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10 Inspirational Garden designs


By Bryony

Blog Home 

Like architecture, garden design and landscaping are often over looked as art forms. However they can evoke emotion like music, have aspects imitated like fashion and sometimes transcend generations like fine art. Inspiration for designing your own garden can come in many forms and can often be overwhelming but here are 10 gardens where elements can be replicated in any garden.


The Laskett Gardens, Herefordshire


Discreetly hidden in beautiful Herefordshire lies The Laskett Gardens. A love child of Sir Roy Strong and his late wife Julia Trevelyan Omen CBE, these gardens reflect both their expressive talent for the arts, for which they were both stalwarts in the post war Cultural Revolution. Four acres of gardens in the renaissance style but each area links to the husband and wife team. As horticulturally autobiographical as you can get, the gardens are punctuated by moments in their lives, for example The V&A Temple to mark Sir Roy’s tenure as director of the museum. Or Julia’s Christmas Orchard that she created in 1974. Showing that garden design should be personal and just because there are private elements doesn’t mean other people would not appreciate it. We fill the inside of our homes with personal artefacts and things with sentimental meanings so why not the garden? Sir Roy Strong bequeathed The Laskett Gardens to Perennial – The Gardener’s Royal Benevolent Society in 2015 to allow others to enjoy this personal gallery of a garden.


West Green House Gardens, Hampshire


Renowned Australian garden designer, Marylyn Abbott bought West Green House in 1993 and restored both house and gardens to stunning effect. As former director of the Sydney Opera House Marylyn designed a garden specifically to enjoy Opera performances, perfectly balanced to enjoy the sound amongst nature. Along with a breath taking Nymphaeum fountain atop a wide water staircase all framed by a Moon gate. Truly the garden of dreams! The walled gardens are perhaps the real revelation and something which can be translated to many gardens on a smaller scale. Edible crops are grown among ornamental flowering plants, squash are left to climb up through the walls and trees. Beans are grown over arches to give not only sustenance but also interest while crops like chard and brassicas are used in borders in formal styles like bedding plants. This could inspire you to maybe grow something in the border, chives have beautiful little pompom like purple flowers so could be the perfect place to start. It is definitely an enlightening visit.


Cambo Gardens, Fife


This garden makes the list for more than one reason, first reason being that in Fife the last landscape you would expect to find would be an American Prairie however non the less it is wonderfully successful. Full of naturalistic planting of Miscanthus, Eupatorium and Fennel give a hazy soft appearance evoking more of a “Little house on the Prairie” look and not seven miles from St Andrews! Although the main reason Cambo Gardens often makes the lists of the UK’s best gardens is for its winter interest. In the grounds woodlands they hold the national collection of snowdrops having been painstakingly lifted and split by the then lady of the house in the 1920-1940s. Who does not love a snowdrop?! This is a garden where any time of year is the best time to visit inspiring us not to neglect the quieter seasons.


Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury


It might well be easier to tell you what Waddesdon Manor doesn’t have as there is so much to inspire gardeners here. Carpet bedding where low growing annuals appear from the lawns like Persian rugs have in the past been designed by icons such as Oscar De La Renta and John Hubbard. This carpet bedding theme is carried through the Perterre on sculptures made from flora and fauna. Their tropical mound also allows the house plants outside for the summer to mix with the hot coloured summer flowers. Spider plants and snake plants will cope perfectly fine out in the garden in the summer months if you want to recreate a little bit of Rothschild luxury for your own garden.


Chelsea Physic Garden, London


We already know that gardening is good for you, both in body and mind so what better garden to explore for inspiration than the Chelsea Physic Garden? Nearly 350 years old and right by the river Thames was originally created by the apothecaries to grow medicinal plants. Now it houses over 4000 different species across their gardens and glass houses and every single one of them medicinal, edible or useful. Educational and beautiful in equal measure and an oasis of calm in the capital city.


Scampston Walled Garden, Malton, North Yorkshire


Dutch landscape legend Piet Oudolf designed Scampston with the idea of creating ‘garden rooms’ and although Oudolf tends to favour perennial meadow styles he uses formal hedge style planting to naturally zone off and create the feeling of rooms within the garden. Each plant meticulously chosen for their structure and shape while making it look natural and effortless. This in turn attracts not only human visitors to the gardens but a wealth of insects and wildlife to balance ecology. The idea of this garden is cumulate on the mount where the whole design scheme and the borrowed landscape beyond can be appreciated fully. This inspiration could be recreated in domestic gardens, try playing with height and scale in the garden. Usually terraced gardens can be a pain but placing seating in a few areas of the garden on different levels will give you a different perspective of the garden. If your garden is flat, try growing up a wall or fence to feel enveloped by your garden or grow plants in containers on sturdy stands to play with height to change the scale.


Waltham Place, Berkshire


Known as one for the best kept secrets in Berkshire Waltham Place is inspirational in its design through is vision for sustainability. Being totally organic since the mid-1980s and biodynamic since 2016 the gardens were redesigned in 2000 by Strilli Oppenheim and Henk Gerritsen. A major factor of this new vision is to allow nature to work with the gardeners by choose some carefully controlled weeds to complement the scheme. The idea is for it to feel like a garden while having the properties of a nature area. Sometimes described as ‘cultivated wilderness’ plants are grown to outcompete weeds with little intervention, things are left to seed and so the garden focuses on the life cycle and the death of the plants is as remarkable as the growth. The garden is left to do its own thing with the hope that the gardens are a place of inspiration to explore.


Beth Chatto Gardens, Colchester


The Queen of ‘Right plant, right place’ Beth Chatto’s gardens was once not much more than wasteland but she has proved that there is never an excuse to not be able to turn anything into a garden. As an experiment she turned a car park into a gravelled garden where the right plants thrive despite never being watered, it is nothing but a triumph. Each of her gardens works with nature to create something inspiring and stunning. A garden for almost every difficult situation each area is full of inspiration. If you have a difficult area in your garden then a visit here is essential as there is always a spark of creativity to take away from Beth Chatto’s.


Swiss Gardens, Bedfordshire


Like something from a fairy tale the Swiss Gardens at Shuttleworth are like walking through the woods of Hansel and Gretel. Throughout the gardens there are a series of 13 listed sculptures and follies to discover. It is peaceful and serene with something new to see after each corner. It evokes an almost bizarre Alice in Wonderland feel, especially with the ‘Swiss cottage’ as the central focal point of the gardens design. This garden makes the list of inspirational garden designs because it turns the idea of conventional, serious garden design on its head and makes it personal and subjective with a sense of humour. There are rules within gardens and design… but we do not always have to follow them.


Stowe Gardens, Buckinghamshire


There cannot be a list of inspirational garden design without including the Godfather of landscaping Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and in 1741 he took over the helm to become the youngest head gardener at Stowe. It was here that Brown’s trademark Arboretums and Ha has were implemented tying together the formal gardens and the further landscape. The ha ha for example is a seamless way to separate the gardens from the fields while not interfering the eye line with a fence or wall. But it was Lord Cobham’s vision for the Stowe based vice, virtue and liberty reflected in the gardens which is also inspiring , it reminds us that often true garden visionaries see garden design as an expression of self and of art. This is something we could take to our own gardens, to include things that we really love rather than things we think we should have. To curate a garden that truly reflects us as gardeners.

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