Where to Look for Garden Inspiration

Inspiration

Gardens

Without a doubt, one of our favourite ways of keeping up with what other gardeners and designers are doing is to go and visit them. Here are some of the many gardens to go and see. Try and be open minded as, even if you don’t necessarily see yourself pursuing the same style of a specific garden, there may be small details you can include. Remember - the design is in the detail.

The Old Vicarage

The Old Vicarage at East Ruston in Norfolk is an absolute treasure trove of inspiration and we highly recommend a visit. The garden is divided into multiple smaller areas. On my first visit, I rarely stood still as there was a real sense that the garden kept calling me to discover more. Through arches, around corners, under pergolas and ivy clad tunnels - catching glimpses back to the house or out towards the church. This garden is about as quirky and flamboyant as any could be, and I defy you to name a plant which has not been included in this wonderful place.

Great Dixter

Great Dixter in Northiam, East Sussex, is a classic traditional garden originally created by Christopher Lloyd. He prided himself on being a true gardener although he clearly had an eye for design.

One of his more well known philosophies can be summarised from a quote in his book ‘Foliage Plants':

It is an indisputable fact that appreciation of foliage comes at a later stage in our education, if it comes at all.

Christopher Lloyd

This is something we wholeheartedly agree with. Flowers are fleeting so it’s important not to dwell too much on a small moment in time, but consider how a combination of plants will work together visually over the year.

The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

For a lesser focus on the garden and food for thought regarding garden art and sculptures, we absolutely love the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden in Dorking. It was very quiet when we visited which created a sense of otherworldliness. It was hard to believe we were in the middle of Surrey!

Admittedly, I was somewhat astounded by the mass of Giant Hogweed in the garden. Under the dappled trees, its architecture can be truly astounding, but this is not a recommendation for it as Giant Hogweed is highly invasive. However, the overwhelming presence of green makes this a restful and restorative visit.

Marks Hall Arboretum

Marks Hall Arboretum is another wonderful garden. They have a central area which includes a walled garden, a winter walk, lakes, a flower garden, and much more - and this is surrounded by a quiet woodland. Biannually they also run a Sculpture Exhibition. The Arboretum is home to 3 National Champions (the largest in Britain for either height, girth or both) and 110 Essex Champions! And there really is a sense of majesty as you roam around the gardens, but thoughtfulness also in the way each space has been laid out. The last time I visited, it was a hot summer day and I laid on the grass for an hour feeling totally at peace despite the presence of other people around.

The Place for Plants

And last, but by no means least, is The Place for Plants in East Bergholt, Suffolk. This has a special place in my heart as I worked here in the early days. The garden is run by the same couple who started the plant centre and they have planted many trees in their last 20 years of ownership. They have a special connection with Rhododendrons, Camellias and Magnolias so spring is a perfect time for a visit. However, they also hold the National Collection for Deciduous Euonymus which makes autumn a beautiful scene here too. There are 20 acres of arboretum and it is rare to see the garden busy; a true hidden gem.

Flower Shows

Flower Shows are a much better way of seeing multiple styles and influences in one day as well as getting a flavour of the current trends. Chelsea of course is the mainstay, but it can be easy to be overwhelmed here. Don’t forget that these designers are the best in the business and have generous sponsors to support the production of the gardens. Main Avenue Gardens typically cost upward of £250,000 so it will be little wonder if you feel you have no idea what to take away from the full design. Details to look out for include the use of colour tones, planting form combinations, what hard landscaping has been used, and how many different varieties of this you see. How is the garden supposed to be used? How has height been introduced? Where is the seating? Where does your eye naturally draw to? The list goes on. The RHS usually post details of the plants on their website, and keep your eyes on the BBC coverage as they interview designers so you can learn their rationale.

Pinterest

An easy solution to compiling mood boards for your garden is online, and Pinterest is an inspiring resource. Again, focus on the details. If you want a built-in kitchen in your garden, start a mood board just for the cooking area. If you only want purple and white plants, do another mood board for these. Only once you have several boards for each different area should you go back and start to consider the practicalities. Look at each image and ask yourself if you prefer this more or less than the last; this is a great way to whittle down to a short list. If you’re not sure where to get started then have a look at some of our boards.

Nurseries

Visiting plant nurseries will help ground your expectations and keep things practical. It also gives you a chance to see the plants perhaps out of flower, i.e. not in their prime. Availability can be a sticking point, so if your local nurseries don't have a plant you're looking for, then ask them why. Try and visit mid-week during term time as it's much more likely that you'll be able to get some help from the nursery when they're quiet.

Contact us to get started
Get in Touch

Our services

Full Service Garden Design and fulfilment

For an end to end service, our garden design and project oversight options deliver a clear step by step plan and then co-ordination of the garden build.

Planting Plans

Our planting plans can be selected as a stand alone design service. We still put you at the centre of the design but work within the predefined borders to refresh the garden.

Planning Application

We are experienced in liaising with local authorities and delivering the details and specifications required. This service can be used either in conjunction with our design services or as a stand alone feature as required.

Commercial Garden Design

We know that time and value are key when it comes to commercial projects. That's why we focus on short lead times and value add when working with developers to increase saleability and kerb appeal.
VIEW OUR FULL RANGE OF SERVICES
The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

Inspiration
Where to Look for Garden Inspiration

Without a doubt, one of our favourite ways of keeping up with what other gardeners and designers are doing is to go and visit them. Here are some of the many gardens to go and see.

Read More
Designing a Small Garden

Small gardens can be wonderful spaces but afford little room for error. We look at aspects of the design process, covering layout, features, planting, screening and the practicalities.

Read More
Why use a Garden Designer

Garden Design is the process of planning the garden layout and structure as well as considering the hard and soft landscaping details. In this blog, we look at the why a garden designer should be an asset as well as considering the costs involved with employing a designer.

Read More