Darmera + water

Darmera + water

The finishing touch to your garden is, of course, the planting, which brings life and growth and the dimension of time as things mature and fill out. I can prepare planting plans, order the plants and plant the garden as part of a larger garden project or renovate old planting in an existing mature garden. I have worked with a number of tree and plant nurseries over the years and can guarantee that they will supply top quality plants most of the year round. Given enough lead-time, I can get most plants in cultivation and given an adequate budget, can get them delivered to your door!

Planting examples

Planting examples

Vegetable gardening

If you’ve any space at all, I would recommend everyone grow his or her own food. Modern western peoples are losing sight of food production and what is lost both nutritionally and socially by relying on supermarkets and fast food. Buy seed, read a few books on organic gardening and get started. Fresh, home-grown food not only tastes better, its more nutritious and doesn’t have plastic bags that then get thrown away! If you need help setting out your plot, ask me when designing your garden to incorporate somewhere to grow food. In fact, while you’re about it, start making your own bread and process your own food! For a view on how narrow and impoverished our modern western diet is, try and look out Bill Mollinson’s seminal book, ‘The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition’ Tagari Publications 1993. It gives an important insight into how people around the world deal with food when there are no fridges or even cookers and get the most nutrients out of what is available locally.


Another important aspect to consider is lighting your outside space. There are so many good low energy lighting products on the market now that it seems as negligent to leave lighting out as it would be to leave your inside space unlit. Well-designed lighting schemes use little energy, make your garden useable into the evening and instead of looking at black windows at night, they also give depth to the exterior while sitting indoors. I use qualified electricians for all installations so you can be sure of a safe working system.

Lighting examples

Lighting is essential but it must be designed well
so as to cause least light pollution and least energy


“Water is the element of selfless contrast,
it passively exists for others…
water’s existence is thus an existing-for-others…
It is its fate to be something not yet specialised…
and therefore it soon came to be called
the mother of all that is special"

Hegel Encyclopaedia of the philosophical sciences Oxford 1970

I have extensive experience of designing and installing bespoke water features. Whilst I prefer to integrate water features into a new garden design, I recognise that there may be opportunities to install pools, water courses or fountains into existing spaces, to bring new life to forgotten areas and link areas of a garden where other built structures would be inappropriate. The example shown here is a garden I worked on while working for Hamilton Landscapes in Blackheath. It was designed by the Architect owner and illustrates perfectly how well a pool can be sited in an existing mature garden.

London garden pool

A London garden with new pool (courtesy of Hamilton Landscapes)

If you have a garden that is looking a bit tired, think about having w ater, moving or still, to give more depth to a space. The added dimension plus the reflections or movement from simple ripples brings a space alive and quickly becomes a focal point for wildlife activity. There are so many ways in which water can be used that it’s pointless trying to list them. Try and think of how natural watercourses work and you’ll soon realise that you can simplify the whole scheme to just four elements - source, course, outlet, and destination. (Source: Water Power by Anthony Archer-Wills)

Upper Pool and Rill

Upper Pool and Rill (right)

The form these elements take are all part of the design process and can help to focus or link other areas of the garden together.

There are many books on water gardening available but for a completely different view on the properties of water itself see ‘Sensitive Chaos, the creation of flowing forms in water and air’ by Theodore Schwenk (Rudolph Steiner Books 1996). It gives a fascinating account of the evolution of biological form from the interaction of waters’ own inherent properties and the earth’s gravity.

© spacemagic garden design 2012