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.
‘It makes a lot of sense to have the landscape designer in the team from the outset, to be involved with the architect in masterplanning the site, including garages, outbuildings, swimming pools, tennis courts and so on, ensuring they are in the best possible location and to maximise the opportunities for the garden to run out from the house,’ says garden designer Graham Lloyd-Brunt.
An initial feasibility meeting on site to talk about ideas will allow a designer to determine the potential and scope of a project, plus rough costs involved.
The next stage is the development of an initial creation of a masterplan before the agreed design and specification are prepared for contractor tendering and more formal costing.
A designer’s fee could be fixed or calculated as a percentage of the project cost – a rule of thumb percentage is about 15%–20% for the design and project management, but, of course, much depends on the scale and complexity of your project.
Specialising in the design of larger country gardens across south-east England and the Channel Islands, Sussex-based Debbie Roberts and Ian Smith are three-times winners of the Society of Garden Designers Large Residential Garden Award. They are known for well-structured designs softened with a lightness of touch and full, naturalistic planting.01403 891084; www.acreswild.co.uk
Andy Sturgeon Design
Winner of numerous RHS Chelsea Flower Show Best in Show and Gold medals, including both in 2019, landscape and garden designer Andy Sturgeon favours bold contemporary design, natural materials and innovative planting. The practice works across the UK and internationally.
01273 672575; www.andysturgeon.com
Angela Collins Garden Design
Designer of classic gardens with full, romantic planting, Angela Collins works on large country-garden projects across Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. She is admired for creating gardens that are sensitive to their historic settings and for her deep horticultural knowledge.
07876 592440; www.angelacollins.co.uk
Well known for creating magical spaces with a calm feel, innate understanding of proportion and a strong sense of place, distinguished designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd has 50 years of experience and says she still enjoys ‘finding something new in every project’.
020–7931 9995; www.arabellalennoxboyd.com
Arne Maynard Garden Design
Designer Tricia Guild recently described Arne Maynard as ‘one of the finest garden designers working today’. His romantic gardens nestle around historic houses, creating a timeless feel with structural designs, pleached trees and strong-shaped topiary mixed with soft planting of lavender and roses. Mr Maynard is also an author, lecturer and expert plantsman.
020–7689 8100; www.arnemaynard.com
Wiltshire-based landscape architect Balston Agius is run by experienced designers Michael Balston and Marie-Louise Agius, who work both nationally and internationally, offering a broad range of services and expertise. Their practice specialises in land works, creating completely new estates that incorporate wildflower meadows, lakes and walkways, as well as woodlands and copses.
01380 848181; www.balstonagius.co.uk
Influential designer Christopher Bradley-Hole describes his approach as ‘contemporary, with roots in strong classic principles’. His current projects include large country gardens on estates in Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Surrey, and phase two of the gardens at RHS Wisley, Surrey, involving the new landscape in front of the Arts-and-Crafts laboratory. Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Land-scape is the firm responsible for the execution of his designs.
020–8939 1749; www.bhsla.co.uk
Dan Pearson Studio
Known for his naturalistic planting using perennial plants and grasses and incorporating native trees, Dan Pearson is a leading landscape designer, horticulturalist, writer, gardener and advocate of respect for the environment. He is garden adviser to the National Trust at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, and his book on his designs for the 600-acre Tokachi Millennium Forest in Japan will be published this year.
020–7928 3800; www.danpearsonstudio.com
Elks-Smith Landscape & Garden Design
Helen Elks-Smith is known for her understanding of the way gardens make us feel and ability to translate her sensitivity into timeless designs that relate well to their settings. She is the recipient of several awards for her residential garden designs and works across London, in the Home Counties and along the South Coast.
023–8178 2660; www.elks-smith.co.uk
George Carter Garden Design
George Carter is a respected garden historian and author who specialises in formal gardens. He creates theatrical settings for major colleges and elegant buildings, inspired by the simple geometry of 17th-century gardens, using traditional hedging, topiary, stone obelisks and statues.
01362 668130; www.georgecartergardens.co.uk
Harris Bugg Studio
Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg run an award-winning practice known for imaginative transformations of gardens at country estates, often in areas requiring careful conservation considerations. Current projects include the revitalisation of Clumber Park pleasure grounds in Nottinghamshire for the National Trust, the historic walled kitchen garden at RHS Bridgewater in Greater Manchester, and the design of the M&G Garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea.
01392 927172; www.harrisbugg.com
I & J Bannerman
Landscape of Dreams is an apt title for Isabel and Julian Bannerman’s book, given their specialisation in imaginative, magical gardens with abundant herbaceous planting among dreamy re-created follies and gateways. They have designed gardens for The Prince of Wales at Highgrove, Gloucestershire, and the Castle of Mey, Caithness.
Well-known RHS judge and council member James Alexander-Sinclair is also a garden writer, TV presenter and popular lecturer. Based in Oxfordshire, he runs a small, personal, garden-design practice, working across the UK and abroad, tackling master planning from vegetable gardens and orchards to woodlands and spinneys.
07515 336356; www.jamesalexandersinclair.com
Accomplished plantswoman Jinny Blom is known for her highly creative and artistic approach to garden design, in styles that can be formal or informal, but always appropriate to their site. A favourite designer of The Prince of Wales, she is a repeat Chelsea medallist and focuses on gardens for private residences across the UK, as well as Europe and America.
020–3950 2899; www.jinnyblom.com
Jo Thompson Landscape & Garden Design
Expert plantswoman Jo Thompson runs a leading architectural-garden design studio, known for creating private and public gardens that are sensitive to their location and history, as well as intelligently planted. She will return to the Chelsea Flower Show again this year with the RHS Garden for Friendship, which will be created in collaboration with keen gardener and radio presenter Zoe Ball.
020–7127 8438; www.jothompson-garden-design.co.uk
Landscape architect Kim Wilkie is admired for sculpting the land, creating calm, green geometric patterns on a large scale, often in historic settings. More recently, he has also focused his work into considering how we live with the land, advising on the development of farming and new cities.
01489 891691; www.kimwilkie.com
This full-service company offers garden design, construction, planting and main-tenance, covering both private and public projects, such as the first public park in Gibraltar. The firm has won multiple RHS medals for its design and construction work, describing its speciality as achieving ‘beautifully balanced gardens with a delicate combination of strong architectural features and soft, naturalistic planting’.
01276 856145; www.landformconsultants.co.uk
Lloyd Brunt Outdoor Design
Specialising in family gardens in the Home Counties and occasionally in London, Graham Lloyd-Brunt is known for designs that successfully combine simple, classic lines with bold, abundant and seasonal planting. Full borders close to the house gradually give way to flower meadows as the garden softly merges into the countryside beyond. Many of his projects include swimming pools and greenhouses, created complete with places to sit and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.
020–7222 2777; www.lloydbrunt.com
Marcus Barnett Studio
The creative use of a restrained palette and of elements drawn from local materials and plants gives this studio a distinctive edge. Garden designs are often deceptively simple, yet rich in their sense of place — something that is earning the award-winning studio, headed by principal Marcus Barnett, a growing client base both across the UK and internationally.
020–7736 9761; www.marcusbarnett.com
Pip Morrison Landscape Designs
Admired for his sensitive, thoughtful approach to design and expertise in historic development of old gardens, Pip Morrison is currently working on the master planning of the gardens at Auckland Castle in Co Durham, including the 18th-century formal pleasure grounds. He is also designing a tranquil wild garden for the Maggie’s Centre in Oxford and a variety of both contemporary and historic private gardens.
07817 736360; email@example.com
Robert Myers Associates
Specialising in contemporary gardens in historic landscapes, this practice undertakes both public and private projects, which currently includes listed Youngsbury House in Hertfordshire, which is set in a Capability Brown landscape. Robert Myers will also return to RHS Chelsea for the first time in seven years with a show garden celebrating modern-day nursing, to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.
01885 227377; www.robertmyers-associates.co.uk
Award-winning garden designer Matt Keightley runs an end-to-end design and build studio, tackling private and commercial gardens. He is known for restrained designs with carefully calculated structures and charming planting, with projects that currently include a luxury resort in the Philippines, a country estate in Berkshire and extensive land-scaping at an Art Deco apartment block in north London. He will return to RHS Chelsea this year with his fifth show garden, this one for the Royal Army Medical Corps Charity.
020–8255 0132; www.rosebanklandscaping.co.uk
Sarah Eberle Landscape Design
Hampshire-based landscape architect and garden designer Sarah Eberle is probably RHS Chelsea’s most decorated designer, with some 17 Gold medals under her belt. This year, she will return with the Psalm 23 Garden, which promises more of the thought-provoking design for which she is so well known.
01256 895754; www.saraheberle.com
Sarah Price Landscapes
Currently at work on a woodland garden for the Maggie’s Centre in Southampton and, together with Nigel Dunnett, a rooftop garden for the critical care centre at King’s College Hospital, SE5, Sarah Price’s lifelong love of wild environments is evident in her immersive, plant-driven designs. Based in Abergavenny, she is in demand for private and public gardens across the country, thanks to her artistic approach and playful use of materials.
020–7703 3973; www.sarahpricelandscapes.com
Writer and designer Lady Tania Compton is known for her flair in creating flower-filled meadows and abundantly exuberant gardens. A former garden editor of House & Garden magazine, Lady Tania has a strong eye for the beauty of Nature, as shown by the garden at her Wiltshire home, Spilsbury Farm.
Known for long-term landscapes for private and public projects at home and abroad, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan is garden adviser to Historic Royal Palaces, lecturer and author. His practice is now re-casting the gardens around the Orangery at Kensington Palace, W1, and is equally at home turning its hand to contemporary gardens, such as the rooftop garden complete with ponds and boulders at the RIBA award-winning 4, Pancras Square, London N1.
020–7253 2100; www.tlg-landscape.co.uk
Planting schemes inspired by natural and semi-natural landscapes, combining modern design with prairie-style plants and grasses, have earnt Tom Stuart-Smith an international following. He is a multiple medal winner at RHS Chelsea and the co-master planner for the RHS Garden Bridgewater. His portfolio also includes The Hepworth Wakefield Garden, West Yorkshire, an extensive garden at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, and another for a castle on Loch Ness in Scotland.
020–7253 2100; www.tomstuartsmith.co.uk
With traditional gardens for large country estates her speciality, Lady Tollemache is an expert at transforming neglected landscapes. Meandering paths through clumps of lavender and roses, formal features such as obelisks and statues and dreamy ponds surrounded by lush planting are the hallmarks of her style, redolent of the garden she designed at her ancestral home, Helmingham Hall, in Suffolk.
01473 890799; www.xa-tollemache.co.uk
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