Monthly Archives: July 2011

How to find a garden designer?

What does a garden designer offer that you can’t work out yourself? Designer Alison Hutchinson assesses some of the benefits of using a professional garden designer.

You wouldn’t dream of trying to create an electrical diagram of your house without consulting a qualified electrician, so why do we think we can design our gardens better than a professional can. For many the mere thought of the costs of employing someone to redefine their outdoor space is a huge hurdle but it needn’t be as costly as you imagine.

East Ruston Old Vicarage, Norfolk

Create design impact with strong visual effects

If you compare metre for metre it can be the least expensive room in your home. It can even save money in the long term by ensuring your money is spent in the best way and avoiding costly mistakes. Having a designer to draw up detailed plans can ensure any problems are smoothed out before any work begins and allows you to budget more accurately.

One of the key things a garden designer will do is to make you think about the way you use the space. You may need a lawn for the ubiquitous football goal now, but in 5 years the boys might have grown out of it and you can use the space for something else. A garden designer will understand all this and plan your garden accordingly so that what works for you now, will, with a few tweaks, continue to work in the future.

Topiary at East Ruston Old Vicarage, Norfolk

Using topiary can define a space

They’re used to manipulating space and will understand the growth rates of individual trees and plants so that you plant the garden once and get it right

It’s important that you chose a designer who you can work with. Check out their credentials, look at examples of their work or ask them to take you to a recent garden. You’ll also need to think about how much time you’ll spend working in the garden so the garden you have designed matches your expectations.

It’s also important to be honest about what you can afford. A professional designer will aim to design within your budget but you are likely to get a very different garden in terms of materials used, features

Water feature at East Ruston Old Vicarage, Norfolk

Water features can add an element of surpirse

incorporated and bespoke craftsman designed pieces if you’re spending £10,000 as opposed to £5,000. And it’s not true that given a budget every designer will exceed it – most will want to give you the best garden you can afford so be honest and help them design to your budget.

I believe that every space can be comfortable, relaxed and beautiful without you feeling pressured to be perfect.  I would love to help you achieve your beautiful home. If I can help with a home or garden project please give me a call. Alison: 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

Your interior style

It is often the small things in a home that make the biggest impact. One of the things I love to do when working with a client on their home or garden is to discover the history and stories around their furniture and accessories. Everyone has a past and it is this which gives their lives interest. Some people collect pebbles or shells but they never trained as geologists while others collect glass scent bottles yet never wear perfume. These pieces all have a story, and together with the colour of the walls, the textures of the fabrics and the furnishings, bring a room to life.

Create impact on your dining table

A dining table can form the focal point in a room

Although I have a set of rules which I know will work to bring a colour scheme for a house together, I try not to impose my own personal style onto a client, after all they have to live with the rooms I have helped them create long after I have finished decorating and hung the window dressings. That is why I think it is important for a designer to get a full understanding of how a client will use a room and how it can best be decorated to suit their lifestyle. Living with and displaying prized possessions or antiques should be as important to the designer as it is the client.

While it might seem like a nice idea to be able to throw all your furniture and window dressings away every few years and start again, for most of us this is impractical and from an environmental point of view unsustainable. I would much rather work with a few interesting existing pieces and plan a room around them, often recovering or repainting furniture to ensure it fits. I also have a love of mixing contemporary styles and furnishings with antiques. For me this style of decorating allows the interior to reflect its owner’s life and loves.

Nottinghamshire bedroom

A stylish guest bedroom in this Nottinghamshire home

I don’t believe there is a secret to blending different styles within an interior, but you have to do it with confidence. There is no doubting that some of us are better at it than others but if you buy what you like you will invariably find somewhere to put it. We all tend to have one style which we buy into so work out what your style is, then work with the things you like and allow your style to grow from there. If you start by mixing small pieces of furniture and antiques, you can gradually work your way through a room. Try combining a traditional side table with a contemporary lamp and then pull the colour from the lamp into cushions or another accessory. And don’t be afraid of colour: it can dramatically change your home and your mood!

I believe that every space can be comfortable, relaxed and beautiful without you feeling pressured to be perfect.  I would love to help you achieve your beautiful home and garden. If I can help with a home or garden project please give me a call. Alison: 01572 747318 or 07973 843020.

Garden jobs in July

 July is a great month in the garden – as long as you can keep on top of the watering. You should begin to reap the rewards of your hard work in the vegetable plot so make sure you are cutting every day to keep new produce forming, remember to clip herbs too as this encourages they to keep growing – you are mimicking grazing animals in the wild remember.

Keep your borders going with the additional of late flowering plants

Your herbaceous borders might have peaked at the end of June so look for any gaps and infill with pots of colourful later flowerers – salvias, cannas and dahlia’s will all extend the season with Michaelmas daisies (Aster) taking you right through to Autumn and beyond.


Vegetable gardens

Start to harvest garlic and shallots

Thin out direct sown seedlings including beetroot

Keep on top of the vegetable garden and repeat sow to ensure you have crops well into winter

Plant out winter cabbages, spinach, beetroot, kale, broccoli and leeks. Repeat sow lettuce, salads, French and runner beans, carrots and beetroot for crops later in the season. Now is the ideal time to plan your autumn sowings of salad crops and herbs to get ahead.

Mature trained fruit trees can be an intrinsic part of your garden design

Prune trained apple and pear trees in the middle of the month. Remember you are reducing the spread and enabling the tree to put all its energy into producing fruit for next year.


Continue to deadhead in your borders to encourage repeat flowering

Prune wisteria taking long stems back to 6“ of the main stem

Prune wisteria now to encourage the flowers next spring

Cut back hardy geraniums to encourage fresh foliage and repeat flowering.  If you are going away for a couple of weeks then is the ideal time. Cut the foliage right down to the base, they will look terrible while you are away but have put on new foliage and be about to flower by the time you return!


If slugs are a problem, get a couple of chickens! Bantams do hardly any damage to your garden and provide you with fresh eggs. They won’t lay all year round like a more robust breed like a long island red might but they will keep pests at bay.

Your garden design needn't suffer with the addition of chickens if you get the right breed

Make sure you have a couple of nice places to sit and enjoy the garden – perhaps one seat positioned for sun and one for shade. There’s nothing better than being able to enjoy all the work you’ve put in but if you don’t make it easy with a well positioned seat you may miss it and only ever go into the garden to toil.

If you feel your could benefit from some help or advice on your home or garden please don’t hesitate to get intouch. Tel: 01572 747318 or 07973843020