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a large garden with overhanging trees

Reinvigorating an old garden

Sometimes prospective clients think that getting their garden designed by a professional will always involve stripping back what they have and starting afresh. This is not always the case though – and very often a more nuanced approach must be taken with a mature garden.


It is our belief that simply restoring a garden to how it looked at a point in the past is rarely appropriate. Gardens evolve over time by their very nature – both as plants grow, shade out others, and slowly senesce in their old age – and also within the historical timescale of garden fashions (the great gardens of Britain have always responded to the zeitgeist of the time – for example when renaissance symmetry gave way to the sweeping lawns of the landscape movement of the eighteenth century; or when Victorian formality moved towards either naturalism or cottage gardens; or even the modernist approaches of more recent times).


Therefore when looking at a well structured but venerable garden it is appropriate to conserve the best of what is already there (the stamp of its past owners) and to add a new layer of detail within a specifc area, or across the space, to instill a new personality; albeit one that respects a coherence of design intent throughout the entire garden.


This requires a slightly different skill-set from a designer only used to paring back to a blank canvas. It requires sensitivity and an eye for small details (such as local distinctiveness or past creative successes) that can be blended with new features to give a garden a new lease of life. It requires plant knowledge and horticultural skill to assess what should be kept, and what should not (removing or pruning over-grown shrubs, or removing trees that now block the vistas they once framed, or retaining ground covering, and weed suppressing, Geraniums in the short-term). In addition it lends itself to incremental change across much of the space, but with direct intervention in areas that are being re-designed anew, meaning that gardens may evolve over time rather than all in a single three week window.


The process to reinvigorate an old garden is very similar to that for a complete re-design, but requires more time to be spent analysing what is already there and assessing what should be retained, re-used, or removed. The designer is also taking on the mantle of a head gardener, guiding and advising to allow a garden to achieve its full potential. It can be a less expensive route to take, although never simply a cheap option as the quality of finish for the interventions in the garden need to match or exceed those that are already there.


So if you have a garden that feels stuck in the past, whether heavily influenced by outdated garden fashions or simply somewhere that has been left untended and has outgrown itself, please get in touch to discuss how we can work with you to change your garden for the better.