DAVID KEEGAN Pro Landscaper speaks to David Keegan of David Keegan Garden Design to find out about his work in Manchester, local design trends, and his most exciting project to date David, how did your career begin? I used to be a freelance photographer. I did fashion and personality portraits of famous people for magazines such as Tatler and the Telegraph Magazine. I became tired of accommodating superegos and I started the organic process that resulted in where I am now.
“WHAT’S FANTASTIC IS THAT PEOPLE ARE BECOMING MORE CONSCIOUS OF THE HOUSE AS PART OF THE LANDSCAPE” 78
Pro Landscaper / April 2018
David Keegan.indd 78
How did you go from photographer to garden designer? I was living in a ﬂat in Hammersmith and built myself a roof garden, and from there people started asking me to do theirs. I relocated to the North with the intention of going into furniture restoration and built another garden, and again I got requests to do them for other people. Then I saw an advert in a magazine for a TV show wanting people who were interested in garden design, so I applied, and after two years without hearing anything, I got the call to say I was going on. Contestants were supposed to be amateur, and I’d been working in the industry for a couple of years, but they told me not to mention that and to still take part. Doing that show was probably one of the best things I did because, although I didn’t enjoy the process, it impressed a lot of people and I started getting some big projects.
Moving to the modern day, how is your work split now? Before the ﬁnancial crash in 2008, my work was split 50/50 between commercial and domestic projects. Since then, however, the only commercial work I’ve tended to do is community gardens. There wasn’t much work at that time and I got out of practice, and as a natural progression I have tended to focus more on the domestic market. What’s do you consider to be the best project you’ve ever worked on? In December, I worked on plans for what’s going to be a new residential centre for young adults with autism in north Manchester. It’s probably the most interesting and exciting project I’ve done, and it will be the ﬁrst of its type in the UK; it’s a completely diﬀerent approach to how we support people with mental health issues in the community. It represents some kind of hope, as it will only accommodate people who are originally from that catchment area, who are currently in care centres all over the country, away from their families. When I was commissioned, I was asked if I would be happy to collaborate with the people who were going to provide the care, as well as with the architect, and it was an incredible process – unlike any teamwork I’ve done before. They were incredible people; the architects practice is part social enterprise and uses the proﬁts from its commercial work to fund communitycentred projects like this one.