Category Archives: expert design advice


Flood garden now complete

We have enjoyed very much working with our lovely clients on a garden for a flood plain. The existing space around the house was flat and uninteresting and needed some depth and maturity of planting to get around the feeling of a padi flied. The new build house needed some softening, and there was a need for some raised level parking to allow access to the house over a walkway when flooded as it floods up to 1m in depth. The brick structure around the treatment plant (see below) was also a complete eyesore that needed screening, as did the neighbour’s sheds.

From this….

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To this….


From this ….


To this…


From this…..


To this…


Check out our wonderful HUGE mulberries…


And the new “breeze House” on top of the treatment plant


Its a lovely garden- very proud of everyone and grateful to our clients for letting us create something so unusual.


More lovely plant pictures from Philip Simmonds

Philip has just sent a few more photos from his Chelsea garden:

Below is the wonderful Ligusticum lucidum – a feathery fennel like leaf shape, with Hosta ‘fire and ice’ behind and the lovely grass Luzula nivaea on the right

Below is a similar combination, this time with the delightful Verbascum ‘Merlin’ the dusky pink central plant with Hosta ‘fire and ice’ behind. The taller red stems of the Angelica Archangelica are visible in the background and the floaty white flower of Luzula nivaea again. The Hosta to the front right is Hosta Devon Green, and the slim floaty grass is Festuca amethystina.

Below, against the wonderful colour of Philips’ stunning piece, is Veronica gentianoides on the left, with Luzula nivaea on the right. You can also see a close up of the wonderful sawn stone which tones so beautifully with the ceramics.

Below you can see the tall shapes of the elegant Angelica archangelica, underplanted with Hosta Devon Green, Luzula and Iris sibirica

Inverewe garden visit

I visited earlier this week the fabulous gardens at Inverewe on the west coast of Scotland. This gem of a garden, now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, is a true delight. Originally planted in the 1880’s on a barren coastal stretch, it is now a lush and inspirational landscape. It holds the National Collection of Rhododendron barbatum ( see some images below) and features many magnificent plants that are typically not fully hardy in the UK even “down south”

The highlights for me are hard to separate between the most wonderful specimen turkey oak (Quercus cerris Argentovariegata)


…..and a whole host of amazing wetland and shady planting …




Sublime pond planting is really striking, and of course the Rhododendron barbatum specimens which were breathtaking!



The terraces adjacent to the sea are stunning, with large hedging for windbreaks higher up…


This all protecting the upper terraces from the Atlantic winds…



I am really jealous of the Echiums which I have barely managed to overwinter in a sheltered Buckinghamshire garden- yet these look fabulous here..



Many other treasures- iris in particular, and simply wonderful clumps of ferns and gunnera



Watch this space for some more photos…

RHS shows-lifting the veil, date announced

We have now agreed a date of 18th March for our planned event. Billed as a masterclass aimed at designers and landscapers wishing to learn more about RHS shows and/or to share their experiences, we are confident this will be a good forum for networking and learning in an attractive environment.


As well as a wealth of design and contractor expertise to share, our friends at Coblands nursery will be talking about how they can help and support designers in RHS shows, and local nursery Tendercare have offered a walk and talk at their lovely site nearby. We used both of these in our recent show action and are delighted they will be joining us.

Do please email ruth ( if you would like to come along. There will be a charge to cover lunch and speaker expenses.

Happy Christmas


Lovely garden to show off!

I am delighted to show some images (kindly taken for us on a better day than today by the lovely Judith) of a recent collaboration in Buckinghamshire. Our client asked us to design a warm and attractive setting for their home in Chalfont Heights that was undergoing some major renovations. Our friend Waseem Malik of GA Constructions has completed an incredible makeover of the house, and then moved into the garden to build the design that we created with our clients. With some amazing bespoke garden buildings, a delightful central brick “petal parterre” and lawns and paths to lead you into the garden this completes a thorough transformation, making great use of the surrounding woodland and some existing mature trees.








With a simple frontage and driveway to work with an upgraded garage we just needed some structure for the front. We found some lovely standard ilex trees and planted them last week.



Congratulations to all involved, not least our clients who have planted the garden themselves really beautifully- it is not only a stunning garden but has been a lovely journey and the results speak for themselves.

Classic country house

I was recently asked to revisit one of our old friends and clients in Hurley. The landscaping has now had a chance to settle and the new build house ( completed a year or so ago) is already beginning to settle into the fantastic countryside. The brief was for elegance and simplicity, to incorporate a large koi pond and provide appropriate access and screening to the house without closing off the views. We think this has been very successful.






Deliveries safely in

A long day but all 3 artics arrived, were offloaded safely and have gone again


This was the first one- the Corylus for Hampton Court- they are being stored at our client site in Wentworth.

The second lorry was the really big trees- 5 box head tilias (lime). They really are comically large and took enormous skill from the Ruskins team to get them moved.



The third truck was crammed with treasures..


Large carpinus columns, magnificent acers, magnolias, liquidambar, hamamelis and a gingko all were moved into the site ready to start planting tomorrow



Stylish contemporary courtyard

We are delighted to have just finished this contemporary courtyard. The space was previously a completely wasted “side return” by the kitchen, but is now an amazing dining/seating and entertaining space.

Cool Gardens at Grand Designs Live!…

We were delighted to be asked to join the “ask an expert” panel at Grand Designs Live this week at the ExCel centre in Londons Docklands.

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Being an expert at this highly prestigious show was a real pleasure, and we threw ourselves into it with gusto. The Grand Designs Live team took online bookings in advance for about half the time slots, and pretty much all of ours were full, so we were flat out as the rest of the slots filled up fast too!

Holly, Phil, Mark and I all loved meeting all of those who kindly showed us their gardens and plans- we were so impressed with how well prepared many people were, and the range of gardens and projects was as ever very exciting to see. If you were one of our visitors do please stay in touch and let us know how things go- the Grand Designs Live team have asked us all to show some images next time of those we helped at this show which we think will be a really nice feature.