Designing my Garden – Creating the Structure

Designing my garden was harder than I thought it would be. Two years after starting the construction  it is now complete. There was a slight lull in proceedings whilst an extension to the house was built.  We now have a fabulous design studio overlooking the garden. It sometimes proves very hard to get any work done!



Putting together a design brief was both tricky and illusive for quite some time with so many options and possible design directions.  So much easier designing a garden for someone else!

The main aim was to maximise enjoyment of the sun. We also decided that we would like a small kitchen garden (well, hubby did); storage for logs and catering for wildlife was to be an overriding consideration.

For a start my garden is north facing. The key to the layout is therefore to place the main entertaining area where it would get the last rays of the sun. This would have to be in the far corner of the garden. This also meant that the sun loungers would have to be alongside the dining area to ensure they are not in the shadow of the house.

The view from the double doors was crying out for a focal point. We divided the garden with a narrow path which was to lead to the large feature wall which became the main focal point. The actual look of the feature wall was yet to be decided.




This path divided the garden neatly in two. The ’kitchen garden’ sits to the left, conveniently situated in front of the kitchen, and the main […]

In a Cotswold Garden

The Blue Tulip Garden Design team (AKA me and hubby), took our annual pilgrimage to an inspirational garden last weekend. A short trip to the Cotswolds to visit Kiftsgate Court Gardens, and just across the road, quite literally, Hidcote Manor Garden.

What strikes you most is how each garden has been designed on the basic principle of a series of rooms. The garden visitor is guided through a maze of narrow pathways and secret gardens, each with its own character, some formal, some informal. This is an ideal way to create interest within a large garden, and encourages the visitor to explore further

Some rooms are revealed only once you enter through a defined ‘doorway’ such as a well-trimmed hedge. Some encourage you to linger with seating provided and others, it’s a quick march through to the next.

Both gardens have used water features in very striking ways. Kiftsgate has a pool with a tremendous view across the Cotswold countryside with the hills of Malvern in the far distance. It was once a swimming pool, as was a raised circular pool at Hidcote.

One of the most recognisable water gardens in the UK can be found in an enclosed area at Kiftsgate. Once an old tennis court, a stunning reflective pool has been installed, a striking contrast to the abundance and colour elsewhere.


A Trip to RHS Tatton Flower Show 2016

An unexpected gap in my work schedule resulting from a few procrastinating clients meant I could sneak a visit to RHS Tatton Flower Show on Thursday with my garden design buddy Dawn. As an added bonus the sun shone almost all the time we were there, with only a threat of rain as we were leaving; quite a result!

We ended up staying five hours and still didn’t see everything but eventually ran out of steam. Like most visitors to the show we viewed the show gardens first. There were some popular themes that could be seen across several gardens, in particular the use of copper, used widely in various water features, but also in other elements such as the edging to a border and a few copper cubes.

Tatton Collage - copper water features

A popular hard landscaping material choice were small element paving with many garden designers using clay pavers, bricks and tile on edge in a number of gardens, often used alongside other materials. These give a very relaxed feel to a design, and can be used successfully in both traditional and contemporary gardens.


RHS Tatton Flower Show

Planting varied across a wide spectrum of colours from soft harmonious pastels to vibrant reds and pinks. Those I thought that worked best used purple as the basis of their planting schemes.

Tatton collage purples

Saying that, my favourite garden actually used a completely different colour scheme. This was the Gold medal winning Young Garden Designer […]

Designing my garden – site assessment

Designing my garden – site assessment

Yes, we DID decide to remove the conifers, no surprise there really! It was my number one priority as I wanted to gain back nearly 70 m2 of garden that we cannot do anything with whilst those bloomin’ trees are in situ.

So first decision made, what to do next? Well, every good designer starts with a plan, so its out with the tape measures to survey the site and carry out a site assessment.

I make a note of all the key dimensions; position of house relative to the rest of the garden, height and location of windows, location of windows, boundaries, where are the inspection covers, any changes of level and the position of anything I want to retain. Not much in this case. I also work out how the aspect of the site will impact on the design. I know the exact spot that receives the very last rays of evening sun on a summer evening so I need to make sure there is a seat just there. The site may be north facing but most of the garden will receive plenty of sun. It will only be close to the house and the boundaries that will be in shade at some or all times of the day. This will help me make the right decisions with regards to plants – I don’t want shade lovers baking in the sun or sun worshippers shrivelling in the shade.


Designing my garden - site assessment

The key issues that concern me are:

The view from the main French windows – how do I create a focal point that will be […]

A Garden for Nature – my own garden

A Garden for Nature – my own garden

I’ve given this post the title ‘a garden for nature’, even though that is not necessarily my number one goal. My main aim when designing a new garden is always to create something with a strong aesthetic, i.e. create a beautiful view to enjoy from the house every day of the year especially as here in the North West of England we are prone to a bit more rain than elsewhere!

So that’s what I set out to do with my own garden. We have plans to add an extension along the rear elevation of the house, that include floor to ceiling windows, so how our new garden looks from the house will be a key consideration. However, I’m partial to a bit of nature and have decided that this garden will be about balancing the design aesthetic with attracting wildlife so that the finished garden does not look completely wild and woolly (a rather harsh description of a naturalistic garden, my apologies!). I live in a town so in essence this is an urban garden, so too naturalistic will jar with the wider landscape. We’re surrounded by your typical suburban gardens, rectangular spaces bound by timber fences/trimmed hedges, a square lawn bordered by a (usually too thin) strip of planting.

I intend to explore the idea of designing a garden to attract wildlife in greater detail so there will be more on that at a later date. In the meantime, back to basics.

We moved in just over a year ago and have been taking note of where the sun is at different times of day, the most important of which is where the sun hits the garden in the evening […]

Designing a Large Family Garden in Chester

Designing a large family garden in Chester

So what do you do with a large plot and a budget that is substantial but a bit stretched for the size of the plot? Well, you have to compromise and prioritise. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful garden if you use the right garden designer 😉

Blue Tulip Garden Design had just this dilemma when we were appointed to design a garden in Chester a couple of years ago. Fortunately the client had young children who needed ALOT of space for their games and sports so we ‘designed’ in plenty of lawn.

The main priority was to provide the family with an extensive new dining terrace. This extended the entire length of the property, taking in the granny annexe, giving a few options for dining on the way. As this is a raised area, it provides a degree of interest in what is essentially a very flat plot. Extra wide steps create a seating area for family and friends to watch the children playing their completive sports on the lawn.  Planting has been brought close to the house so that it can be enjoyed close up rather than from a distance. Plants with some height were used to peep over the raised terrace. The purple flowered Verbena bonariensis grows up to 2.0m tall, always a useful plant to use en masse when you need an airy screening plant.

The […]