Family garden in Barnes

This project was commissioned as a family garden on a plot of just under an acre. The house was a luxury new-build with views from a tower onto a bird sanctuary and the Thames. The clients wanted to embrace the larger landscape beyond the garden and yet still allow their sports-mad young sons to be able to play rugby and football on expansive lawns without ‘destroying the plants’.

The plot was divided into rooms with expansive curves, allowing boys’ games to take place at the far end of the plot while being enclosed in an oval space by robust shrubs.

For the grown-ups, much was made of the large garden by creating journeys through a variety of planting styles; an autumnal walk of asters and amelanchier, a formal secret garden of box, agapanthus and scented white roses, plenty of entertaining space in the centre of the garden underneath a pergola and a terrace full of scent close to the house.

Much of the planting was designed to encourage wildlife, and the garden very quickly filled with birdsong and butterflies.

Water garden in Ealing

This was a fabulous project for a client who was a man of vision. He invited us to create a pool and a garden after the tall evergreen hedge he had planted at the end of his plot 10 years previously had matured.

His dream was to create a vast pool in the Roman style, with fountains and myriad fish to flash gold across the water. His parties were famous across London and this was to be the setting to end them all.

With the building work of planting beds, niches for urns, foundations for obelisks and a hardwood colonnade completed, in summer 1988 we began to dig the pool.

We consulted carefully with fish specialists and discovered that Koi Carp not only need highly oxygenated water but also require a depth of about one metre to breed successfully. So, the pool had mixed depths of 75 cms and one metre. The works were successful and two years later the first young koi were born. In the first summer after completion of the project Mallard duck raised a brood on the pool… the adjacent plantings provided a perfect nesting site.

This water garden was chosen to feature in The Sunday Times and on national television, when Mike Bayon was interviewed by the Gardening Correspondent Monty Don.

Old-fashioned garden in Richmond

Our clients bought a house and garden that was a time capsule of Edwardian days. The previous owner had lived there until she was 101, and her gardening legacy was pure Gertrude Jekyll.

The clients had four young children and, as well as needing room for lawn games, they wanted to restore the garden to a version of its former joy. We sent a questionnaire to the children ensuring that the whole family was included in assembling the brief.

A large rectilinear lawn was spread across the back of the house and the rest of the plot was divided into rooms with connecting paths. This sub-division of the garden ensured that, as the children grew, they would be interested in exploring the garden and finding its secret places.

The lady of the house joked that she wanted to make ‘an Old Lady’s Garden’ and by that she meant one full of old-fashioned roses, lavender, mop-head hydrangeas, philadelphus, irises, asters and red hot pokers. We were able to re-use some of the original stock, especially the polyantha rose ‘The Fairy’ whose bright red tiny hips were charming against lavender ‘Hidcote’ and Anaphalis margaritacea.

Low yew hedges were planted underneath stilt hedges of Quercus ilex and topiary was used to define a path leading away from a brick terrace outside the study. A long line of rambling roses, including Francoise Juranville and Mme Alfred Carriere, were planted on rope swags hung between oak posts. A herb garden, glasshouse, cold frame and veggie plot were also reintroduced. Our client now spends her days picking flowers in the Summer and filling her trug with parsnips at Christmas.

Exotic garden in Hampstead

The clients phoned up to say that they had just acquired two large marble tigers during their travels in Vietnam and could we help decide what to do with them. We reckoned that they would give the postman quite a jolt, and so we re-designed the front garden around them. We made a garden on different levels using granite setts and russet-coloured marble tiles. The tigers were partially hidden by a surround of bamboo. A giraffe, made of musical instruments, soon arrived and we set this deeper into the garden surrounded by Miscanthus zebrinus.

The next year we were commissioned to design the rear garden with a brief of “an oasis of calm… Oh, and we have just come back from Egypt… and… er… well, it’s up to you”. I knew the clients had a large collection of outdoor sculpture and we had discussed the fact that they didn’t like traditional fences; they wanted reminders of the vastness of Egyptian temples. We hit on the idea of the boundaries working as an enclosing wall sculpture using bold rhomboid and rectilinear shapes. The colours were inspired by hot lands and blue skies. Within this we made a lily pool that could be crossed to reach a table and chairs positioned to catch the evening sun.

Plants from exotic climes were used, including cannas, ginger lilies, Olive, Solanum lacinatum, lantana, Mimosa and sweet bay hedging. No climbers were used at all and the shadow shapes of perennials such as Echinops ritro made a graphic statement against the wall sculpture.