Make the most of your garden in the summer months, says celebrated garden and landscape designer Randle Siddeley
Now that we can all gather in our gardens, I’ve noticed things becoming a little competitive out there. If you want to host a garden party to remember, it won’t suffice to produce some lanterns or a pretty parasol – it’s time to think about your garden’s wow factor. Over the years, my clients have asked me to create unique features intended to start a conversation, and here are one or two innovations guaranteed to add intriguing originality to any outside space.
Choose Innovative Seating
I was with Simon Burvill at Chelsea Design Centre when we spotted Nina Campbell’s beautiful upholstered three-seater love seat. We joked about it being the perfect set-up for a contemporary ménage à trois. Soon we were imagining a garden version – with a table in the middle for the champagne magnum of course – and the Gaze Burvill Meander 3 was born. It was extraordinarily difficult to master this chair’s balance, but the expertise of Gaze Burvill’s craftsmen prevailed to create its thick flared bends and clever demountable system.
The Meander caught the approving eye of RHS judges at the last Chelsea Flower Show, where it was shortlisted for the Product of the Year Award. It’s the perfect antidote to our hectic digital age, designed for non-confrontational but close conversations and convivial debate. Guests might never want to leave. £6,960, gazeburvill.com
Add Dramatic Talking Points
Originally, I placed five of these beautifully textured shards by Andrew Moor in a Hong Kong garden against the backdrop of Discovery Bay. Seeing how they became talking points and added instant theatre, I had designed one into a central London garden where it was equally as dramatic and elegant. The highest shard rises to about two metres and each one suggests a beautiful sea-cold flame or giant blade of translucent grass, thrusting up towards the sky and evoking immediate curiosity. andrewmoor.com
Focus On Water
We were commissioned to relandscape an entire six-acre garden in Wentworth and found an ill-construed water feature, comprising an unattractive stone lily pad. I collaborated with artist David Harber on designing a single Teardrop sculpture. The elegant curves are a wickerwork of stainless steel, painted dark blue inside with a skirt of water around it. In sunlight, the Teardrop’s reflective surface turns the pond a mystical deep blue and after dark lighting from within makes the Teardrop appear to shimmer, suspended above water. This is a formidable centrepiece transitioning effortlessly between night and day. davidharber.co.uk
My biggest dread is someone arriving at a picnic with a pile of soggy pizzas wilting in their cardboard boxes. I’m fussy and I like my pizza crisp. To ensure the perfect crust, I intend to use my Ooni Koda 16”, a portable gas-fired pizza oven that creates superb stone-baked pizza in seconds. I love seeing good design paired with functionality and this oven embodies both – it’s the ultimate in innovative culinary chic. £499, ooni.com
Think About Flowers
At this time of year my flower of the month has to be peonies. Much of their beauty lies in their luscious globular buds prior to bursting, but once they emerge like extravagant butterflies, nothing competes with their transient grace. Their very appeal lies in the fact that their blowsy heads are as fragile and short-lived as blossom, so admire them while they last. Plant them in groups of a dozen or more (they like sun or partial shade and rich soil), then leave them to die back. Avoid cutting them because their petal-cluster heads add sensual splendour to any herbaceous border alongside spikier salvias, feathery fennel foliage and sparkling Astrantia stars. I love the semi-double, creamily pure Immaculee, the big, fragrant Percher with a red thread outlining its soft pink petals and the robust, reliable, best-selling Sarah Bernhardt with its enormous heads of dark rose petals.
Invest in a garden talking piece, start partying among the peonies and have a wonderful al fresco summer.
See more garden ideas at randlesiddeley.co.uk