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In 2006 I formed Glorious Gardens, gathering together skilled practitioners to offer not just design but implementation of these designs and maintenance packages where we could look after the gardens once we had created them.

Throughout my career I have designed gardens to inspire people with the heart aching beauty of nature, with shapes, colours, moods and proportions to pleasure the body and calm and delight the mind.

I am also an artist who works with colour and abstract shapes and I bring this sensitivity to the 4 dimensions of a garden.

I am very good at listening to clients and I’m able to draw out the essence of what a client wants for their outdoor space.

Garden design- what you can do in a small space

After removing 60 tonnes of soil and clay down 15 steep steps we put this Hot Tub to bed!

By using curved paths and varying the stone we used with a thinner Dutch brick we were able to make a dramatic difference to this back garden. The plants will come out soon and when you are in the Hot Tub the plants will form a subtle cocoon around your head.

For height we went for a Weeping Birch, Weeping Cherry, Malus Red Sentinel and Sorbus Pink Pagoda. Even in small gardens it is important to be bold with planting trees. If you choose the right one they will add weight and grace to the upper canopy and give the space more of a timeless feel.

I look forward to showing you this garden at the end of summer.

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Garden Design- Japanese style woodland in Hove

We balanced the bright white paths with large limestone rocks, and lush woodland planting like Blechnum spicant, Hellebores, Epimedium and some Armeria maritima.

The two green wrapped columns are Australian tree ferns which we are ready to disrobe as soon as the weather improves.

In the far back of the garden we have planted Sesleria and Dog daisies to soften the picture and provide a backdrop of movement when the breeze picks up.

Japanese acres are dotted about and will blaze with their spring and Autumn colour and give some height under the canopy of this magnificent Cedar tree.



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Garden Designer John Brooks

If you ever have a few hours to spare, Denmans gardens near Chichester are worth visiting. They are the personal gardens of John Brooks, one of the most influential designers of the 20th Century.

What John does so well is create wonderful forms from plant life that form a live tapestry. As you wander around the winding paths you discover a combination of trees and shrubs that have taken years to grow into the combinations that he must have had in his mind years before when he planted the garden.

The gardens are a homage to interesting leaf textures and shapes and the tonal quality of dense plant life and airy branch structure.


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Garden Design for Winter

When you look out your window how does your garden look this Winter?

It is full of colourful berries and brightly stemmed shrubs, the bark of selected winter trees, interesting structures like internal hedges and topiary plus colourful evergreens peppered amongst winter branches?

If not you might like to read on.

A Winter Garden can be a thing of great beauty. As the cold and the lack of sunlight have denuded the garden and the rich juice of Summer has retreated into roots and trunks and bulbs, the bare bones of a garden can give a deep sense of artistry and peace. We accept that things die, the twilights of winter remind us that all things come to an end, and yet life is powerful and patient.

A Good Structure

A garden no matter how small needs to have a well proportioned and interesting structure from which Spring and Summer can burst out of. As a designer I know that if the structure 

I have created looks good in Winter nothing much can go wrong with the infilling of plants later on. That’s why garden designers put most of their energy into making sure the layout works first before anything else.

A good structure can be created by many elements. Internal hedges can paradoxically make the garden feel bigger by separating areas and making smaller ‘rooms’ in which a person needs to wander and explore from space to space.

Good hedging that looks good in winter are Beech, Yew, Holly and Portuguese Laurel (please avoid Cherry Laurel. There is enough of it already in the world plus the bright green, plastic looking leaves can almost deny that Winter is here which I think is a shame.)

Topiary

Topiary doesn’t have to be just Box balls and squirrel shaped shrubs. You can ‘cloud’ prune all manner of hedges and shrubs into interesting pyramids, clouds, saucers, columns and blobs which can create a strong presence in Winter especially if you have a few of them well balanced in different areas.

Also you can choose plants that have a sculptural appearance. Imagine lots of the conifer Prunus mugo Carsten’s Wintergold placed throughout the beds.

Pots and Sculpture

Once the flower show is done, ornamental pots and sculpture come into their own in Winter and they are no longer having to compete with the effulgence of nature. If you place them in focal point locations they will lift your garden onto a different level. If at all possible, go Big with them. Even in a small garden they will get lost and look twee if too small and cheap looking.

Small evergreen plants

As well as the obvious Winter shrubs and trees that don’t loose their leaves think about combinations of a few plants dotted around together.

Some examples of perennials with striking Winter foliage are:

Cotton Lavender, Stacys bizantia, Rosmary, Bergen delavayi with its fat purple leaves, Hebes, Liriop miscarry and Tiarella Spring Symphony.

Seedheads

Seadheads are very popular today. They are good for wildlife and look great in Winter sunsets or in the morning covered in frost.

Some examples are:

Rudbekia laciniata, Sedums, Monada, Verbenba bonsariensis, Veronicastum virginicum and Phlomis plus the great slightly goofy flower heads of Hydrangeas.

Colourful deciduous plants.

Shrubs and trees with interesting colours and textures are:

Acer griseuk, Acer negundo ‘Winter Lightening’, Betula Grayswood Ghost, the twisted branches of Corylus contort, any of the Cornus especially Midwinter Fire, dwarf Willows like ‘Nana’ plus Rubus cockburnianus (this name sends giggles into any horticultural class as you can imagine)

Grasses

Half the value of having ornamental grasses in your garden is that during Winter they go a hay/ bronze colour and still move wonderfully in the wind. Grasses that really retain their shape are Calimagrostis Karl Foerster, Panicum Heavy Metal and and of the Miscanthus varieties.

Berries

Pyracantha, Catoneaster and Berberis all keep their berries way into Winter and are great cheap birdfeeds.

Fruit and Flowers

Some trees and shrubs have learnt to come on stage when for most the show is over.

Malus Red Sentinal keeps its bright red fruit on its branches almost the whole way through Winter. Mahonia Lionel Fortescue has lovely fragrant yellow, plus other flowering plants make their appearance. Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, Helleborous, some of the Clematis, Winter Jasmine, Winter Heather and of course Snowdrops.

Water

Having water in the garden can be a really wonderful luxury but in Winter it becomes essential. It reflects the ethereal sky and emphasises the stillness of Winter. So after a day Xmas shopping and having retreated yourself from steaming at the queues, the worries that you have forgotten something and the extra mince pie you know you shouldn’t have eaten, let your Winter garden help you pare down to what is most important and beautiful in life.

Things to do in January

Time to prune your roses

All the shoots from last year’s Wysteria growth can be pruned back to two beds from the flowering spur apart from any runners you want to direct into a framework.

Apple and pear trees need reducing depending on their age

You can begin to force Rhubarb now

Greenhouses and sheds can be cleaned and sorted out

Where to visit

I was struck recently by by visit to East Dean near Levant, West Sussex. It has some wonderful Winter Structure with flowing hedges, smart rows of Vistorian greenhouses, cloud pruned Yew trees plus classical pergolas and a pool. Also their are lots of trained fruit in different shapes and Winter is the perfect time to see how they have been pruned and how the structure of the branches has been created. Well worth a trip this month.

Below are some pictures Ii took there recently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Plant Combinations

As Autumn leaves us and Winter frosts starts to explode the cells in plant leaves and stems and wilt our Summer's efforts, I am reminded of these photos I took of Autumn plant combinations.

Creating a garden design for your garden needs to factor in not just particular plants but how they go with each other- the tones of green foliage, the colours, the height and the frothiness of plants, the season they comes into their own and how they look as they die back.

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