07739 507 370
My fascination and inspiration for gardens started as a teenager watching Ground Force, watching Alan Titchmarsh and his team turn people’s back gardens into beautiful functional areas. Since then i became interested in horticulture as a career and started to take photographs and assemble ideas from gardening magazines and the internet.
I decided to continue my love for outdoor space by getting a job as a Horticultural Assistant in a garden center. I was working in the plants section and something suddenly clicked. I started seeing plants differently. I noticed the difference between the colours, textures and scent of varieties. My knowledge of plants was expanding and I was finding my new passion. I started visiting gardens including Kew, Hyde Hall, Beth Chatto’s, Sheffield Park and Anglesey Abbey, where I took many photographs. I felt inspired by naturalistic styles and informal landscapes.
I decided to explore Garden Design and attended a Higher Certificate in Garden Design at Writtle College. My tutor taught me to emphasis gardening with sustainability. I was inspired by this and started to use it in my own gardening business.
Beth Chatto’s, Dry Garden
This picture was taken in June 2017. I have been going to Beth Chatto’s garden for seven years. I love the naturalistic style; how she has designed the space in an informal way with Island beds that can be walked around and seen from all angles, taller plants and trees in the middle, layering down to smaller shrubs and perennials with ground cover spilling out over the edges. It is the informal style that I find so important in garden design. I believe that we should work with nature; nature is rough, nature plants in odd numbers, nature is repetitive and random. You can see this beufully illustrated in the picture. These are all elements that Beth Chatto uses to create, not just a dry garden but many other areas of the garden that have different aspects and conditions; such as a woodland area, a lake surrounded by boggy planting and a scree garden. Another amazing element to the dry garden is that it has never been watered; all water has come from precipitation. The area is covered by gravel that has held the moisture in but the plants chosen are specifically suited to the drought conditions. This is Beth Chatto’s philosophy. ‘Right plant right place’. This is very important in today’s world when climate change and water shortage issues are prevalent.
For the last three years I have maintained and developed the garden of the French Ambassador’s residence in Kensington which is a formal garden designed in a balanced proportion to the architecture of the building.
These pictures show that you can combine styles and elements such as formal and naturalistic. You can see the large trees, ‘toporised’ shrubs and perpendicular hornbeam hedging breaking up the long borders into sections which create the bones and structure of the garden but with perennials softening the straight lines, adding colour and interest throughout the year. The large formal lawn area is used for functions and parties and the pathway allows people to walk around the perimeter admiring the borders. This is important, in such a prestigious place, to be able to impress official guests. This has been done for centuries in places such as Versailles to demonstrate power and influence.
Through developing my gardening business and working with different clients’ needs and styles, I have broadened my appreciation of various styles. For example, I have designed a wildlife garden, architectural planted borders, a contemporary courtyard, a churchyard and have maintained many different outdoor spaces. All of which has inspired me to a wide range of interest in plants and design styles.
Living in Essex and working in the garden industry, I know first-hand how much of a problem heavy clay soil can cause. From unwanted waterlogged/boggy areas to compacted unhealthy lawns, it can cause a real problem for clients and landscapers. But there are ways to improve these conditions by certain methods that have been used for centuries which make it possible to grow what you wish, whether it be crops or ornamental aesthetically pleasing gardens with a diverse range of plants.
Clay soil can get very wet as it holds a lot of moisture in its dense particles. Clay soil can also get really dry in hot weather, creating cracks in lawns and soil which will lead to plants wilting and dying in drought.
When realising you have to deal with clay soil after an inspection as a garden designer, you will need to decide what you will want to plant in that area and whether that is practical and functional for the client. Then you can decide either to work the soil to improve it or to work with the soil as it is by choosing plants and trees that would thrive in a heavier clay soil. The benefit of doing some work on the soil is that you would have a much wider variety of plants and trees that you could choose from, but depending on the budget that may not be an option.
One way to improve clay soil is to reduce the density of particles by breaking up the material with loose particles such as sand, horticultural grit or gravel, all of which would enable water to drain through more easily leaving the ground less wet.
You could also break up the clay with organic matter which has bacteria and living organisms that can break up particles which can add to the soils nutrients. Another way to tackle clay soil is use compost and soil improvers on the market. A combination of all three elements in the soil, sand (loose particles), silt (denser particles) and organic matter with nutrients would be the perfect mix. This is typically called a ‘loam’ mix and is suitable for a wide array of plants that can be used in the garden.
This year I would like to show pictures throughout the year of the garden at the French Residence. I hope you enjoy them.
These pictures were taken in September 2016. It shows the Sedums and at their best in the autumn.
This picture was taken in October 2016. It highlights the amount of leaves that come down in just one week. The lawn stripes came out well in this picture.
It was a long dreary winter but we had fantastic sunshine in spring. I continue to feed the lawns with an organic fertilizer which I have noticed brings a lot more birds to the garden.
Ceonothus Concha looked great in March.
Iris’s out in May..
This white Rhododendron and this fern looked beautiful together as well as these red roses and peonies in May
We have had beautiful colours in the borders this summer, here are a few of my favourite pictures…
For the second year in a row I have not sprayed any pesticides or fungicides on the fruit or roses. With regular feeding with organic fertiliser and regular watering, they stay healthy.
Essex’s independent garden design & maintenance company offering garden design and planting design services from initial consultancy, design and over-seeing the build.
Tel: 07739 507 370