Gardening lectures and talks

Designing gardens for climate adaptation with Mark Laurence

Ref: SGL09658

Suitable for all


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About this course

Explore how and why we must adapt our gardens and landscapes to respond to climate change. As widening extremes of British weather bring unique challenges to our environment.

Course Description

The day is split into three parts: the first an introduction, what we might expect from our future climate, climate zone shifts, temperature increases, flooding and ecological systems decline. Climate change in the UK is hard to predict because there are so many variables that impact us as an island. Will we become more Mediterranean, or will the Gulf Stream cut us off and we become colder? We must be prepared for all possibilities.

The second section is on resilient design principles, how we respond to the consequences of climatic change and work with new realities. Water may become scarce, but in any case, should we be irrigating our gardens? What plants do we choose that adapt to extremes of drought, sporadic heavy rain and floods? What do these plants do for our ecology, what is ‘native’? How do we change the nature of our design principles, should we use less hard landscape and more plants? What about our material choices, do they effect the climate?

The third part is looking ahead further and formulating a response which goes further than resilience – which is essentially a passive reaction – to that of the creation of New (or Novel) Ecologies to adapt to new climatic zones and conditions. We must abandon ideas of a native ecology that fits a particular region and actively help nature move its flora and fauna to areas where suitable climates now exist. We will look at a few samples from across the globe that show how new ecologies can be assembled and understand that this is a constant process in nature and that there is no fixed or ecological climax. Much of this pioneering work we can do in our gardens, which become literal seed banks and refuges for plants, insects, birds, animals and of course, ourselves.

Please note this course will take place in The Old Library, at West Dean College, so please use the College car park.


Timetable for Garden Lectures

Students should arrive by 9.30am for registration.

Classes are from 10am - 3pm.

Lunch is included.

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Please wear/bring suitable outdoor clothing if you wish to visit the gardens. You may find it useful to bring a notebook and pencil.


Mark Laurence

Mark Laurence has been a practicing landscape designer for 35 years. Learning from direct apprenticeship and experience, he is a Chartered Horticulturalist and committee member of the Society of Garden Designers. He specialises in sustainability and future thinking on landscapes. 


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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