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.
More from the Country Life Top 100:
- Best architects in Britain
- Best interior designers in Britain
- Best country house specialists in Britain
‘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.
Recommended videos for you
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.
Andy Sturgeon Design
Known for his bold, contemporary designs, innovative planting and use of natural materials, Andy Sturgeon creates thoughtful gardens rooted in their setting. Inspired by art and architecture and working with Nature, the designer creates gardens and estates across the UK and internationally.
A two-acre rooftop garden at Battersea Power Station in London has recently been completed and Mr Sturgeon is remodelling the gardens at the historic Beningbrough Hall in North Yorkshire. He has won Best in Show at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show three times and is the author of several books on garden design.
01273 672575; www.andysturgeon.com
Angela Collins Garden Design
Designer of classic gardens with full, romantic planting, Angela Collins works on major projects across Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. Recent work includes planting around the new visitors’ entrance at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, which will open in 2025.
07876 592440; www.angelacollins.co.uk
Arabella Lennox-Boyd Landscape Design
Well known for creating magical spaces with a calm feel, distinguished designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd has more than 50 years of experience and says that her design principles ‘are continually evolving to reflect new ideas and to deal with new challenges’. She has landscaped more than 700 gardens worldwide, is the recipient of a raft of prestigious awards and has six RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medals under her belt. Her work demonstrates an innate understanding of proportion and a strong sense of place, amply evident in her own garden at Gresgarth Hall, Lancashire (Country Life,
October 26, 2022).
020–7931 9995; www.arabellalennoxboyd.com
Balston Agius is run by landscape/garden designer Marie-Louise Agius with landscape architect Michael Balston acting as a consultant. The pair offer a broad range of services, with particular expertise on country estates and large-scale landscape remodelling.
01380 848181; www.balstonagius.co.uk
Alasdair Cameron’s lifelong passion for plants is evident in the lush oases he creates, be they verdant city gardens or abundantly planted gardens in the country. He specialises in working with the natural landscape to create relaxed spaces that can be enjoyed all year round, with atmospheric and imaginative designs, and his practice is known for its fully integrated garden-design, build and maintenance service.
Recent projects include a plantsman’s garden for a penthouse in London’s Whitehall, a herb garden, dining terrace, entertaining terrace, cutting garden and kitchen garden, roof terraces at Hyde Park and a listed Georgian home in Devon.
020–8969 3399; www.camerongardens.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 and advocate of respect for the environment. He has recently completed a new design for Delos at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, reimagining Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West’s vision for their Mediterranean-inspired garden. The studio is at work on projects in Tuscany, Italy, and the US and has been rejuvenating the gardens at Belsay Hall in Northumberland, an English Heritage initiative.
020–7928 3800; www.danpearsonstudio.com
Del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture
Italian-born Tommaso del Buono joined forces with American Paul Gazerwitz to set up this landscape-design practice in 2000. Both qualified landscape architects, they have a leading reputation for thoughtful designs, tailored to respond to their surroundings. The practice works internationally and, in addition to its London headquarters, it has an office in Florence, Italy. Current commissions include gardens in Greece, Italy, the US and the Caribbean.
020–7405 7405; www.delbuono-gazerwitz.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. Recent projects include London’s first rooftop forest, forming part of an urban workspace in Blackfriars, the historic walled kitchen garden at RHS Bridgewater in Salford and the return to Nature of a farm in Devon.
01392 927172; www.harrisbugg.com
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 King at Highgrove, Gloucestershire, and the Castle of Mey, Caithness.
Based in Oxfordshire, James Alexander-Sinclair runs a popular garden-design firm specialising in medium to large country gardens, working across the UK and abroad. Recent projects include gardens for Priscilla Bacon Lodge, a new hospice in Norwich, the renovation of a hotel garden in the Cotswolds, restoration of heathland in Surrey and creating a wildlife habitat in Berkshire.
07515 336356; www.jamesalexandersinclair.com
Accomplished plantswoman Jinny Blom is known for her artistic approach to garden design, in formal or informal styles that are always appropriate for the site. A favourite designer of The King, she is a repeat Chelsea medallist and focuses on gardens for private residences across the UK, as well as Europe and the US.
020–3950 2899; www.jinnyblom.com
Jo Thompson Landscape & Garden Design
Expert designer Jo Thompson runs a leading architectural/garden-design studio, known for creating private and public gardens that are sensitive to their site and history, as well as intelligently planted. A Fellow of the Landscape Institute and repeat medal winner at Chelsea, her latest book, The Gardener’s Palette, was described by the Sunday Times as ‘sure to become a classic on the subject’.
Her current projects include the regeneration of the historic walled gardens at Water Lane in Kent, the planting surrounding a 16th-century house in Sussex, a roof garden in Rome, Italy, and a naturalistic garden in Connecticut, US. Recent restoration projects include the planting strategy at Highgate Cemetery in London with Gustafson Porter + Bowman, and a secret garden in Venice.
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. After 25 years of running his own practice, Mr Wilkie now works as a strategic and conceptual landscape consultant, with many design projects under way, including a sculpture garden at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London and landscape redesign at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex.
He combines designing with what he describes as ‘the muddy practicalities’ of running a small farm in Hampshire, where he is now based, and considering how we live with the land: other projects include a dozen new towns and several private estates.
01489 891691; www.kimwilkie.com
Lloyd Brunt Outdoor Design
At any one time, the designer will be working on a handful of country-house projects, at present in Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, the Lake District and Yorkshire. Enhancing existing settings and developing clients’ own ideas, many projects involve large bodies of water with a great deal of yew, beech and flowering cherries planted, often in flower meadows underplanted with spring bulbs.
020–7222 2777; www.lloydbrunt.com
Marcus Barnett Studio
This practice has an international reputation for creating gardens and landscapes that combine strong architectural form and naturalistic planting. 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. Projects include large private country gardens and estates, leading hotels, villas, vineyards and resorts.
020–7736 9761; www.marcusbarnett.com
Leading landscape architect and plantswoman Marian Boswall is known for a strong understanding of how a garden relates to the house and the land beyond, and for planting that feels natural to the site. She works on large-scale regenerative landscapes, from wetlands and lakes to woodlands and wildlife-habitat creation, favouring timeless and sustainable design. She has a deep understanding of the natural world and is a co-founder of the Sustainable Landscape Foundation. Her recent book
Sustainable Garden was shortlisted for Garden Book of the Year.
020–7305 7153; www.marianboswall.com
Mazzullo + Russell Landscape Design
Since joining forces in 2014, directors Emma Mazzullo and Libby Russell have gone from strength to strength, working throughout the UK, Channel Islands and further afield. Their extensive experience allows them to take on the largest sites and a wide variety of projects, yet they can also turn their hands to the smallest of courtyard gardens and make it magical.
Working across the UK and internationally, the pair are known for high-quality, technically competent and well-considered designs overlaid with a romantic and original planting style. Recent projects include gardens for new houses designed by both Michaelis Boyd and Francis Terry.
020–7931 9996; www.mazzullorusselllandscapedesign.com
Specialising in bespoke residential schemes and commercial landscapes across the UK and internationally, Gavin McWilliam’s and Andrew Wilson’s garden-design studio has won more than 40 national and international awards since it was founded in 2010. Today, Mr McWilliam heads the studio and Mr Wilson acts as consultant. Garnering attention for its carefully tailored and contemporary designs, the studio has a reputation for crisply detailed construction, bold lines and abundant planting schemes in soft, muted colours that blend effortlessly with their architectural surroundings.
Expect attention to detail, a considered use of materials and, often, a sense of discovery and an element of surprise, all hallmarks of Mr McWilliam’s skill. Recent and current projects include a family garden for an Arts-and-Crafts house in Hertfordshire, contemporary designs for reimagined houses in the Home Counties and a large family garden in Holland Park with terraces for entertaining, as well as country gardens in Oxfordshire and for an estate by the river in Berkshire. Mr McWilliam will reveal his Transcendence garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this May, which promises to be a calm and spiritual space designed to reflect end-of-life experience.
07704 277304; www.mcwilliamstudio.com
Pip Morrison Landscape Designs
Pip Morrison is known for the redesign of the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, where the new statue of Diana, Princess of Wales was unveiled in 2021. He is admired for his sensitive, thoughtful approach to design and expertise in the development of historic gardens. Currently, he is working on the master planning of the gardens at Auckland Castle, Co Durham, including the 18th-century formal pleasure grounds.
07817 736360; email@example.com
Robert Myers Associates
Specialising in contemporary gardens in historic landscapes, this practice undertakes both public and private projects. The winner of six Gold medals at Chelsea, Robert Myers is currently working on the landscape around Christopher Wren’s historic church St James’s, Piccadilly, W1, and on private gardens in London, Cambridge, Birmingham and the Welsh Marches.
01885 227377; www.robertmyers-associates.co.uk
Sarah Eberle Landscape Design
Hampshire-based landscape architect and garden designer Sarah Eberle is probably Chelsea’s most decorated designer, with some 19 Gold medals under her belt. Working predominantly on the design of private gardens, including large country estates, she is a passionate advocate of environmental sustainability and the critical role of Nature in support of mental health and wellbeing.
07825 448620; www.sarah-eberle.com
Known for creating long-term landscapes for private and public projects at home and abroad, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan is gardens adviser to Historic Royal Palaces, a lecturer and an author: his new book, English Garden Eccentrics (Paul Mellon Centre, Yale University Press), was published in April 2022. Projects include The Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan, US, which was unveiled last year.
020–3327 3780; www.tlg-landscape.co.uk
Planting schemes inspired by natural and semi-natural landscapes, combining modern design with prairie-style plants and grasses have earned Tom Stuart-Smith an international following. He is a multiple medal winner at Chelsea and the co-master planner for RHS Bridgewater, Salford. Other recent projects include The Hepworth Wakefield Garden, West Yorkshire, work at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, Jellicoe Gardens at King’s Cross, N1, and a new garden at Knepp Castle, West Sussex, which seeks to maximise biodiversity.
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 created at her husband’s ancestral home, Helmingham Hall in Suffolk. Her most recent book, A Garden Well Placed (Pimpernel Press), describes that project and others, including the garden at her new home Framsden Hall in Suffolk.
01473 890799; www.xa-tollemache.co.uk
Country Life has once again delved into its to update the list of the finest architects in Britain — an
Whether you're embarking on a new-build or painstakingly restoring a listed building, here are the craftsmen with excellent foundations.
Of all the decorating trends that have been in vogue over the last 50 years – be it Scandi, Minimalism