Interview with a Garden Designer

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We’ve been designing homes in London and the South East for over 30 years. In this time we have created a network of partners we are always happy to work with, which helps self-build projects to run smoothly. To pass on some of our partners’ wisdom, we’ve asked them a handful of questions, the responses to which we will be sharing here on our blog.

The first such interview is with Georgia Lindsay, a garden designer in London whose work we greatly admire.  So here goes…

Q: What is the difference between a landscape Architect and a garden designer?

It’s an interesting question and one often discussed within the industry.

A Landscape Architect is licenced and accredited to work on commercial or public spaces with a deeper understanding of construction methods. A garden designer usually focuses on residential commissions and will be recognised for their depth of horticultural knowledge and visual aesthetic.

However, each has versatile skills. I think a fusion of both is ideal in combining a dynamic hard landscaping framework with exceptional planting woven throughout, depending on the setting.

Q: When is the right time to appoint a garden designer if you are refurbishing a property, or building something new?

It’s very wise to design concurrently, both the internal and external works as one after all the relationship between the two is inseparable.

In an ideal world, the architecture of the building complements the surrounding outdoor space and vice versa, to create complete harmony. The most successful projects invariably place equal thought and attention to detail to both the architecture of the building and outdoor spaces.

It is always frustrating to see a new development where the landscaping appears like an afterthought and a rectangle of grass becomes a gesture towards a garden. This uninspiring space actively discourages any connection with nature.

I would always suggest engaging a landscape designer as soon as possible to ensure the building has a good relationship with its surrounding space and that both have been designed with sustainability in mind.

Q: How do architects and garden designers work together?

Historically landscape/garden designers and architects have always worked closely together exhibiting sensitivity for each discipline. They act as a sounding board to each other to grow initial ideas and inspire each other to push the boundaries. Decisions can be made early on to adjust elements in the design to ensure the house and garden work effortlessly together.

Q. We are often asked by clients to ensure the indoor space works well with the outdoors. What are the main factors to consider from a garden design point of view?

Each view through every window is vital whether this is an existing window or deciding where to place a new window. We enjoy our gardens as much from the inside as we do right in the middle of them so getting the perspective of the vistas right is critical. If these architectural design choices are made in conjunction with the landscape or garden design the end result can be magical.

Outdoor storage is also worth considering early on and can be integrated into the fabric of the building to ensure both works together seamlessly.

For example, we are all using our gardens far more as an outdoor room with comfortable chairs and sofas. The storage of the cushions can be integrated into the parameter of the building to create a practical solution. Outdoor kitchens and gas fire pits are also increasingly popular so ensuring the gas installation are installed at the construction stage is hugely valuable. (See roof terrace)

Q: We use artificial lighting design extensively in designing indoor spaces, is it something you consider for gardens too?

Lighting design in gardens is an absolute must for me. I always encourage clients to consider this element very closely.

The lighting should enhance the planting in just the same way artwork is lit internally; pools of soft light are always preferable to glaring floodlights. Plants should be subtly lit from below concealing the source of the light. The leaf and plant structure are enhanced to create an atmospheric and inviting setting that can be enjoyed in the garden, but also from internal views.

Q. With garden space at a premium in London, what are the options for those with small spaces?

If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space in London, I would encourage you to maximise its potential no matter how tiny it is. Small gardens are some of the hardest spaces to design but equally the most rewarding.

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When you maximise every little nook and cranny it is possible to have a truly extraordinary space. It’s important with small spaces to be as ingenious as possible, creating multi-use areas to get the most out of the space.

Q. What materials and plants are en vogue in 2020?

Clay pavers and permeable paving solutions that allow rainwater run-off are going to become a major consideration when designing both buildings and gardens; products that facilitate this and look beautiful at the same time are going to be increasingly popular.

Sustainable or recycled products will continue to be a priority when used creatively in contemporary gardens. Planting trends sometimes take a while to catch up with Chelsea’s colour of the year. Andy Sturgeon’s Best in Show 2019 at Chelsea showcased the beautiful simplicity of tones of green and I think we will see simpler planting schemes with more select plant groups and green being the focal colour.

Q. With Chelsea Flower Show cancelled this year, where can aspiring gardeners go for inspiration on design and planting?

We are all so devastated by the cancellation of the Chelsea Flower Show and all the other RHS shows that were due to take place this spring and summer. The designers were all gearing up for their intense two-week build and are more disappointed than any of us that they cannot bring their vision to reality.

Fortunately, they are now opening up their own gardens imparting their knowledge and design trends on live feeds. There are so many great tips and ideas to be found virtually and on social media.

Ann-Marie Powell is one of my favourites with her My Real Garden profile on Instagram, with fantastic horticultural and design ideas. You can also follow Virtual Chelsea via the RHS website all this week Including interviews with designers and growers with masses of inspiration to be had.

I am more grateful than ever to have a garden to retreat to at this time, it’s a constant source of inspiration and a haven of calm. Our need to connect with nature is so profound and with the pace of life slowing considerably during lockdown it has opened our eyes more than ever to what is really important in life.


Thank you, Georgia. 

You can find out more about Georgia Lindsay on her website here.