Sam has had a deep love of plants and the natural world since childhood. She has been creating beautiful gardens for herself and others for several years. After leaving a City career in Marketing she chose to hone her skills more fully at LCGD, and achieved a distinction in the Garden Design Diploma.
Her passion is creating gardens to suit the needs and lifestyle of her clients, never imposing a one-size fits all solution, but finding a style and scheme to fit the complex needs of busy families.
Sam has lived in the Chilterns for years, falling in love with its rolling hills, gorgeous old market towns, and ancient beech woods full of bluebells in the spring. It is here that she has launched Chiltern Garden Design, offering an all round design and maintenance service for clients in and around the Chiltern Hills.
Twitter – @sam_cowen
Cambridge Cottage today is no longer a royal residence but a venue for celebrations of all kinds. Weddings and other events held here should have a joyous feel and guests entering the garden should feel a sense of excitement and childish discovery, whilst at the same time enjoying an opportunity for quiet relaxation and intimate connection away from the hubbub of everyday life. A place where time stands still and we are connected to the elements as well as to each other.
Taking as inspiration the curved front wall of the Drawing Room, sensuous shapes of curved paths intertwine with water rills and pools around the whole garden, drawing the guests into a flowing journey of discovery and connecting each area to the next. At each turn the vista changes, and the planting subtly reflects a change of mood.
From a formal terrace with a subdued and muted colour palette and fresh, textural evergreens, the eye alights on a dark shimmer of falling water.
Water connects all parts of the garden, flowing gently over the edge of a bronze trough into a curving rill, which disappears momentarily underground and reappears around a bend. Dropping into a pebble hollow, the water resurfaces as a bubbling spring, then an oxbow lake with reflections of the plants and sky, culminating at a natural pond.
At each of these points the surrounding planting becomes looser and more naturalistic. Perhaps here, ushers can feel the capacity to loosen their bow ties and bridesmaids may undo their braids, relaxing a little in these more natural surroundings. As the celebrations continue after dusk, the water glistens, the trees shimmer and the terrace is aglow with soft light.
The clients were in the middle of having their 3 bedroom property completely renovated and extended, and wanted a garden to match. Contemporary in style, grown up in sophistication, the garden needed to suit the needs of an adult family, with space for entertaining, lounging, sunbathing, storage and relaxation, as well as making the most of its views into local woodland. The front garden also needed a complete makeover and space for parking two cars.
This property was being redeveloped to include a new indoor swimming pool building, and the clients wanted a new garden to reflect their lifestyle and interests. They had a love of the mediterranean, contemporary planting with grasses and teenage boys who needed space to run around. The design contrasts the sharp angles of the building with soft flowing curves, and plays with light and shade. Zones around the garden flow from zingy mediterranean style planting on the bank, to soft woodland underplanting around the side of the house, and a perennial meadow at the end of the garden, where a summerhouse deck allows the clients to enjoy cocktails with a sunset view.
A complete redesign was requested for this 3.5 acre garden for an extended family of parents, teenage kids and energetic grandparents. The family all ride, swim, love to run and walk in the countryside, and wanted to be able to make the most of the outdoors throughout the seasons, as a complement to their healthy lifestyle.
The design incorporates a sleek, crisp style into an ancient 17th Century farmhouse frontage, seamlessly blending old and new, and making the new garden feel like it should always have been there. The concept – Fit for Life – runs through the garden in many ways, from the inclusion of a new natural swimming pond and updating the equestrian facilities, to the shape of the gardens paths and features, which originate from the double helix of the code for life itself: DNA, swirling and unravelling along the length of the garden to a dramatic viewpoint overlooking the valleys and wooded hills of the Chilterns.
At the heart of the design is a sense of fun – from the immersive experience of walking on water without getting wet, to swings by the summerhouse so even the adults have fun whilst waiting for their pizza to bake. This garden should provide enjoyment for all, not least through its exuberant yet stylish planting schemes. Please click on the images below to explore the design more fully.