A Planting Extravaganza


The Brief

I was asked to provide a planting scheme for a new steeply sloping half acre plot.  At our first meeting, my client already had 3 levels of terracing under construction, with stunning Purbeck Stone walls either side of a striking set of formal steps.  That left them with empty beds measuring 130m2, containing 60 tonnes of top soil – poised and ready for planting!  But what to plant and where to start?

The brief was to create a showcase of colour, texture, leaf shape, grasses and scent.  Whilst the client wanted to encourage wildlife, it was important that the overall effect was sophisticated and naturalistic, not brash.

I always assess gardens from every angle, so that my planting scheme looks beautiful from all vantage points. In this case, reviewing the beds from top and bottom levels as well as from a first-floor corner picture window in the house.

By doing this I could see we needed height, structure and interest.  Whilst walking around the site I noted a strong SW prevailing wind.

My Design

As the garden was a planting blank canvas, I started by introducing structure from which to hang the rest of the planting scheme. The Purbeck Stone steps form the central point of the garden giving it a formal framework, so I recommended symmetrical planting at the centre with less formal planting as the eye travels to the outer edges of the beds. 

To create instant impact and a sense of a well-established garden, I recommended trees with year-round interest and yew hedging to give height and structure.  They create the perfect windbreak from that south westerly wind, protecting the more tender plants.  Yews also form a striking dark green foil, a beautiful back drop for distinctive shrubs like; cotinus, viburnum and swathes of cornus.

I infilled the beds with a mix of perennials, smaller shrubs, bulbs and grasses, planted in naturalistic drifts, so the diversity of colour, height and texture can be enjoyed from all viewpoints in the garden as well as that gorgeous picture window. 

The depth and variety of colours in this planting extravaganza has merged beautifully with the light Purbeck Stone, softening any hard edging but also complimenting one another so neither aspect over shadows the other.

The client is so thrilled with their garden they regularly open it to the public as a showcase to others.


 “The garden you have designed for us looks stunning.  We are delighted and had 350 visitors when we opened it to the public.”

Mr & Mrs D, Bishops Waltham

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