Oliver trained at the London College of Garden Design in Kew Gardens and graduated in 2020. Now based in Beckenham but working all across London and the south east. Gardens are an extension of our living areas and Oliver aims to bring each client’s unique aesthetic to their outdoor space. Planting is integral to the success of any design and he will advise on evocative and sympathetic schemes to improve and transform your garden and make it a place you will love to enjoy throughout the seasons. Oliver’s inspiration comes from a love of the outdoors and nature. Each project presents new challenges and he looks to bring a sustainable, ecologically minded approach to garden design that adapts to the changing world around and to encourage both health and wellbeing as well as year round enjoyment.
The client brief was to redesign the gardens around a Georgian family house and to create a space that was capable of hosting weddings, conferences or business meetings and other large gatherings. The property sits on the borders of one of the UK’s largest plant collections and so it was important to allow for the new gardens to connect to and embrace the wider gardens of Kew.
In this garden I looked to create a space that allowed for both privacy but also a sense of grandeur in keeping with the house it surrounds. I designed a series of asymmetrical sloping raised beds made of Corten steel that would create a feeling of theatre and enclosure around the central areas and pathways leading up to the large water feature separating this garden form the wider park. In addition, I included more traditional and formal treatments such as the avenue of pleached tabletop Hornbeam trees leading from the main entrance pathway up to the main terrace in front of the house. It was key to the design to have both contemporary elements as well as more formal styling to keep the design current and exciting.
The clients for this project were an architect and an interior designer and so the pressure was on to create something that would make an impact. Their children had left home and so we were free to design a space that met the adults needs and not those of a young family. The key elements requested were a simple, easy to maintain garden with and area for a Bocce pitch and to embrace and add to the woodland setting that they had fallen in love with when they bought the house. The inspiration for this garden came from the work of Carlo Scarpa and the Brutalist Woodland Garden was created.
The house is situated on a gentle slope and I decided to separate it into two distinct levels and therefore two distinct gardens. The lower garden is home to the Bocce pitch and is surrounded by lush, green, architectural planting. However, it is still connected to the upper garden by the minimalist pool, waterfall and impressive cantilever steps in the polished concrete retaining wall up into the gravel garden on the upper level.
The upper level is dominated by a large rectangular water feature and interlinked concrete platforms. The platforms are designed so that they can be under lit to create drama and a sense of floating above the water and garden below. The planting is bright and colourful but drought tolerant to make for easy maintenance and to tie in with the brutalist feel of the garden structures around them. They are interspersed with grasses to provide autumn interest, colour and movement and also multi-stemmed Amelanchiers and Cherry for their blossom and colour. These are flanked by native trees such as Silver Birch and Field Maple to tie in with the existing woodland.
The site for this project is a family house situated in Ascot, Berkshire. The house is a Victorian detached cottage that has recently had a modern extension added and so offers two architectural styles to work with. Like many Victorian cottages, there is no real front garden, which means the frontage is in close proximity to the opposite neighbours. The garden is large and heavily sloped from the house down to a triangular point at the bottom of the garden. It is surrounded on the eastern border by tall woodland that is rather oppressive as is the large beech tree in the middle of the garden.
The client mentioned that one of the main reasons that they bought the house was the beech tree and particularly the way that it is back lit by the sun especially in autumn. The Japanese word “Komorebi” is the inspiration for this garden and so the shadows created by the leaves on the trees and the effect of dappled light as you move down the meandering garden path towards the more secret parts of the garden.
My solution to the brief is to level the area close to the house and to create a reflective pool directly outside the picture window in the kitchen. This will reflect both the perennial planting bed running alongside it and also the beech tree in all its glory. Pleached hornbeam trees with under planting along a brick wall to the front will provide privacy and a pollutant filter from the road. The garage will be converted into a home office / teenage den with access from the front so that teenagers can be kept out of the house and clients for the owner’s work do not need to enter the family space. The woodland edge is extended into the garden with a curved woodland path leading to a formal Victorian style walled vegetable garden with wooden green house and a further wooden door leading in the secret garden at the end that will one day become additional storage and composting etc when the children have grown up and left home.
Beckenham Place Park is a large country house, originally built in 1760 for John Cator, a wealthy timber merchant from Herefordshire. The company that has acquired the house and surrounding lands is looking to create a luxury boutique hotel, with a fully equipped sports and yoga spa. The target audience are city dwellers wishing to leave the big city behind and to escape somewhere that can offer both a sporting challenge and also a place of tranquillity. It will allow for rest and recovery as well as high end athletic training. In addition, being located only 20 minutes cycle ride from the Surrey Hills, the facility is well placed for road cycling excursions into the Kent and Surrey countryside. The clients want the new hotel and grounds to be a respite to frantic, urban London life. It should allow the guests to reconnect with nature, to recharge and return to their busy schedules rested and refreshed.
The master plan for the site is to embrace the fact that nature is nurture. The aim is for the guests to be completely immersed in a soft, naturalistic environment. From the moment they leave their car at the drop off point on the edge of the grounds they will be surrounded by nature. The entrance route will cross a new large body of water twice, revealing views across the lake and give glimpses of what is to come. As they travel round the grand looping driveway and along an avenue of native beech trees, the impressive Georgian entrance and facade of the house will be revealed.
The big idea anchors the design in the healing power of nature, however it must also be in keeping with the building to give it it’s sense of place. The design will deliver naturalistic gardens that might feel as though they have been there since the house’s construction, along with a more formal area typical of the period.
The fact the estate has been used as a public golf course for last 100 years has left it scarred and with a neglected feeling. The design will return the site to woodland and natural meadows delivering an increase in biodiversity and play a small part in addressing the pressing issues around climate change and carbon capture within the built environment. A sense of privacy and seclusion will be offered through the use of long ornamental grasses, flower meadows and areas of large massed perennial planting near the house and along the routes to and from the key spa areas. This will ensure that guests experience the planting at every opportunity.