Design Consultations

I went to a potentially very pretty garden this week (which the owner is quite prepared to admit is a bit of a mess at the moment – but then that’s why she asked me to visit!). While in an ideal world it would be great to have the budget to create an amazing garden with inventive and clever details and fabulous materials, there are lots of times when clients of mine just have a mess that they don’t know what to do with, and for people in this situation I offer a consultation service. It might be that it’s just a bit of planting advice that’s needed, or it might be that they need a basic ‘on the spot’ design to push them in the right direction.

This was the case with the garden I went to see in Shaftesbury yesterday. With high (but attractive) buildings on three sides and a garage (to go) which will reveal a beautiful old wall at the rear of the garden, it has great potential. Set against that is the fact that it’s all very bitty at the moment, with too many materials, no clear style, a clear view to the car (not really what you want to focus on) and a bit of a slope.

In a couple of hours we thrashed out the basis of a design. It keeps the parterre with its stable block surface, but removes the too-cottagey stones around the edges, replacing these with a clipped box edging which will disguise the fact that you can’t make a perfect curve with stable blocks. Once the garage is removed, this will allow for a square lawn, off which is a terrace that will catch the evening sun (the garden faces northwest so is pretty shady most of the time). Between the lawn and existing parterre there will be a long pergola covered in roses, and on the far side of this will be a shade garden with silver birch trees underplanted with hellebores, arums and anemones.


While it doesn’t have the finesse of a full design, a consulation like this generates some ideas as to how to use the space practically, what will work and what mistakes to avoid, and how to begin to create beauty from a bit of a mess.