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.
There are few more beautiful words in English than ‘summer afternoon’ and, to many, the scene that is conjured i one set on a lush, green lawn surrounded by borders filled with highly-scented roses, lying in the dappled shade of a mature cedar tree.
None of this happens by accident. A beautiful country house is as much about its surroundings as it is about its architecture and it takes the skill of the very best garden designer to create or develop a setting which achieves that perfect harmony between house and garden.
We are blessed with a vast pool of home-grown creative talent which can do just that – these are the professionals at the top of their game.
This revered practice was established by Debbie Roberts and Ian Smith in 1988 and has a reputation for creating stylish contemporary country gardens. Last year, its work was recognised by an award from the British Association of Landscape Industries – judges praised the exceptional planting and detailing. Although the firm predominantly works across the Home Counties, team members will travel further and have completed projects in London, throughout the rest of the UK, France, Spain and California.
01403 891084; www.acreswild.co.uk
With gardens characterised by billowing and romantic borders that are punctuated by strong, architectural planting, Warwickshire-based Angela Collins has built up a reputation over the past 25 years for creating individual gardens that marry the house to the countryside.
07876 592440; www.angelacollins.co.uk
A landscape designer since 1971 and the winner of numerous gold medals from Chelsea, Arabella Lennox-Boyd stands at the peak of British garden design. Not averse to intrepid plant-hunting trips (she has a passion for rare trees and shrubs), she’s known for her beautiful herbaceous borders.
020–7931 9995; www.arabellalennoxboyd.com
A London- and Monmouthshire-based designer with an architect’s training who has a reputation for creating gardens that balance a sense of wildness and order and the formal with the informal. His interest in gardens began during a holiday job working on the gardens of Cranborne Manor, Dorset; today, his projects take him all over the world.
020–7689 8100; http://arnemaynard.com
Winner of the SGD Historic Garden Restoration Award for his work at Villa Balbiano on Lake Como in Italy, Christian Sweet and his team work on a wide range of projects throughout the UK and Europe. The full-service practice covers every aspect of working with new and historically sensitive houses.
01823 332883; www.colsonstone.co.uk
Recently appointed by the RHS to develop the masterplan for the Society’s flagship gardens at Wisley, Surrey, the influential Modernist and winner of six gold medals and two Best Show Garden awards at Chelsea Flower Show is currently working on a 500-acre landscape near Henley. Recent projects include a new public landscape for the BBC at White City, a garden for the former Arsenal Football ground and gardens around the Stirling Prize-winning Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge.
020–8939 1749; http://bhsla.co.uk
Florentine Tommaso del Buono established the practice with American Paul Gazerwitz in 2000. Home is in Suffolk, but the team is based in London, from where it designs gardens that favour clean lines and play with scale and proportions.
020–7613 1122; http://delbuono-gazerwitz.co.uk
A sculptor-turned-gardener, George Carter
01362 668130; http://georgecartergardens.co.uk
Timeless gardens for modern living is Graham’s specialty. Based in Westminster, the practice tends to work on larger gardens for houses and hotels in London, as well as country-house gardens in southern England and, occasionally, further afield.
020–7222 2777; www.lloydbrunt.com
This new partnership only was established in 2017 when Hugo Bugg and Charlotte Harris merged their existing practices. Dividing their time between studios in Exeter and London, they’ve built up a reputation for delivering creative and eye-catching gardens, from contemporary London roof terraces to large country estates.
020–8191 7131; www.harrisbugg.com
Husband-and-wife garden designers ‘and builders’, who have worked on a number of gardens, including Asthall Manor, Houghton Hall, Arundel Castle and the stumpery at Highgrove. They have a reputation for being undaunted by unpromising sites and transforming spaces into romantic and theatrical gardens.
A psychologist until her mid thirties, Jinny Blom now stands at the forefront of English garden design, taking on projects that range from a lodge in Kenya to the Buckinghamshire home of Lady Getty via urban London gardens. Green structures and water (where possible) are key elements to her designs. Last year, she published The Thoughtful Gardener.
020–7253 2100; www.jinnyblom.com
Widely regarded as one of the first garden designers to pioneer meadow planting in private gardens, Julie Toll’s designs often involve collaborating with artists and craftsmen such as dry-stone wallers, sculptors and blacksmiths. Based in Hertfordshire, she works extensively overseas, particularly on the Caribbean island of Nevis.
01438 310095; www.julietoll.co.uk
With a considerable international following, the Hampshire-based landscape architect is known for originality and verve when it comes to garden designs. His work includes the transformation of the V&A’s courtyard and the restoration of parkland at The Grange in Hampshire, as well as many high-profile country estates.
01489 891691; www.kimwilkie.com
Multi-medal-winning designer, who designs Classical and elegant gardens for London town houses and rural landscapes. He’s donating the profits of his recent book, The Art of Making Gardens, to support trainee gardeners at Great Dixter, East Sussex, where he works with head gardener Fergus Garrett.
020–7622 2616; www.lucianogiubbilei.com
It was a commission in the Scots Guards that taught Marcus Barnett the art of understanding landscape and topography – a useful skill when it comes to redesigning country-house gardens and parkland for clients. Trees and architectural forms as well as hard landscaping form the foundation of many designs, which appear restrained and uncluttered before, on closer inspection, revealing layers of complexity.
020–7736 9761; www.marcusbarnett.com
Based near Devizes, in Wiltshire, and trained at the KLC School of Design in London, Marie-Louise Agius works on projects that range from roof gardens to large private estates. She won a Chelsea Gold Medal in 2013 and also looks after the gardens at Exbury, Hampshire, created by her great-grandfather, the celebrated plantsman Lionel de Rothschild.
01380 848181; www.balstonagius.co.uk
Until recently, Pip worked alongside fellow garden designer and author Mary Keen. Today, the accomplished landscape architect, who trained in Edinburgh, maintains a famously low profile.
A large, Cambridge- and Herefordshire-based practice that’s designed many private country gardens and public spaces, including the Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace and the Bowes Lyon Rose Garden at RHS Wisley. It’s currently working on designs for the proposed redevelopment of the In and Out Club on Piccadilly, W1.
01544 232035; www.robertmyers-associates.co.uk
This Kew-trained garden designer keeps a low profile, but has nevertheless built up a word-of-mouth following in the Cotswolds and beyond for his Classical planting. His project portfolio includes Daylesford House in Gloucestershire and Kingham Hill House in Oxfordshire.
As an experienced country-house landscape designer, Simon Johnson’s expertise takes him to projects all over the world, from the Mediterranean to New England in the USA. Based near Bath, he worked with acclaimed designer Penelope Hobhouse for many years.
As gardens adviser to Historic Royal Palaces, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan was responsible for the redesign of Kensington Palace’s commemorative White Garden, which opened last summer.
020–7253 2100; www.tlg-landscape.co.uk
Widely regarded as one of the country’s most influential garden designers, Tom Stuart-Smith has won eight gold medals and three best-in-show awards at Chelsea. Country-house gardens are a staple, but work takes him around the world. He’s currently designing the new RHS garden near Salford, the first stage of which is anticipated to open in 2019.
020–7253 2100; www.tomstuartsmith.co.uk
Hall, near Ipswich in Suffolk, was named the Historic Houses Association’s garden of the year in 2017. Her practice, which was established in 1996, favours a classic contemporary style. Her Global Growth garden, for RHS Hyde Hall in Essex, is due to open this summer.
01473 890799; www.xa-tollemache.co.uk
List compiled by Arabella Youens
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