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Inspirational Gardens in London, England and around the world

As a garden designer based in London I am always visiting gardens for inspiration. I hope that this blog helps to share my enthusiasm for these fantastic spaces – perhaps even giving you ideas for layouts and planting in your own garden or landscape.

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens – Hampshire

Sir Harrold Hillier (of Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centre fame) began developing these gardens back in 1953. As with many great gardens they mature and improve with age. His specimen tree planting has left us with some magnificent and unusual specimens to enjoy today. 

The garden is famous for its seasonal interest. As we are now into December, I headed straight for the Winter Gardens. I have found that many of the winter gardens around the country have similar plants and planting combinations but this was one of the best I have visited. The plants had been used in a very clever way; contrasting to accentuate a specimen or working in harmony to reveal a picturesque scene. 

Ivy is a often overlooked as an invasive weed or worrying wall invader but here it was used in an interesting and manageable way. I will be borrowing this idea for one of my own design projects!

The often brown and muddy garden of winter can be brightened up with splashes of colour. Here are a few of the plants that I thought looked particularly lovely in these gardens in December.



Callicarpa bodinieri



Acer griseum / Paper Bark Maple



Betula albosinensis / Chinese Red Birch



Photinia davidiana / Chinese photinia



Cornus sanguinea / Bloody dogwood




Sarcococca confusa / Sweet box

You will smell this plant before you see it, a heavy sweet smell fills the air.



Euonymus hamiltonianus / Spindle Tree

When plants and trees stand bare during winter, the structure and layout of the garden becomes visible and important. The long border may have lost its showy flowers but the layout and hedges are impressive in their own right. 

Sculpture and punctuation create focal points and allow the eye to move from point to point around the space. These have been cleverly achieved in this garden with a mix of man made artworks, specimen trees and a mixture of the two. 

Another tip that I picked up in this garden and will be sure to use in my own landscape creations was the pyramid Box hedging. The problem with normal hedging is that one side and the bottom of the hedge become shaded and produce less leaves. I loved this simple idea that will allow more light to the hedge sides and create a greener, thicker, healthier hedge. 

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