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Meet the Team: Julia Watts, Senior Landscape Architect

Posted on 03 July 2017

Julia tells us about the diversity of her work, being a Fellow of the Landscape Institute and how important landscape is to people - as well as revealing her secret passion.

Julia Watts

I am the Senior Landscape Architect for Groundwork East and, with our team of Landscape Architects, design and manage improvement projects to a variety of sites, such as schools, housing estates and parks and open spaces. I have no typical day - I may be on site surveying trees, doing community consultation, designing a park or valuing works undertaken by a contractor.

I’ve been at this Trust for just over eight years, and I’ve seen a lot of change. The team has shrunk considerably, in tandem with the reduced funding available for our sector of projects. We have fantastic opportunities for projects with a wide range of clients, and I am hopeful that more funding will come into existence, particularly given the known value of green spaces.  

I am a Fellow of the Landscape Institute, which is a real accolade as there are only about 90 or so of us. It’s a recognition of my contribution to the Institute and the profession – my application stressed my sustainable project credentials which align well with the Groundwork ethos. I had to submit a portfolio of work, so it was interesting revisiting a number of key projects, especially those early on in my career, and reflecting and evaluating their success.

One of my professional passions is the education and development of Landscape Architects. In my spare time, I am mentoring and supervising Landscape Architects towards becoming Chartered, ensuring they have the highest standard of professional knowledge required to pass the exam. I am also privileged to be an examiner.

Landscape is vital to the health and wellbeing of everyone. Attractive, welcoming green spaces close to where people live offer opportunities for physical activity which also has mental health benefits. Trees - just one element in the landscape - combat climate change, clean the air, cool the streets, provide screening, increase property values, and provide a habitat for wildlife as well as many more benefits. I do hope that one day soon these benefits are accepted by those holding budgetary purse strings and substantial funding is made available for landscape projects.

My favourite project that I've worked on in my career is Spud Wood in Cheshire. This is a 'Woods on Your Doorstep' Millennium commemoration project supported by Woodland Trust, which I visit periodically. It was planted as whips (small, unbranched tree seedlings) and is now a proper woodland enjoyed by people of all ages. Last time I went, my niece was sure that the tunnels into the undergrowth were those of dinosaurs!

Something you didn't know about me... Well, many colleagues will know about my love of big dogs, owning an organic farm in Spain, and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, so my answer is the love of fast Italian sports cars. I once owned a gorgeous Alfa Romero 3l GTV but it guzzled gas and depreciated like a stone!

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