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Meet the garden designer who has won praise from Theresa May and Princess Eugenie

SHE is garden designer who has won admiration from the likes of David Cameron and Theresa May.

Juliet Sargeant is a Chelsea Flower Show gold-medal winning garden designer living and working in Sussex.

Earlier this month the Rottingdean resident featured in week-long BBC One show Operation People Power with Dave Myers which highlights the incredible volunteering projects from around the UK.

“The great thing about it is the variety of skills people bring to the show. A few of the projects are about creating outdoor spaces – I could bring to it my dual background in garden design and health as I am medically qualified.

“So I understand the effect of outdoor play areas on peoples health and wellbeing – as a few of projects featured in the programme are about creating outdoor spaces,” the 51-year-old says.

The London native turned her back on a career as a doctor to embark on a new career in garden designing.

“I’ve always gardened – from the age of seven my mum gave me a corner of the garden and said ‘this is your bit’ and I made a rockery.

“I always enjoyed that creative part of gardening, so when I decided to leave medicine I thought I’ll try something completely different – try garden design.”

Since going back to university to study for a BA in Garden Design in 1995, she went on to become an award-winning garden designer, lecturer and media personality.

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Her pinnacle she says was winning a gold medal and People’s Choice Award at The Chelsea Flower Show this year 2016 with her Modern Slavery Garden in the Fresh category.

The garden features several doors an oak representing captivity and three William Wilberforce sat beneath when he vowed to help end the slave trade.

She says: “It was all about raising awareness that modern slavery exists. Even today we think slavery has ended but it is still going on.

“It’s quite an edgy subject to cover at Chelsea, I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but people were really engaged and interested in the subject and we were supported by quite a few high profile people.”

High profile people including Theresa May and Phillip Hammond who came to visit the garden, David Cameron who tweeted about it and even two members of the Royal Family.

“Princess Eugenie was really supportive – she was actually behind the scenes supporting the project all the way through.

“She came and visited with her father the Duke of York to see the garden – we were all so pleased with the number of people interested in modern slavery,” she says.

But the garden wasn’t the only thing making headlines: Juliet was the first black woman to showcase a garden design at the Chelsea Flower Show.

“It was all quite a surprise because it was journalist that picked up on it.

“But what really surprised me was the number of black people who contacted me to say that it was great to see a person of colour doing this and were asking how they could get into garden design.

“Breaking preconceptions about various issues can make a real difference.”

Juliet runs her garden designing business from an office in Alfriston, and when she is not breaking barriers Juliet is wife to husband Chris, who she met whilst they were both at medical school in London, and daughter 18-year-old daughter Loretta.

She has now lived in Rottingdean for 20 years and spends her spare time wandering the deserted Tidemills Village on the beach near Newhaven and on her allotment.

She said: “Making gardens is similar to practicing medicine – both are about helping people to be happy and healthy – but now I do it by creating beautiful gardens.”

Article source: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14991966.Ex_doctor_breaks_new_ground_in_garden_design_and_wins_praise_host_of_stars/?ref=rss