The Inner Garden


Click to enlarge.


Click to enlarge.

This inner garden design uses pathways between glades surrounded by planting, to maximise privacy and emphasise the element of discovery. The garden is wildlife friendly, and full of hidden delights! This garden encourages the visitor to walk around and pause here and there, with hidden views that open up as the visitor moves around the space, and different places to sit and relax.

The use of glades ensures that there’s plenty of open space within the garden, but each has a different character—one is open and sunny, another is a covered retreat for rainy days, and the third is a hidden place for quiet, or for observing the wildlife in the many welcoming habitats.

The planting uses perennials and shrubs to minimise upkeep, with bursts of seasonal colour to maintain interest throughout the year. All plants are encouraged to self-seed and grow where they are happy, creating a lush, healthy and colourful garden that has something of interest all year.


Click to enlarge.


Statement trees – small but packing an impact – provide focal points in the woodland garden.

These provide dappled shade in summer, cool down the garden, help to retain moisture, and create a varied habitat for wildlife, with differing flowering periods, and a range of seeds, nuts, and fruit.

A rich mix of understory plants and ground cover are allowed to self-seed and grow where they are happiest. Once established, little maintenance is needed.


The two main structures in the garden are the covered pergola and the treehouse. The structures are varied to suit different needs, and to allow for different activities.
The pergola is roofed to provide rainy-day shelter. It could have built-in seating and tables for dining or reading, or open, to be more flexible.

The Sycamore in the corner of the Inner Garden would make a great base for a treehouse. The design ensures that the construction does not have to damage the tree. The platform need not be very tall to give views over both the Inner and the Outer gardens.

Willow is a sustainable material, and makes beautiful and flexible structures. The design incorporates both archways to give a sense of occasion as the visitor moves from one area to another, and also a viewpoint into the Outer garden.

Left over logs and stumps can be creatively used in the garden to provide seating areas, or the inspiration for a unique stump carving.

Pathways edged with metal – this is an economic and environmentally friendly material. It will give essential structure in an otherwise unstructured garden.

They can be surfaced with either woodchip or crushed gravel. Once established, the paths will require little maintenance other than occasional re-surfacing.


This shady and quiet area is the perfect place for ferns and hostas, wood anemones and aconites to flourish. A hammock stung underneath the tree house on a sunny day would make a perfect shady retreat.


This border showcases a sunny swathe of grasses, teamed with focal-point shrubs, which will retain their structure through the year. Grasses move and sway in the breeze, and this provides a rhythmic, calming and contemplative sight and sound.

This border is designed to be enjoyed in the summer months. Therefore, it will be richly planted with colourful flowering perennials.
These will provide a changing carpet of butterfly and bee-friendly flowers, and will leave their stalks and seedheads through the autumn for birds to feed on. The dried stalks and seed heads also look fantastic in the winter frosts, so there is no need to tidy up in autumn.


The central unifying feature of this area is the wild flower meadow – an echo of the planned larger wildflower meadow in the Outer Garden. This area is dotted with wildlife habitats both obvious and hidden.

Usually unwanted weeds in formal gardens, nettles, teasels and docks are valuable wildlife plants, and suit a slightly wilder corner.

Stepping stones make a ‘secret’ path through the wildlife area.

Other habitats that can easily be slotted into corners include bat and owl boxes, bird houses, and a wood-pile in a dry corner. The key is variety.