Helen has a background in Fine Art Photography and, having gained a Masters in Fine Art, spent several years in the photographic industry working with architects to produce visualisations. She went on to retrain as a garden designer at LCGD, graduating with distinction, and founded award–winning design studio Rigden Saunders with fellow LCGD graduate Tabitha Rigden.
RIGDEN SAUNDERS GARDENS
Rigden Saunders gardens are characterised by clean, minimalist lines contrasting with loose, naturalistic planting schemes. Sustainability is a driving force from concept through to build; their gardens strive to support the ecosystems within them, each is rooted to its location and designed for longevity. Rigden Saunders work on gardens of all sizes in both urban and rural settings. Creative concepts, bespoke features, highly tuned attention to detail, open minds and friendly faces enable successful working relationships with all their clients.
This design blurs the boundaries with the local woodland landscape, using naturalistic planting, with a series of overlapping platforms, which appear to ‘float’ above the planting. The garden also takes inspiration from the local chalk rivers typical of the Chilterns, incorporating a dry river bed which helps to absorb rainwater and prevent runoff. A natural pool at the bottom of the slope, is fed by rainwater from the roof, and is a tranquil spot, as well as being beneficial for wildlife.
The brief called for screened spaces to dine and entertain, whilst enjoying the view. A cantilever deck allows dining close to the house, and within the greenery. A platform at the top of the garden provides a space to enjoy the afternoon sun.
A foraging element – The woodland edge planting incorporates fruit and vegetables through apple trees, and fruit bushes, as well as vegetables throughout the planting, which are both ornamental and edible.
This site is part of the National Forest, and was planted with a native mix of trees about ten years ago. The clients invite school groups in to learn about the woodland and local wildlife, and wanted to expand on this by building an educational base on site. They wanted a garden where they could enjoy entertaining and growing their own food, as well as have some screening from the educational zones.
The design links with the architecture, but also responds to the local landscape. The channelling and capture of existing water on site, is the basis of the design, forming a series of pools, which links with the view of the reservoir. Much of the woodland is retained, while areas of meadow and wetland, provide a mosaic of different habitats, and destinations around the garden.
The education base is a tree house, giving the kids a new perspective amongst the canopies. Woodland glades will provide spaces where they can collect natural materials to build dens and habitat piles, as well as cook the food they have grown in their own productive garden.
Inspiration for this Godalming Garden design was drawn from the architecture of the house, with its period vernacular character and rectilinear brickwork, to create an informal garden combining organic forms and rectilinear detailing.
The front garden is a ‘gravel garden’ which grounds the house within the landscape, befitting the area and soil conditions. It allows for a light-touch hardscape with a low carbon footprint.
The back garden was inspired by a woodland glade, reflecting the local Surrey landscape, and providing a tranquil enclosed space concealed from those outside it. Wow-factor specimen trees define the spaces, and a water pool adds interest for humans and wildlife alike.
Inspiration for this garden was drawn from the surrounding landscape – this 12-acre site comprises a domestic garden around the farmhouse and three large fields that have been used for grazing sheep. The farmhouse is due to undergo some subtle remodelling, with a contemporary extension added, and felt detached from the landscape – and the epic view of the North Downs. We aimed to fuse the house to the landscape, by emulating the surrounding landscape within the site and creating a visual relationship between the two.
Our clients were keen on the idea of rewilding element of the landscape – the copses and scrub that would have once existed on this site, as well as creating wetland areas and bolstering native planting that already exists on site to aid drainage as the entire site is waterlogged after heavy rain.
This garden design was a collaboration with Joana Rzepa. The brief for this small courtyard garden was to create a space which was both welcoming to wildlife and an entertainment/relaxation space for the client. We divided the space into two main zones, a cooking/dining area, and a more casual fire pit space.
The space had a slightly industrial feel which we wanted to build on using materials which had a weathered patina, such as the oak sleepers and steel mesh for the climbers. We also used plants that would creep between spaces and give a slightly wild feel. Trees and plants were chosen which provided nectar-rich flowers and berries both for year-round interest and to attract wildlife.