Patrick Watson, Landscape Architect
Patrick Watson has been described in many ways; artist, genius, talented, philosopher, educator, shy, difficult, uncompromising, sensitive, arrogant, original and adventurous. What he is, along with a most creative imagination is one of South Africa’s most stylish, gifted and sought after Landscape Designers.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, his work has no one distinctive stamp that indelibly marks a garden as his; rather he strives to create something unique for each client. He concentrates on listening to what people want and need. “In a private house the client’s wishes are everything. They have to live in it and they have to look after it. They will not look after it if they do not understand or like it. One has to tailor a design to someone’s personality if one wants any kind of success.”
Inextricably linked to that is the fact that Patrick believes context is vital to the success of any garden and often tries to steer his client towards creating a garden that has the right relationship with the buildings themselves and the wider context of the area in which it is placed.
Patrick’s career grew out of a childhood interest in nature. In fact, there was never any doubt in his mind that what he would ultimately be is a gardener. He started his apprenticeship by observation of the natural world at a very young age. Not only did he learn the names of plants, worldwide, especially the indigenous plants, but he also collected seeds, propagated and planted hundred of different species.
He began building a botanical “database” that is unsurpassed in his field. To date, Patrick has never had any formal training in either botany, zoology, ecology or design. What makes him extra special is his perception of ecological systems. From the first he was observing and learning plant types, eco-zones, rock types, the various soil, insects, birds and animals that go into making each ecological system unique from each other.
With flair and originality he combines local species into a natural looking ecology that will have interest throughout the year within an ecologically sound background. Despite his fanatical drive to recapture nature and make it sparkle. He is entirely pragmatic and known as a problem solver. He does not give clients unrealistic products.
He has a strong sense of history both social and gardening. He respects what has come before and in some cases to change pervious work or remove old vegetation. Rather he tries to educate his clients to their value and uniqueness.
On leaving school he worked briefly for a local Landscape Architect, and then went into his own business, where he has been ever since. He has worked with a number of great Landscape Architects notably South Africa’s Joan Pym.
Patrick’s design style is unique and somewhat unconventional. It is best described as organic. He comes up with the vision and design concept instantly and provided are in agreement, the elements and details are added as the project matures.
In 1991 he was awarded the “Honorary Landscape Architect and Member of the South African Institute of Landscape Architects” in appreciation for his contribution to many of South Africa’s finest gardens. This award has never been repeated since.
Patrick’s work is not only limited to gardens and gardening. Over the last 30 years he has been involved with a variety of organizations for the creation and protection of Parks, River, Trails, Natural Ridges, Rock Formations, Trees, and Iron Age Sites. He is a founder member of the Embryonic South African National Trust for Gardens and Landscapes.
His work covers an immense range of projects - from tiny domestic private gardens to vast industrial estates, hotel complexes, golf courses and even entire farms.
He has designed projects all over South Africa, Namibia, Botawana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland and Zaire as well as Malaysia, India, Mauritius, Seychelles, Saudi Arabia and Malta.
Following is brief description of some of the many gardens and projects that Patrick has designed.
Casinos and ResortsCaesars Palace Casino – Gauteng
Private Homes and FarmsHouse Baxter – Polo Fields
ProposalsLittle Switzerland Golf Course – Natal