The 20 Finest Gardeners & Landscape Designers

By Tessa Dunthorne

12 months ago

These gardeners & landscape designers are perfectly in-season

Meet the 20 gardeners and landscapers designers transforming our green spaces for the better. By Tessa Dunthorne.

Meet The 20 Finest Gardeners & Landscape Designers

Anca Panait Studio

Trained architect and RHS medallist Anca enjoys the juxtaposition between hard detailing and softer planting. ‘The outdoor spaceshouldbeinviting,responsivetotheneeds of owners – while respecting and supporting nature,’ she says. Nor should a garden be instant, she says: there’s an increasing climate-conscious willingness to wait for plants to grow (versus be transported in full maturity from abroad) among her clients. Recent projects include a colourful podium garden focused on climate resilient species that can not only cope with increased variability in weather, but naturally foster local biodiversity. And then, on top of that, there’s her own allotment to care for.

Butter Wakefield

Butter, who grew up near Baltimore before coming to the UK to train at the English Gardening School and London College of Gardening Design, ended up beginning her career in decorative interiors. But it’s her work with exteriors that have seen her celebrated with a plethora of awards for purposeful design. Her team are currently working on a mix of town and country gardens, from Kent to Chelsea, and are constantly thinking of ways to advance sustainable innovation within its process (whether that’s through better urban drainage or careful research into materials).

Carey Garden Design

Carey Garden Design doesn’t fit into a box, stylistically. Instead, husband and wife duo Joe and Laura are better defined by their curiosity, seeking out the projects that excite them. This year, they showcased an industry-first at the Chelsea Flower Show: their innovative use of a new hot embossed thermo wood mimicked ‘shou shugi ban’ – with much less carbon consumption. Always on the prowl for the types of innovation that retain aesthetic integrity, current projects include a charming cottage garden in Cley and a small, contemporary industrial garden in Hertfordshire.

Chris Beardshaw

Chris Beardshaw gardens

You might recognise Chris from television – or from his impressive call sheet of gardens (most have their own Wikipedia pages). Chris and his team always try to develop a design narrative that balances the needs of clients with site opportunities; the designer is currently putting fresh life into the manicured greens of Trinity College Oxford, where the new gardens will speak to a horticultural history while sitting alongside the most contemporary campus buildings.

Cleve West

Cleve’s Chelsea Flower Show garden this year was a study on youth homelessness. Setting a garden in the rubble of a demolished Victorian house, the designer worked with Centrepoint to use his platform for purpose. The studio has been operating since 1990, and Cleve’s work can be characterised by clashes: whether that’s structure with sensuality or the classic with the contemporary. The gardener is also author of The Garden of Vegan, his call for us to form fairer food systems.

Emily Erlam Studio

For Emily, the trick to a well-designed garden is sensitivity: pay homage to the landscape and respect the integrity of the architectural surrounds, and the rest will follow. Her small Clerkenwell practice began in 2008, after a prior career in television (a visual medium that still informs her aesthetic principles). Her portfolio spans the country, and she’s no stranger to creating anything from huge estates and barn yards to impressive courtyard gardens and roof terraces in Soho.

Freddie Strickland Gardens

Freddie Strickland Gardens

From tiny green nooks in town to sprawling country estates, Freddie Strickland says no two gardens he completes are the same, presenting unique challenges and advantages. But both, he says, provide equal opportunity to be transformed into havens designed for dining, relaxation and entertainment. Current projects include a garden extension set to feature a curvaceous sunken artist’s studio and adapted with accessibility in mind. Freddie also works as the lead designer of landscape architecture firm Balston Agius.

Harris Bugg Studio

This studio – a team of twelve led by Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg – recently won Best in Show at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show for its collaboration with spinal injuries charity Horatio’s Garden. The practice was formed in 2017 and called ‘pioneering design talents of their generation’ by the Royal Horticultural Society. Its signature style, says Charlotte, is that they create bespoke gardens that abandon conventional design styles in favour of telling the unique story of the place. The result? Thoughtful and resonant outdoor sanctuaries, all injected with a sparkle of joy and individuality.

Jilayne Rickards

A recent garden at the Chelsea Flower Show for conservation charity Fauna & Flora transported an incredible Afromontane landscape to West London. Highlighting how ecotourism can protect the natural environments of endangered and threatened species, this particular flavour of symbiosis between human beings and the wild sits at the heart of much of Jilayne’s work. Sourcing locally, seasonal planting and a use of reclaimed materials are parts of her core working practises when creating her characteristically atmospheric garden spaces.

Jinny Blom

From shaping the gardens of A-listers to complete freedom in Lady Getty’s garden, Jinny Blom’s past projects are impressive and her client list star-studded. The multidisciplinary team is known for its studious approach; considering the history and sometimes folklore of the land when drawing up their plans. Jinny’s coffee table book, The Thoughtful Gardener, is a vast compendium of the thinking behind her career’s 250-plus garden projects.

Juliet Sargeant Gardens & Landscapes

Juliet Sargeant Garden Design

Juliet pivoted from medicine to landscaping almost 30 years ago, and perhaps it is this that informs her approach to gardening – she certainly believes that healthy living involves access to beautiful natural surroundings. ‘I like to believe I don’t have a style,’ she says, ‘I simply want my clients to connect with nature in a way that is most comfortable for them. By doing so, I make gardens that feel as good as they look.’

Marian Boswall

Marian doesn’t do sustainable gardening – the author and designer actually goes that one step further into regenerative gardening. She’s happy her clients and contractors embrace the same ethos as her, and her no skip policy means all hard landscaping waste is carefully considered for reuse. Right now, she’s working on large-scale regenerative projects, including the grounds of the Birling Estate, plus the Charleston Farmhouse, the grounds of which were once wondered by inhabitants Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.

Randle Siddeley

Randle Siddeley is an eminent name in landscaping today, having formed his design studio over four decades ago. A close eye for detail and an imaginative approach to the legacy of any given landscape form the key underpinnings for his distinctive composed and elegant design style. A recent project saw 27 acres adapted to meet the needs of three generations of a family, and the introduction of a clay log wall for beekeeping.

Rich Landscapes

Brothers Harry and David both trained in landscape architecture at university, and have been called the ‘cool guys’ of gardening after their television stint on BBC’s Garden Rescue. Whether it’s the balance between formality and informality, they’re experts at treading the line between a space that fosters a sense of naturalism while also being informed by the same practicalities that will keep their gardens alive and well in the colder months.

Richard Miers

What makes a good garden? According to Richard, it’s about putting a stamp on a space. ‘Just like clothes say a lot about who we are, I think the same can be said of our gardens and what we choose to put in them,’ the designer says. His studio favours timelessly elegant designs through carefully softening structure and formality with herbaceous planting. He also takes time to educate clients about sustainable horticultural practice as a core part of his design process.

Sophie Walker Studio

Sophie Walker garden design

At Chelsea in 2014, Sophie Walker was the youngest woman to ever design a garden. She’s currently working on projects that push the bounds of what a garden can be. An English parkland, on one hand, that is being put to experimental use, allowing livestock to graze in a way that regenerates the land; on the other hand, a London town house that seeks to create a functional kitchen garden interspersed with ornamental flowers.

Sparrow Garden Design

Sparrow Morgan-Grenville left the finance world 11 years ago in order to pursue her love of garden design. Her work is contemporary and English, but reflects a career and education that took place in a global setting, and so her gardens often contain notes of Asia and the Mediterranean. Recent projects are in Hampshire and the Cotswolds and are vast garden redesigns; a scrubby mess shaded under ancient trees will become a sea of wildflowers, perennials and grasses, and home to plenty of biodiverse species.

Grow To Know

The founder of Grow To Know, Tayshan Hayden-Smith, turned his hand to gardening after Grenfell. ‘People were lost at Grenfell as they were deemed unworthy of beautiful, healing and safe spaces,’ says Tayshan, ‘it is my mission to ensure everyone has access to such spaces.’ Grow To Know sprung up from acts of guerilla gardening and aims to confront environmental and societal issues. This year, it created Chelsea’s smallest garden to highlight the green spaces access gap. @manliketaysh 

Tom Massey Studio

Despite only hitting the scene in 2015, Tom Massey is no stranger to rocking the boat. At this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, the studio brought a working insect laboratory in for the Royal Entomological Society Garden. The award-winning studio strives to work with nature to produce sustainable, ecological and beautiful gardens that foster biodiversity – and Tom’s book RHS Resilient Garden: Sustainable Gardening for a Changing Climate speaks to the expertise of those at the helm of the studio. A garden of his recently rocked festival audiences at this year’s Glastonbury Festival.

Ula Maria Garden Design

If asked to describe her signature style, London-based Ula would say that she creates character through her gardens. ‘It’s all about a play between architectural forms and naturalistic planting, to create spaces rich in character that don’t feel pastiche,’ she says, ‘places infused with ideas of formative landscapes, memories and senses.’ She is currently working on ten private gardens across the capital – in which, she says, she is increasingly finding exciting ways to incorporate reclaimed materials and build up wildlife.