A beautiful country house is as much about its surroundings as its bricks and mortar, something that the best garden designers in Britain all understand. We've completely revised and updated our list of the finest of them all.
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‘It makes a lot of sense to have the landscape designer in the team from the outset, to be involved with the architect in masterplanning the site, including garages, outbuildings, swimming pools, tennis courts and so on, ensuring they are in the best possible location and to maximise the opportunities for the garden to run out from the house,’ says garden designer Graham Lloyd-Brunt.
An initial feasibility meeting on site to talk about ideas will allow a designer to determine the potential and scope of a project, plus rough costs involved.
The next stage is the development of an initial creation of a masterplan before the agreed design and specification are prepared for contractor tendering and more formal costing.
A designer’s fee could be fixed or calculated as a percentage of the project cost – a rule of thumb percentage is about 15%–20% for the design and project management, but, of course, much depends on the scale and complexity of your project.
Specialists in larger country gardens across south-east England and the Channel Islands, West Sussex-based Debbie Roberts and Ian Smith are repeat winners of the Society of Garden Designers Garden Awards. They’re known for well-structured designs softened with a light touch and naturalistic planting.
01403 891084; www.acreswild.co.uk
Andy Sturgeon Design
Winner of numerous RHS Chelsea Flower Show Best in Show and Gold medals, including both in 2019, landscape and garden designer Andy Sturgeon favours bold contemporary design, natural materials and innovative planting. His practice works across the UK and internationally.
01273 672575; www.andysturgeon.com
Angela Collins Garden Design
Designer of classic gardens with full, romantic planting, Angela Collins works on major projects across Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. She is admired for creating gardens that are sensitive to their historic settings and for her deep horticultural knowledge.
07876 592440; www.angelacollins.co.uk
Arne Maynard Garden Design
Designer Tricia Guild recently described Arne Maynard as ‘one of the finest garden designers working today’. His romantic gardens nestle around historic houses, creating a timeless feel with structural designs, pleached trees and strong-shaped topiary, mixed with soft plantings of lavender and roses. Mr Maynard is a lecturer, the author of several books and an expert plantsman.
020–7689 8100; www.arnemaynard.com
Wiltshire-based landscape architect Balston Agius is run by experienced designers Michael Balston and Marie-Louise Agius, who work both nationally and internationally, offering a broad range of services and expertise. Their practice specialises in land works, creating completely new estates that incorporate wildflower meadows, lakes and walkways, as well as woodlands and copses.
01380 848181; www.balstonagius.co.uk
Cameron Landscapes & Gardens
Alasdair Cameron’s self-confessed and lifelong passion for plants is evident in the lush oases he creates, be they courtyards in the capital or abundantly planted gardens in the country. Known for working with the natural landscape to create relaxed spaces that can be enjoyed all year, his designs are atmospheric and imaginative..
Mr Cameron founded his practice nearly 25 years ago and now heads an experienced team to offer a fully integrated approach, including garden design, project installation and continuing maintenance. Projects include the terrace at private member’s club Annabel’s, London W1, which he has transformed into a verdant sanctuary in the heart of Mayfair, and the gardens at 180 House, WC2, a Soho House venture due to open shortly, as well as private gardens across the UK and around the world.
020–8969 3399; www.camerongardens.co.uk
Naturalistic and generous planting, combined with a strong sense of structure, are the hallmarks of a design by this full-service garden-design consultancy, headed by former art historian Charlotte Rowe. Landscape bones are clean lined and architectural in style, softened with planting, and each garden is carefully considered in its relation to the building it surrounds. Based in west London, the boutique studio takes on landscape and planting design, project administration and garden styling across the UK and internationally, with equal numbers of town and country gardens.
The studio is also known for its garden lighting design. Current projects include a family space with kitchen garden and woodland areas in North Yorkshire, a walled garden with a swimming pool in the Surrey Hills and a tiered garden in Hampshire built into the slope of the land, complete with grasses mixed with perennials.
020–7602 0660; www.charlotterowe.com
An influential designer, who works in the UK and internationally, Christopher Bradley-Hole describes his approach as ‘contemporary, with roots in strong classic principles’. His current projects include large country gardens on estates in Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Surrey, as well as phase two of the gardens at RHS Wisley in Surrey, which involves the new landscape in front of the Arts-and-Crafts laboratory. Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape is the firm responsible for the execution of his designs.
020–8939 1749; www.bhsla.co.uk
Dan Pearson Studio
Known for his naturalistic planting using perennial plants and grasses and incorporating native trees, Dan Pearson is a leading landscape designer, horticulturalist, writer and advocate of respect for the environment. He is garden adviser to the National Trust at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, and his book on his designs for the 600-acre Tokachi Millennium Forest in Japan was published last year.
020–7928 3800; www.danpearsonstudio.com
Harris Bugg Studio
Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg run an award-winning practice known for imaginative transformations of gardens at country estates, often in areas requiring careful conservation considerations. Current projects include the revitalisation of Clumber Park pleasure grounds in Nottinghamshire for the National Trust, the historic walled kitchen garden at RHS Bridgewater in Greater Manchester and the design of the M&G Garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
01392 927172; www.harrisbugg.com
I & J Bannerman
Landscape of Dreams is an apt title for Isabel and Julian Bannerman’s book, given their specialisation in imaginative, magical gardens with abundant herbaceous planting among dreamy re-created follies and gateways. They have designed gardens for The Prince of Wales at Highgrove, Gloucestershire, and the Castle of Mey, Caithness.
RHS judge and council member James Alexander-Sinclair is a garden writer, television presenter and popular lecturer. Based in Oxfordshire, he runs a small, personal, garden-design practice, working across the UK and abroad, tackling master planning from vegetable gardens and orchards to spinneys.
07515 336356; www.jamesalexandersinclair.com
Accomplished plantswoman Jinny Blom is known for her artistic approach to garden design, in formal or informal styles that are always appropriate for the site. A favourite designer of The Prince of Wales, she is a repeat Chelsea medallist and focuses on gardens for private residences across the UK, as well as Europe and the US.
020–3950 2899; www.jinnyblom.com
Jo Thompson Landscape & Garden Design
Expert plantswoman Jo Thompson runs a leading architectural garden design studio, known for creating private and public gardens that are sensitive to their location and history, as well as intelligently planted. She is a fellow of the Landscape Institute and repeat medal winner at the Chelsea Flower Show.
020–7127 8438; www.jothompson-garden-design.co.uk
Landscape architect Kim Wilkie is admired for sculpting the land, creating calm, green geometric patterns on a large scale, often in historic settings. More recently, he has also focused his work into considering how we live with the land, advising on the development of farming and new cities.
01489 891691; www.kimwilkie.com
This full-service company offers design, construction, planting and maintenance, covering both private and public projects, such as the first public park in Gibraltar. The firm has won multiple RHS medals for its work, describing its speciality as creating ‘beautifully balanced gardens with a delicate combination of strong architectural features and soft, naturalistic planting’.
01276 856145; www.landformconsultants.co.uk
Lloyd Brunt Outdoor Design
Specialising in family gardens in the Home Counties and occasionally in the capital, Graham Lloyd-Brunt is known for designs that successfully combine simple, classic lines with bold, abundant and seasonal planting. Full borders close to the house gradually give way to flower meadows as the garden softly merges into the countryside beyond. Many of his projects include swimming pools and greenhouses, created complete with places to sit and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.
020–7222 2777; www.lloydbrunt.com
Marcus Barnett Studio
The creative use of a restrained palette and of elements drawn from local materials and plants gives this studio a distinctive edge. Garden designs are often deceptively simple, yet rich in their sense of place — which is earning the award-winning studio, headed by principal Marcus Barnett, a growing client base across the UK and internationally.
020–7736 9761; www.marcusbarnett.com
Marian Boswall Landscape Architects
Leading landscape architect and plantswoman Marian Boswall is a fellow of the Landscape Institute and heads a small team of horticultural specialists and designers working across the UK and internationally from a studio in Kent. The practice offers a complete landscape-design service, from conception through planning and tender to the supervision of landscape construction and planting. Current projects include the restoration of the Philip Sassoon garden for the new Giraffe Hall hotel at Port Lympne in Kent, a contemporary landscape around the walled garden of 19th-century socialite and plantswoman Lady Dorothy Nevill, and a private sculpture garden and meditation retreat for a 20th-century art dealer.
Known for a strong understanding of how a garden relates to both the house and the land beyond and for planting that feels natural to the site, Mrs Boswall favours timeless and sustainable design, combined with a deep understanding of the natural world. She is a fervent believer in the healing power of plants and sits on the board of the Blackthorn Trust healing garden in Kent.
020–7305 7153; www.marianboswall.com
Mazzullo + Russell Landscape Design
Directors Emma Mazzullo and Libby Russell joined forces in 2014 to create their own practice, after working for a combined 35 years for the distinguished garden designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd. Their extensive experi-ence allows them to take on the largest sites and a wide variety of projects, yet they can turn their hands to a small courtyard garden and make it magical.
Working across the UK and internationally — from France to Greece and Russia — they are known for high-quality, technically competent and well-considered designs overlaid with a romantic and original planting style. Gardens are carefully tailored to the space they occupy and designed to look as if they have always been there. Both directors are experienced landscape designers: Mrs Russell is a passionate plantswoman, RHS judge and plant committee member who is currently co-chairing the RHS Nepeta Trial at Wisley and her co-director teaches at the Society of Garden Designers.
020–7931 9996; www.mazzullorusselllandscapedesign.com
Pip Morrison Landscape Designs
Admired for his sensitive, thoughtful approach to design and expertise in the development of historic gardens, Pip Morrison is currently working on the master planning of the gardens at Auckland Castle, Co Durham, including the 18th-century formal pleasure grounds.
07817 736360; email@example.com
Robert Myers Associates
Specialising in contemporary gardens in historic landscapes, this practice undertakes both public and private projects, such as listed Youngsbury House in Hertfordshire, which is set in a Capability Brown landscape. The winner of six Gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Robert Myers will return this year with a new show garden.
Sarah Eberle Landscape Design
Hampshire-based landscape architect and garden designer Sarah Eberle is probably RHS Chelsea’s most decorated designer, with some 17 Gold medals under her belt. This year, she will return with the Psalm 23 Garden, which promises more of the thought-provoking design for which she is so well known.
07825 448620; 01256 895754; www.instagram.com/saraheberlelandscape
Sarah Price Landscapes
Currently at work on a woodland garden for the Maggie’s Centre in Southampton and, together with Nigel Dunnett, a rooftop garden for the critical care centre at King’s College Hospital, SE5, Sarah Price’s lifelong love of wild environments is evident in her immersive, plant-driven designs. Based in Abergavenny, she is in demand for private and public gardens across the country, thanks to her artistic approach and playful use of materials.
020–7703 3973; www.sarahpricelandscapes.com
Writer and designer Tania Compton is known for her flair in creating flower-filled meadows and abundantly exuberant gardens. A former gardens editor of House & Garden, Lady Tania has a strong eye for the beauty of Nature, as illustrated by the garden at her Wiltshire home, Spilsbury Farm.
The Land Gardeners
Henrietta Courtauld and Bridget Elworthy are celebrated for their romantically joyful gardens with wild and ebullient planting, held within elegant structure. They particularly enjoy creating productive gardens, filled with fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs, whether restoring walled gardens or enlivening hedgerows and orchards.
Both are interested in the ability of soil to sequester carbon and to grow nutrient-dense food; they are about to launch their micro-bially active Climate Compost. They also run online courses and grow organic English cut flowers from Mrs Elworthy’s garden in Oxfordshire, the restoration of which is described in their book The Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers (Thames & Hudson, £39.95).
Currently restoring the walled gardens at Althorp in Northamptonshire, they are also restoring and planting a historic orchard in Oxfordshire and the cut-flower borders at Château de Courances to the south of Paris.
07711 017427; www.thelandgardeners.com
Known for creating long-term landscapes for private and public projects at home and abroad, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan is garden adviser to Historic Royal Palaces, a lecturer and an author. His practice is re-casting the gardens around the Orangery at Kensington Palace, W1, and is equally at home turning its hand to contemporary gardens, such as the rooftop garden complete with ponds at the RIBA award-winning 4, Pancras Square, N1.
020–7253 2100; www.tlg-landscape.co.uk
Planting schemes inspired by natural and semi-natural landscapes, combining modern design with prairie-style plants and grasses, have earnt Tom Stuart-Smith an international following. He is a multiple medal winner at RHS Chelsea and the co-master planner for the RHS Garden Bridgewater, Greater Manchester. His portfolio includes the Hepworth Wakefield Garden, West Yorkshire, a garden at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, and another for a castle on Loch Ness in Scotland.
020–7253 2100; www.tomstuartsmith.co.uk
With traditional gardens for large country estates her speciality, Xa Tollemache is an expert at transforming neglected landscapes. Meandering paths through clumps of lavender and roses, formal features such as obelisks and statues and dreamy ponds surrounded by lush planting are the hallmarks of Lady Tollemache’s style, redolent of the garden she designed at her ancestral home, Helmingham Hall, in Suffolk.
01473 890799; www.xa-tollemache.co.uk
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