Turning to design ideas as gardening year winds down

Rosemary Coldstream's garden

Rosemary Coldstream's garden - Credit: Archant

As the garden settles down for winter, and my thoughts of gardening start to outweigh the time I am actually spending in the garden (all of my bulbs are safely in the ground, and with the size of my garden the upkeep doesn’t take long during the winter), I have been thinking a lot about garden design. You may remember that earlier in the year, when I was at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I was taken with Kate Gould’s garden which was entitled “The Wasteland”. Kate lives locally in Radlett, and her garden at Chelsea was a gold medal winner.

I spoke to Kate about the job that she does, that so many people think they would like to get into – it is something I have often considered myself, and I wondered if designing gardens for a living would mean that she didn’t have as much time to look after her own garden. She told me “The garden at the office is a bit of a graveyard of bits from jobs so when I garden, I garden with my mum at her garden which is very perennial heavy so we work frantically in the spring up to the end of May and then sit back and enjoy. There is always maintenance of some kind to do but it is much more gentle gardening later in the year.” It was nice to hear that garden designers do still get to enjoy gardening in their own time, and I thought about the fact that some clients would probably want quite different things in their gardens, to what the designer themselves would pick in their own outside space. I questioned whether a garden designer would potentially be making their own mark on a client’s garden – or using their own distinctive style, but Kate told me “I always try to get a feel for what the client would like, we have an initial meeting where I always ask the client how they want to use their garden, what colours they like etc. and we build a picture quite quickly of what type of garden the client is going to enjoy.”

I was interested to hear about Kate’s garden at The Chelsea Flower Show (pictured). She told me: “A gold medal was such a relief. The garden wasn’t to everyone’s taste and I was so pleased that the judges understood the message and I was thrilled to hear all of the lovely comments made by the public during show week.”

Kate isn’t the only successful garden designer based locally, another garden designer living locally is Rosemary Coldstream. Rosemary has been a garden designer since 2006, and after having moved to the UK when she was 24, she worked in design and fashion before turning her hand to garden design, and completing her training at Capel Manor. I was interested to hear that what she enjoyed most about working in garden design, was: “Creating beautiful spaces for my clients to enjoy whether it be just relaxing in or gardening in. Often the garden design process awakens a desire to learn about gardening and plants. But the main thing is they derive pleasure from their garden no matter what their horticultural interest is.”

Like Kate, Rosemary has also exhibited at Chelsea – she built the trade stand for The British Plant Nursery Guide in 2012, and her garden featured a Morris Minor traveller in a 1950’s picnic garden setting. Having shown me some photos of work that she has completed, I was struck by the planting that she uses, and how harmonious the gardens that she has designed appear. I know I’ll be keeping a keen eye out to see whether she is designing a show garden for any of the shows next year.

If you are thinking about changing your garden, or would like to make some differences in the new year, the next couple of months are the perfect time for getting out your sketch pad! For more information on either of these fabulous local designers, you can visit their websites: kategouldgardens.com and rosemarycoldstream.com

My pick of the best – Christmas ideas for the gardener in your life (or just a treat for yourself)

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As this will be my last column before Christmas, and I know that lots of you will be busily looking for ideas for Christmas gifts – I have been selecting my favourite gifts for Christmas.

1. Top of the Christmas list for me this year, must be the fabulous Bloom & Wild. A company that I discovered a few months ago – delivering flower subscriptions, or one-off flower delivery through the post. Their low-cost, long lasting flowers are a definite winner as far as I’m concerned, and because they fit through the letterbox, they are a brilliant present for someone who might not be at home to receive a delivery. The flowers are carefully packaged, and open up to form a full bouquet when arranged in a vase. The design is chic, and if you choose a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly subscription, it’s a wonderful surprise to see what flowers they have chosen for you next. Subscriptions start from £40.00 for three boxes, or £16.95 for a one-off box. Bloomandwild.com

2. For something longer lasting than flowers, take a look at The English Cloth Company; with a selection of designs – several of which are plant inspired, textile designer Freya Barton creates beautiful products ranging from napkins, to tablecloths, and aprons. A new Christmas design, incorporating holly and ivy, has just been released, and with the excellent quality of these products, combined with the unique designs, they are definitely worth asking Father Christmas for! A set of four napkins is priced at £22, and the full range can be ordered online – with gift bundles also available. Theenglishclothcompany.com

3. If flowers and interiors aren’t your thing, and you’re looking for something for the garden – you can buy artisan garden products from Hortus Felix. For stylish plant supports, which will look good in your borders when they are looking a little more empty, as well as serving their purpose and protecting your plants when the flowers are overflowing in summer, you might consider Hortus Felix. Prices and designs are available upon request, but to check out some examples; head to hortusfelix.blogspot.co.uk