3 of Surrey’s top female gardeners pick their hot trends for 2015

PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:50 28 January 2015

Selina Botham in her softly planted, wildlife-friendly Jordan's garden at RHS Hampton Court 2014

Selina Botham in her softly planted, wildlife-friendly Jordan's garden at RHS Hampton Court 2014

Leigh Clapp

This month, we meet three of Surrey’s most accomplished female garden designers – and find out what’s going to be big news in gardening for 2015

Looking for some garden inspiration? Perhaps you have a corner that you’d like to transform this year or maybe you are hoping to recreate your whole garden. Whatever your aim, now is the time to plan while the garden is dormant and the framework is in evidence.

Start by taking a critical look at your site, the architecture of your house, and the aspect and climatic conditions, as well as what grows well in your neighbours’ gardens and the local area.

Consider whether you want to echo or contrast with the period of your home, renovating the garden to what it was in its past or designing something quite different, as well as what you’d like to see from inside the house and if you want to create ‘rooms’ or see the whole garden at once.

Whichever one of these it is, calling in a garden designer can help clarify your vision or offer ideas you haven’t even imagined that will work beautifully on your site.

To pick up a few tips, and find out about the hot trends for this year, here we meet three talented ladies, who all took a change of direction to become garden designers, and are making their presence felt in Surrey’s gardening community.




Jane Farley

Poison Ivy Design


Following ten years as a flight stewardess for Lufthansa, then retraining as a nursery school teacher, Jane gave in to long-held yearnings to be more creative and, at the age of 36, studied garden design at Merrist Wood. In 2003, she went on to start her own business, Poison Ivy Design, which includes garden design and floral art, and has never looked back.

“I think I am the luckiest person in the world as I have such a fab job,” says Jane. “If it rains, I stay in and draw, and when the sun shines, I go outside and dig and plant – it doesn’t feel like work!

“Surrey simply has it all – the light and skylarks at dawn, peaceful nooks and crannies, windswept hills, mossy glades, well-trodden paths, brooks and streams that wind their way through the landscape – around every corner there is a surprise and I will never cease to get enough of it.”

For Jane, the garden is an outdoor room, a continuation of space to live in and enjoy. She offers garden design as well as project management, a garden doctor service, garden rejuvenation, flower-art creations and garden advice.

“I guess I am slightly ‘non-conformist’ but only in the fact that I like to think outside the box,” she continues. “I try to see things from a slightly different perspective from the norm and believe that creativity, innovation and attention to detail should all be reflected in one’s work.

“As a garden designer, I believe I should be able to finely tune my services for each client and, having a strong artistic eye, the ability to push boundaries with shape, texture, form and colour gives me an advantage within my surroundings. I also have strong ecological values and am passionate about imparting my knowledge on to my clients and how imperative it is to respect our natural world.”

Top trends for 2015...

“I am not one to follow trends,” says Jane, “but to give you some words of wisdom, be bold and don’t be afraid to mix up colours – though don’t crowd or clutter, just punctuate… less is more. Also, don’t spray insecticides. Our gardens should have their own little eco-systems to survive, and spraying does so much harm and very little good. Be passionate about the environment and look after it.”

Get in touch:

Tel: 07796 998343

E-mail: jane@poisonivydesign.co.uk

Web: poisonivydesign.co.uk





Selina Botham

Designs for all Seasons


Raised in Surrey and now based in Claygate, Selina has a passion for gardens and the outdoors that stemmed from frequent visits to RHS Garden Wisley and the surrounding rolling hills and woodlands. After working for Coutts, the Queen’s bankers, organising IT projects, Selina took a complete sea change in her 40s, listened to her heart and retrained with a Diploma in Garden Design in 2006 at Merrist Wood.

She received pretty much immediate success, exhibiting several times at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, becoming part of something she had visited obsessively since its inception in 1990, winning Best in Show with her first show garden in 2008 and the RHS People’s Choice Award last year for her naturalistic Jordan’s Wildlife Garden.

“It was inspired by a miz maze (a maze made of grasses) and was designed to show that a wildlife garden didn’t have to be a mess of weeds,” explains Selina.

With a desire to design gardens that make a difference to both her clients and to wildlife, Selina’s work has a wonderful balance of strength and delicacy with a palette of year-round interest. Creating a sense of spaciousness is important to her as is including some intimate seating spaces, routes and destinations.

“I like to help people to get the best from their garden,” says Selina, “and I have found that the early stages of finding out about the client and also the site analysis are really key parts of the design process. I can then use my skill at creative problem solving and visualising space to design their garden and bring out its potential.

“I want people to be able to enjoy their own outdoor space and appreciate the beauty of the sights and sounds around them and the vastness of the sky. Being outside is good for the soul.”

Top trends for 2015...

“For 2015, I think we will continue to see imaginative use of natural materials and soft, natural planting,” says Selina. “People want to encourage and support wildlife so I think interesting use of wild flowers and meadows are set to continue. I really hope people will be able to relax more about their lawns and allow pretty wildflowers to colonise and create more eco-friendly spaces. I can see, also, that in our ever more hectic and screen-dominated lives, the importance of a green and restful space is going to be increasingly recognised as a vital health requirement.”

Get in touch:

Tel: 07894 553202

E-mail: selina@designsforallseasons.co.uk

Web: designsforallseasons.co.uk




Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas Garden Design


After 15 years working as a human resources manager in Leeds, London and then with the National Trust at Polesden Lacey, Helen turned her long-held interest for gardens into a career by completing a Diploma in Garden Design in 2009 from the Garden Design School at Painshill Park in Cobham.

“While studying, I was particularly inspired by the work of John Brookes,” says Helen, who is based in Westcott near Dorking. “I love his natural style and imaginative use of simple materials. I also admire the work of Arne Maynard who has a wonderful ability to create gardens that look like they belong, often with classic features, hedging and clean lines, but are also a bit different.

“If you asked people to describe my ‘garden style’, I think you might get some very different responses. I pride myself in designing a unique space for each individual client and each garden will work with the house, plot and client’s needs.”

Helen is happy to work with the client on revamping one particular area or on a complete design of the whole garden.

The process includes a brief introductory meeting followed by a more detailed walk around the garden, taking thorough notes, a survey and scale plan, to 3D isometric and construction drawings for the landscapers, a planting plan and the completion of the garden with a maintenance schedule.

“I feel very lucky to be both living and working in Surrey,” adds Helen. “The scenery provides a wonderful backdrop to many gardens – albeit the rolling hills, where many villages are nestled, opens up interesting challenges for the designer and in some situations a chance to delve into the history of the property and its architectural features. In addition, the proximity to London and pressures of limited space in more urban parts of the county allow for imaginative schemes to create different but equally beautiful gardens.”

Top trends for 2015...

“For 2015, I think there will continue to be an interest in simple planting styles and natural features,” says Helen. “Concerns about the impact of climate change, loss of habitats and the devastation of species through plant diseases and pests introduced from plants grown abroad will continue to fuel an interest in native species. I see a move away from the high-tech, big impact outdoor seating areas and see the garden developing more as a sanctuary rather than an ‘outdoor room’ of the house.”

Get in touch:

Tel: 07771 962221

E-mail: Helen@helenthomasdesign.co.uk

Web: helenthomasdesign.co.uk


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