Tabitha gained her Garden Design diploma (with distinction) at LCGD following fifteen years working in the art world as a Paintings Conservator, during which time she founded the design publication MidCentury Magazine. She is now one half of design partnership Rigden Saunders, having joined forces with fellow LCGD graduate Helen Saunders, and has won Society of Garden Designers Awards in 2020 and 2021. She now sits on the editorial panel for the SGD industry journal and regularly contributes her own column.
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.
A courtyard garden designed for a small rural site near Marlow in Buckinghamshire. The garden sits between two buildings and adjoins a detached 1960s bungalow. It contains lush planting, chosen for its textural interest and limited colour palette, punctuated by two multi-stem Prunus serrula trees and a self-supporting metal structure for evergreen climbers – both adding vertical interest and detracting from the wall of the neighbouring property.
A limestone terrace, raised to sit flush with the house, contains integrated benches and space for a dining table, and affords views over the rolling countryside beyond the boundary hedge. The bench and water feature in the sunken gravel courtyard provide a sheltered place to sit after dark; bespoke Corten steel panels are mounted to the opposite wall and backlit at night to provide a focal point at dusk.
This garden draws inspiration from the element of fire: it is at the heart of the dining experience here and the theme is continued throughout the garden. The design embraces the instinctive sense of community that a fire brings, a central ’beacon’ encourages people to gather around it.
Specimen trees within ‘islands’ of planting serve to divide the space into a series of intimate dining rooms, each one partially screened from the next. Soft, ethereal perennials and grasses provide movement and translucency, as well as textural interest and colour, helping to define the routes through the garden and frame the views in every direction.
A series of woodland glades – which visually connect to the woodland beyond the site – provide a tranquil, enclosed space concealed from those outside it. Wow-factor specimen trees define the spaces, with a meandering path that leads to a secluded seat at the end of the garden.
The planting scheme is green and lush with form and textural interest. The interplay of light and shade within the garden serves to heighten these contrasts. A changing palette of muted colours adds a further layer of interest.
Photographs taken shortly after planting, to be updated as garden matures.
The garden is inspired by Chesham Bois, an area of woodland that can be seen from the garden, and a deciding factor in the purchase of the house. I wanted to give the clients an immersive experience, where they feel like they are stepping into the edge of the wood every time they use their garden. The clients are fans of modernist architecture, so the design and materials palette are inspired by the clean lines and strong geometry of their 1960s house.
This walled garden for a Georgian townhouse was inspired by the nearby East India Docks, which would have been a major trade port in the Georgian period. A rill and a shallow pool represent the canals linking the basin with the English Channel; the water makes its journey down the length of the garden, from a trough at the far end to the pool directly outside the building and additional levels have been created to accommodate this. The use of brick and Corten steel reference the period of the house and the area’s industrial heritage.
The microclimate created by the wall enables exotic plants to be mixed in with perennials and ornamental grasses to provide lush year-round structure. Living walls and a living roof brings the planting closer to the building, maximising the green potential of every surface in this built-up area.