Garden season has arrived! We had a chat with Leonie Cornelius to find out a little more about our Super Garden Judge and Brand Ambassador, her garden design background and plans for 2017.
Can you tell us a little about how you got into garden design?
I originally thought I wanted to be a singer and began by studying Music Management. When I realised that wasn’t for me I did a course in Interior Architecture. My father was a town planner so I always had a keen interest. Around the time I graduated, the industry was going through a tough time and there were no jobs in interior architecture. It was my mother who was a keen gardener who suggested that I should study Garden Design. I started a distance learning course with the KLC School of Design in the UK.
When I finished the course I was trying to figure out the best way to get clients. I saw the advertisement for Super Garden and decided to apply. Wihtin a week I had a client and was being filmed by a TV crew!
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get most of my inspiration from the people that I am working with. If I was designing for myself and my tastes all of the time, I think my designs would get very boring. Working with different clients makes your explore new ideas and concepts.
Do you have a favourite garden?
I am a designer so my favourites change all of the time but if I have to choose I would say the Alhambra garden in Spain. I also love my own garden and if I had more time I would like to continue to develop it.
You won Super Garden in 2012 and went on to win Gold at Bloom the same year. Can you tell us a little about your exerpience of being a contestant?
It was definitely one of the hardest things I have had to do. The budget was only €5,000 so one of the biggest challenges was trying to make sure it stretched as far as possible. I had a great builder friend who really helped me out. It was 5 weeks of constant work in all kinds of weather. Everything went smoothly until the last week when the teleporter loaded with soil cracked the entire lane up to the house!
During the filming, I never actually even thought about winning so when they announced my name it was a total shock. It was straight back to recreate the garden at Bloom but I used some of my learnings from the frist garden. After winning Bloom it was a bit of a whirlwind and I instantly had clients which was fantastic.
Super Garden 2017 is coming, can you share any sneak peek with us? A little something just to get us even more excited!
This year’s Super Garden is really exciting. The show is taking on a little bit more of a creative feel and we have some amazing designers and very deserving home owners. The stories are really fascinating too- I’m super excited about all the gardens. Maddie’s clean fresh colour palette, Callum’s architectural lines, Martin’s rainbow fun, Ashling’s Scandinavian den and Des’s terraced old and new combination. There’ so many amazing stories, I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished gardens and the finished shows!
You’ll be creating a show garden at Bloom this year. Tell us a bit more about it.
I am so excited about the Woodies show garden at Bloom! It will be called ‘Everyone has a Dream’ by Leonie Cornelius at Woodies and will be a lovely small garden based on the idea that everyone should be allowed to dream big and create a truly personalised and beautiful garden space. It will aim to use simple materials and elegant planting combinations to create something really special! I also love the fact that at the garden there will be a Hort squad at Bloom-there is so much interest in horticultural advice at Bloom so it will be lovely to work together for the weekend of the show.
You are launching a book in 2017. Can you tell us a little about it?
The title of the book is ‘Dream Garden’. It is based on the idea that everyone has a dream garden and I show them how they can go about planning and creating it using humble products that are available widely. The book can be used by novices and experienced gardeners alike. It guides you through developing your design and shows you how to plan, measure and complete your dream garden.
Any advice for someone starting out in garden design?
It really depends on what area you are most interested in. If you are keen on planting you may look at doing a horticulturist course. There are also lots of great design courses if you are more interested in the design side and you can do these by distance learning which makes them easy to fit into your schedule.