Freya Willetts

I will graduate from the LCGD Garden Design Diploma in June 2021.

I hold an RHS Level 2 Certificate in Plant Science and have practical horticulture experience from volunteering at Fulham Palace Historic Garden in West London. In 2019 I helped build the RHS Sanctuary Garden at Hampton Court Flower Show and in 2020 I worked as a self employed garden designer in London prior to starting my diploma.

Before training in garden design I worked as a Communications Manager in the charity sector. This experience in engaging closely with clients on creative assignments and managing complex projects underpins my training as a garden designer.

You can follow me on Instagram and find out more about my work on my website.

Instagram: @freyawilletts_gardendesign

Projects

Cambridge Cottage, Kew Gardens / Corporate

The brief was to re-imagine the gardens of Cambridge Cottage, one of Kew Gardens’ event venues that is used primarily for weddings as well as funerals, private parties and corporate events. Inspired by the nearby River Thames, insights from the Kew Events Team and my own personal response to the site, I created a dramatic watery landscape that sets this venue apart from competitors and offers a unique experience to visitors.

There are three key areas in the garden: The new entrance and arrival terrace greet guests with a naturalistic but luxurious space with layered views and routes that invite exploration, with break-out lawn circles to rest and enjoy the planting. Venturing further in, a reflective pool with terraced edge offers flexible character for the different types of events held in this space – a ‘wow factor’ backdrop and photo spot for weddings and parties, as well as a contemplative and restorative energy for funerals or private visitors. The pool is positioned to form the primary view from both the main reception terrace and from inside the drawing room where ceremonies are held. Beyond the reception terrace a woodland area provides a more playful space for smaller groups to unwind and children to play as an event unfolds. The combination of maze-like layout, woodland planting and dramatic reed lights in this part of the garden are intended to provide the sense of intimacy, exploration and excitement of a mini festival.

Materials of natural stone and sandy gravel recall the riverscape, while the planting is designed to create impact all year round with seed heads, foliage colour and tree bark taking starring roles in autumn and winter. Reed lights signpost routes and rhythm throughout the garden. The golden seed heads cast inside them are inspired by the ancient history of local Bronze Age river offerings and are a nod to Kew’s vital work in preserving precious and important plants for the future.

Office Courtyard / Corporate

The brief for this project was to design a shared urban courtyard garden using a piece of visual art as a starting point.

I chose a Japanese kimono from the V&A’s 2020 exhibition, which led me to explore themes of negative space, texture and layers and how to express these through hard and soft materials. Inspired by German studio Topotek 1, I was also interested in the way a space affects people’s behaviour and mood, and with this in mind I set out to create a garden that would encourage social interaction between two separate companies while also providing private work spaces.