Latest Blogs

One of my garden design mentor...
You have to look the hardest i...
Charleston House- Where the Bl...
Regent's Park has many wonderf...
To my mind there are five gold...
A garden can still look good i...
A good garden design needs goo...
The whole front garden was jus...
Sorry for the short blog but I...
Even a well designed garden ca...
This pond in East Sussex had s...
Just to cheer you up with a do...
We balanced the bright white p...
If you ever have a few hours t...
When you look out your window ...
As Autumn leaves us and Winter...
In the gardens of East Dean, W...
Believe it or not we only fini...
Highdown- Heritage Garden at o...
We completed this garden desig...
A while back this space appare...
Over the next two weeks I will...
One of my mentors, Amanda Patt...
Designing small gardens has it...
When I first arrived in this g...
In this garden we finished in ...
Normally when you design a pla...
Originally this garden had abo...
This was the perfect muddy mes...
A garden design for the front ...
I am not always a fan of sculp...
My Italian friend, Paola, sent...
Last week we looked at Beth Ch...
Even though it is increasingly...
Vietnam is home to more than 1...
I took these photos of Cow Par...
Being a garden designer means ...
Garden Design in the UK- using...
For the last 40 years the Dutc...
Here is a garden we did earlie...
With the smouldering greys, br...
The Prairie gardens has been g...
Anyone for chicken? A friend's...
This garden space was looking ...
Autumn is upon us. Here is a b...
    You may remember...
My client had an extremely slo...
This garden had traditional ro...
 Juliet Sargeant won a Go...
  This newly built pool ...
This garden, which won't c...
Two garden design aspects that...
Have you thought of a tropical...
I've been saving these images ...
Here is some colour to knock y...
Maybe you will never look at s...
If you could have any sculptur...
I took these photos in Terra B...
Silhouette art in the garden o...
Formal shapes in a garden coul...
Summer has pumped its juices i...
Front and Back of a house in H...
I love this combination for it...
These poppies on the hill abov...
I was in Italy this week for m...
I was in Barvaria recently vis...
A bee whose eyes may be too bi...
Arundel Castle Gardens are won...
Sometimes the delicate vulnera...
The photos below unfortunately...
This church and cemetery can b...
The colours of Spring are almo...
The Willow tree, Salix, has ov...
 Spring is filling up all...
Now is the time to cut down de...
Last year's growth provides th...
The world is waking up and the...
Get your garden ready for Summ...
We visited our friend's farm l...
Nature sculptors chaos and wea...
Below is the Tibetian Cherry (...
See if you can match the word ...

Nigel Phillips- Classical Garden Design

One of my garden design mentors is Nigel Phillips. Have a look at this lovely garden he designed a few years ago. He takes all the best ingredients of classical garden design and the few twists he adds come from his sense of place and the knowing what will delight the client.
Continue reading
5 Hits
0 Comments

Garden design in January- Yin and Yang






A garden can still look good in January and the leaf colour and texture of evergreens mixed with deciduous shrubs can have its own beauty. But I have been thinking that it is not just the aesthetics of January that is relevant in this month, but our whole attuned towards nature. 


This got me thinking about Yin and Yang.


Most simply, the theory of Yin and Yang describes a world being made up not of opposite and opposing forces, but an experience in life where events and things are actually connected, sometimes complimentary and more often interdependent. So Winter is not the opposite of Summer but they are two sides of the same coin that transform into each other and rely on each other. One is not bad and the other good, but that they are two experiences that we can bring ourselves into alignment with.

 

If Life and Death are lovers, January is their secret rendezvous.

 

Originally from Australia my first Winter in England was overwhelming. I saw everything dying around me and the light was shrinking each day. When I saw my first cherry blossom in the Spring I felt reborn! So, I realised, things die back in the Winter so that they will survive and be stronger for the next Summer.

 

The decay we see in our gardens are forming the compost and rich soil for next year’s plant needs and the beds becoming fertile for the dormant seeds of Nigella, Nasturtiums and Marigolds. The cold season brings about the deaths of some plants that have had their time and new plants will grow into the space left behind. Plants that have lost their leaves have drawn inside themselves for protection and to conserve water before any possible freezes. The vibrant sap that plants and trees have been building up all Summer has fully descended into their roots. (Indeed the only sap left in the trunk and branches of trees is higher in sugar content forming a kind of anti-freeze as the sugar syrup has a lower freezing point than water.)

 

We often want to tidy up our gardens in January but just like order and disorder were seen as interdependent in ancient China, one leading to the other and back again, so to we can see mess and cleanliness in that way. The chaos of leaves, windfalls and storm scattered twigs are vital homes to the bumblebee, woodlice and hibernating hedgehogs. It is not until Spring sounds its trumpets that we need to get rid of the old to help bring in the new.

 

One quality of Yin is stillness. We can enter our garden and be affected by the quietness of life. The world spins more slowly on its axis and so can we as we move about. All our Yang efforts over Summer, the endless stimulation of the internet and TV, can fall away and we can be awash with the silvers and blacks and deep wet browns of a garden no longer full of restless and reproductive energy. It can be a time of contemplation where we can concentrate on where we have got to in our lives and relationships, what we achieved last year and for a minute let go of future hopes and plans. It can be a time of loneliness and, if we can allow ourselves to feel this most difficult of emotions, from this place a deepening can come, giving us a clearer understanding of what we need. A fallow feeling that tells us what is most precious.

 

We can enjoy the skeleton of branches that reveal the growth history of the trees and the windy forces that bent them and the sunlight that seduced them in particular directions. The seed heads of perennials, hanging like small empty purses, robbed of their seeds by birds and squirrels and the frosts that enliven the patterns of leaves and greenhouse windows. most of nature had gone downward. Summer’s wonderful electric expansion is a dim memory, seen in a few frozen grapes on a vine.

 

We can prepare for Spring gently, pruning fruit trees, roses, grapes, figs and wisteria knowing, as we cut off Summer’s excited growth back to fat fruiting spurs, that these places will be exactly where the plant will squeeze it’s juices and form its fruits in the year ahead.

 

And then the very first daffodil, or a burst of yellow from the spidery flowers of Witchhazel or bright Aconites in the woodland part of our garden. Even in the Yin there is Yang. Pink Cyclamen grow proud amongst the dry old roots of a Yew tree.

 

Janus, the Roman God of Transitions and Doorways, often thought of as the origin of the word January, is a two headed deity, looking to the past and also to the future. The world is momentarily suspended, Yin and Yang is in balance, they become indivisible, our garden becomes the theatre for this ancient stillpoint.

 

What to do this January in your garden

 

The biggest jobs are the pruning of deciduous plants like Roses, Wysteria and fruit trees.

 

The best place to go to learn proper pruning methods is a professional gardener, the RHS Pruning Manuel or Youtube !

 

Example- If you type in “Pruning a small apple tree” you will get all sorts of well meaning gardeners showing you what they do. Choose to listen to an expert though there are different options. Try RHS first.  Also make sure the apple tree looks like your one as there are different types.

 

Also in January you can sow in your greenhouse all sorts of vegetables ready to be transplanted in Spring into your plot.

 

Plus you can start to force your Rhubarb by placing as big a pot as you can find over the heads.

 

Where to visit this January

 

 

If you want to walk off those extra Xmas calories you can take a trip up to Kew Gardens. They have such a huge range of trees even in the middle of winter there is so much to see. Plus you can hang out in the cafes or Tropical Greenhouse for a warm break. They also have after-dark tours. Or visit a local forest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading
129 Hits
0 Comments
Featured

Transformation- Before and After the Garden Design in Brighton

June is a productive month to revisit gardens that we have designed and built, especially when the work was done in Winter or early Spring. During that time plants arrivde and once planted the perennials could only be noticed by a few small sticks. It takes all my efforts to assure clients that there is more to come!

In this garden the overriding design theme was tranquility. We choose woodland plants to suit the large Cedar in the back garden. At the back the clients wanted a more open prairie feel so we used Sesleria autumnal and because the soil was heavy clay we planted them onto little mounds to prevent their roots standing in water.



The client did a lovely mosaic pattern on the concrete bed bath which can be seen at the end of the path.
Continue reading
805 Hits
0 Comments

Cloud Pruned Olive Trees and phosphorescent Tulips

We completely cleared this small Brighton courtyard, laid grey Indian sandstone and brought in three cloud pruned Olive trees. (It was a miracle we got them through the house.)

On the steps we used a bespoke ornamental tile and the Olives are underplanted with Allium Purple Sensations, Libertia peregrinas, Geranium White-ness, Verbena bonsariensis and Gaura. This underplanting will take over from the Alliums to provide lasting summer and Winter interest.


Continue reading
703 Hits
0 Comments

Great Dixter- more photos from an intriguing garden

In my last blog I gave some background to Great Dixter.

One striking element to the gardens is both the house and strong, dark greens of the Yew topiary. They provide a strong tonal background to the frothier temporal planting of perennials and annuals.

This garden is also well known for its use of rare plants and unusual combinations.

They beds are saturated in planting detail and even though the gardens are not big one can spend hours there immersed in each 'garden room'.


Continue reading
881 Hits
0 Comments