An architect, landscape architect, editor, businessman and patron of the arts, Geoffrey was a leading figure in the landscape profession

    Image from Friends of the Landscape Institute Archive and Library at Reading (FOLAR)

    Originally published by the Friends of the Landscape Archive at Reading (FOLAR) on Thursday 4 June 2020

    Helen Neve writes:

    When I received a phone call to say that Geoffrey Collens had died, my initial reaction was more shock than sadness. Geoffrey was one of those people who was always there for you and carried an aura of immortality.

    I knew Geoffrey through our mutual connection with Landscape Design – both the magazine of which he had been editor and the Landscape Design Trust which he helped set up and of which he was a Trustee. No matter what the editorial crisis, Geoffrey would provide. A meeting room? No problem. Editorial advice? Measured and appropriate. A new publishing venture? Ideas provided or realistic advice given. An over quiet moment before the meeting started? An amusing anecdote gleaned from his lengthy experience in landscape practice, his musical adventures, or family life.

    Geoffrey was no pushover, however. I gave him a lift to the station after a Journal meeting (as ever, he had another appointment that evening in Town which required punctuality) and was grilled on the route I had taken, the likelihood of catching the train, and the strange smell in my car (caused by a historic accident with a bottle of milk) for which I was apologising profusely. He caught the train with time to spare but was never convinced by the milk story, and I’m glad I never met Geoffrey on the opposing side of a public inquiry.

    Helping to prepare and research Geoffrey’s obituary brought back many memories, and illuminated many aspects of his illustrious professional life of which I could never have had first-hand experience. It was also a very cathartic process; all trace of shock or sadness has been replaced by the satisfaction of a better knowledge of an admirable life.


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