Sunny Garden

This one was a bit of a challenge, as the clients had recently had a lot of building work done and the garden was completely wrecked as you can see from the initial photograph!

They asked me to create a garden with lots of planting, but also a large lawn and two seating areas – a lot to squeeze into a small area, but a fully blank canvas to start from which is always exciting. Initially, I visited the site and spoke with the clients about what they wanted, before starting work on their design.

I always want to make the most of the sun; both for the planting and the client, so with this in mind I conducted a sun study. This showed the sunniest areas at different times of day, giving me the information required to optimise the location and planting of various elements of the garden. The seating areas were eventually placed where they would catch the sun earlier in the day, and evening dining under the pergola could be lit with festoon lighting.

The initial design included a lawn reached by stepping stones and surrounded by plants, with an octagonal pergola. We then increased the size of the lawn, and changed the shape of the pergola, making it more enclosed.

I researched which plants would suit the light and the soil type as well as what the clients liked, and supplied an illustrated plants list for the clients to approve, generated via the Shoot website ( They weren’t expected to choose ALL the plants suggested; but it meant that they could cherry pick from a selection that would suit the space regardless of what they chose.

The final planting plan was created in SketchUp, which enables me to detail exactly which plant goes where for landscaping and planting up. The planting that we settled on evokes the feel of an English country garden in miniature, with formal topiary and small standard trees blended with effusive and colourful flowers and flowering shrubs. The colour palette is calm purples, blues and mauves with yellow highlights. The textures range from very fine to medium, with a few large leaves (the hostas) for contrast. Height is achieved with the pleached trees and small standard bay lollipops.

It can be difficult to imagine the designs and the planting when faced with such a rough looking canvas, so to help visualise how the planting would look, I commissioned two elevation renders with accurate plants as you can see here. I can’t wait for this garden to be completed so I can share the ‘after’ shots with you! (Image credits –