge demand.  People are more aware of the health benefits of being in nature and so both public and private gardens are in high demand.  Hopefully this will keep driving the demand for the landscape industry even further”.

Humaira: “It is an exciting industry that is growing and evolving (no puns intended). The industry presents many possibilities and solutions, and we as an industry are continually asking questions. Why are we using certain materials? Are there other better alternatives? Can we build our gardens with more than just aesthetics in mind? Which plants are more resilient and will be able to cope with the climate changes that are predicted in the next 20 years? It seems to me we are building a new way of thinking about design and our responsibilities to the earth, as well as to our clients. Why wouldn’t you consider this as a career and why wouldn’t you want to be part of this”?

What has been the highlight of your design/horticulture course?

Ingrid: “Meeting the other people on my course has definitely been the highlight.  I have made some great friends who share my passion for landscapes, and they are a great sounding board for any crazy ideas I might have today.  We still meet up for garden visits and its amazing to see what we’ve all achieved so far”.

What advantages does it have to receive an education in horticulture/design/landscaping?

Humaira: “We are professionals. We want people to understand our worth, so we do need to be able to communicate our work and ourselves in a way that helps people understand what we are bringing to the party.

To be formally educated is not everything, as many people I know in the industry have a life-long interest and have created businesses around that, and I wish I were able to pull their knowledge into my head by osmosis! But for the most part, and this is me included, I came to the industry as a career changer, and I needed to be able to learn skills and communicate my thoughts and projects effectively. This is what a good education gives you, the ability, and skills to be able to work in an industry but also the confidence to communicate effectively. That is what we try to give our students at KLC and that hopefully shows in our graduates when they start to work”.

What’s your advice to the next generation coming into the industry?

Humaira: “Work hard, play hard, but mostly don’t forget why you are here and what you want to build. We must all look after ourselves and the planet, but we still need to be happy and have fun otherwise what is the point? The course I run at KLC is intense and all-consuming in order to get you industry ready, but when you integrate what you have learnt with life, remember to build in fun and happiness”.

What are your plans for the next 5 years?

Ingrid: “I’m currently working at a garden design and build practise in London, and my immediate focus is learning as much as I can to be the best designer I can.  I have daydreams of starting my own garden design practise, but who knows when that may happen, I’m just seeing where my current path takes me first”.

What would your plans be for spending the prize money if you won?

Ingrid: “Champagne and plants for my garden”!

Humaira: “Not sure yet, but if it happens, I hope we can make it count”.

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