Surrey Garden Design Inspiration

Other counties might be extolled as the garden of England but the county of Surrey where we have our office is rightfully the home of some of the best gardens in the British Isles. A brief glance at many a best gardens list and Surrey gardens will often appear.

The best known are the large gardens opened by organisation such as the Royal Horticultural Society and National Trust. The former’s RHS Garden Wisley is rightfully one of the most visited in the country. It can at first glance seem a mix of botanical garden with ‘features’ thrown in but after many visits you understand that this garden stands apart as both scientific collection and centre as well as giving inspiration season by season. If you have limited space in your own garden this is a great place to see how borders can be designed to give year round interest. Or if you’re interested in a specific species then you’ll likely get something from a particular area. A top tip, check out the orchards in the spring when they blossom, its an oasis from the crowds that hover down in the main body of the garden.

The National Trust is well represented in Surrey as well. Clandon Park, a Palladian mansion is set in 7 acres of garden, Claremont however os probably more widely known. Claremont is a beautiful garden surrounding a small lake and featuring an unusual grass amphitheatre. The garden’s creation and development has involved great names in garden history, including Sir John Vanbrugh, Charles Bridgeman, William Kent and ‘Capability’ Brown. In 1726 it was described as ‘the noblest of any in Europe’ and the garden today is of national importance. For something more subdued Runnymede is the riverside site of the sealing of the Magna Carta, historically significant with one of the few easily accessible designs of Jellicoe.

These gardens are significant and you can sometimes get inspiration from them, especially for planting but if you want some ideas for smaller gardens than a year of visiting the Surrey gardens open under the National Gardens Scheme is well worth a try. They won’t always be to your liking but some will strike a chord. Small gardens such as Stuart Cottage in East Clandon, Heathside in Cobham, Walton Poor House in Ranmore and Chinthurst Lodge near Guildford are all interesting for the plantaholic in you. Vann in Hambledon and Cleeves near Haslemere are Surrey gardens worth a look for their design ideas for older buildings. And there are other gardens such as Timber Hill near Chobham, a garden that glories in fine trees as well as great planted borders.

And of course these Surrey gardens are all owned by enthusiastic gardeners so it’s always good to go back and see what has happened over the years. A garden such as that at The Round house in Loxhill is constantly evolving often, in this case because of an owner gradually creating a new garden from once neglected market gardens. So the National Gardens Scheme gardens in Surrey are well worth an exploration but be prepared to be both delighted and exasperated. They are private gardens, created by their keen owners, not you, so don’t be surprised if occasionally you see the plants you’re not so keen on. But from experience these gardens will also turn you on to new plants and new ideas that you can twist for your own uses!

Of course we don’t all want the maintenance that is so often involved with these gardens that open for the public. Sometimes it’s good to just see what other people are creating and revel in the seasonal colour whilst going back to our own simpler gardens where we can manage the changes in our gardens. If that’s the case don’t forget about the many resources in the county. Of course many of the gardens mentioned above will sell you some great plants and in the case of some you’ll find something unusual to impress your friends. The other thing you will find in abundance are garden designers for Surrey supports a profession second to none drawn by the great climate, an eager audience and a network of great nursery and landscape suppliers. Looking out of the window of my office it’s almost impossible not to see a local landscape van pass by every hour!

An Introduction To The Art Of Garden Design

This article is the first in a series that will explain the many facets of garden design and provide you with the knowledge required to plan a functional and aesthetically pleasing garden. In these articles you will find the necessary information required to undertake your own garden project from conception through to completion.

Every garden benefits from good garden design. Whatever your expectations are, planning and design are essential. One of the first questions I ask a client (as a design consultant) is “what do you want from your garden?” The planning will focus on these needs and create a personalized garden that can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come.

To provide a definitive guide on garden design I would need to be writing a 500-page book, so we will only look at the absolute basics in this article. One thing I have learnt over the past twenty plus years as a garden designer is that few of us are totally content with our gardens. Despite the immense pleasure we derive from them, there is always something that could be better.

Many long for a larger garden, a few for something smaller and more manageable, but the vast majority will make the best of their existing plots. Improving our garden spaces, coaxing the maximum impact from them is an enjoyable challenge that most avid green thumbs would rise to. The trick of course is knowing how!

Gardening is essentially about growing plants, but the setting in which we place them is probably the single most important element that makes a garden appealing or otherwise. Personal tastes in garden styles vary as much as in other aspects of living, and what appeals to one person may not appeal to another. The true test of good garden design is whether the result appeals to you. As a garden designer I have always seen my role as a facilitator, aiming to assist my clients to create a garden that reflects their taste and personality.

A good garden designer will open a magic box of inspiration and imagination. We show you what other enthusiastic gardeners have done, and how others have made the most of potentially insurmountable plot issues.

Your own level of interest is the key factor to consider when making a decision to have your garden designed and constructed by professionals or taking on the project yourself. It will cost you a great deal of money and the chances are that it won’t give you as much satisfaction as having created a garden through your own efforts.

Engaging a design consultant to explain the basic techniques and perhaps provide some inspirational ideas may be all you need to get the ball rolling. In the end only you can decide what is right for your garden. Tastes in gardens vary as much as in interior design and preferences for art or music. The true acid test of whether your new garden design has worked is only gauged by the pleasure that it gives you.

Make use of a professional designer by allowing them to suggest ideas and explain the techniques they use. Have faith in your own ability to soak up their inspiration and experiment on paper. You will soon develop skills that will enable you to design your garden with confidence.

The best gardens are carefully planned. The most important elements include:

  • Creating your wish-list
  • Surveying and measuring
  • Drawing your plans
  • Creating patterns
  • Choosing a formal or informal layout
  • Understanding garden styles and themes
  • Using shapes – both geometric and unusual
  • Overcoming gradients
  • Front versus back gardens
  • Creating Illusions
  • Preparing a planting schedule
  • Maintenance – high or low

Understanding these facets of landscape design will enable you to create a 3-dimensional image in your mind of the desired end result.

In future articles I will look at some of these specific elements of sound garden design in more detail, and provide you with the information required to tackle a design project yourself. A little knowledge goes a long way and I have no doubt that you will surprise yourself by discovering exactly what you can achieve.

As always… Happy gardening!

Garden Design – A Journey Down the Ages

Gardens add beauty and charm to our lifestyle. The tranquil peace and serenity works like a balm over the stress and rush that make up the modern world. Garden designs are on the priority list for both homemakers and home builders more than ever before.

Garden designs have become more unique along with being more utilitarian. The gardens were initially a green plot of the household where the family used to grow edible products. The entire concept was either for commercial or entertainment. The palatial gardens had pompous designs with grand structures and accessories.

The ancient gardens of Babylon; around 600 B.C could be coined among the first famous examples of garden designs which possibly even applied the Archimedes screw for proper drainage. Garden design includes the use of fountains, statues of exotic animals and rare flora.

Influenced by the styles of various periods, the English gardens have had the most dynamic styles and evolution over the ages. After Charles II’s return from exile in France in 1660, the High Baroque style of garden design crept in. It involved planting ranks of trees in straight lines on the avenues. It had a tendency to be enfolded by walls.

This form of garden design was best adopted in Melbourne Hall Gardens, England. It was designed by London and Wise. The typical old Augustan garden design was given a concrete shape by William Kent, a professional designer. Water, wood, glass and the archetypal statues were used for deriving the perfection. The West Wycombe Park, Castle Howard, Chiswick House as well as Riveleaux Terrace and Temples are a few examples where the Roman influenced Augustan style is evident.

The gardens were an integral part of the Mughal architecture. These gardens had luxurious fountains, water cascades, stunning structures and arrangements for relaxing. The Mughal gardens also had an extensive collection of plants and flowers. Moreover, the seasonal variations were complemented the garden design.

During the 18th century, the unbendable, frozen style of earlier garden design gave way to the pleasant designs. These were result of the careful selection of garden materials. The designers preferred using rocks, tarnished timber and earthy blocks ruled the gardens, along with appealing fittings.

The gardens, however, are planned counterparts of their natural entity. There has been a widely popular phase of garden designing which included forest-like gardens by Stephen Switzer. It had massive estates full of trees, caves, lakes and hills to give it a semblance of a stylized forest. The entire concept centered on more of serenity and economy by using the genuine works of nature. The concept’s success lay in the practical idea of having a comfortable garden with the pattern of the ‘cut-through the avenue’ concept.

The Post Modern style of garden design had designers experimenting with primary geometric patterns. Today almost every next garden is technically planned. The expertise of garden designers is recognized and in demand. Before executing the design, the garden designer draws a blue-print of the future garden with the natural and stylized elements available. Garden design is an intrinsic part of the present trend of setting up well-decorated gardens. Garden designers set-up the initial garden design plan, based on the natural flavor of the land, purpose, location as well as budget.