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How to Design a Captivating Garden

Cultivating an outdoor oasis is a much-coveted privilege that we’ve developed a particular appreciation for in these past several months of on-again, off-again lockdowns. Getting back to nature has been a source of solace and connection for many of us. If you, too, are hoping to preserve a place for nature in your life, we’ve got a few tips to get you started on carving out your own al fresco hideaway…

 

Soft Natural Garden Design

The Vlinderhof Garden in Utrecht, created by Piet Oudolf; still from Thomas Piper’s film, ‘Five Seasons’, photographed by Melinda Young Stuart

Take a moment to envisage the overall effect you’d like your garden to have. If it’s a wild symphony of soft, organic hues, look no further than the designs of Piet Oudolf for inspiration. This Dutch garden designer is known as the father of the “new perennial” approach, whereby naturally occurring plants are allowed to grow in a sort of guided chaos. Oudolf characterises it as a kind of “planting that you can’t control, only conduct”. His gardens for the Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Somerset and New York’s High Line speak to this soft touch mentality of cultivation.

 

Sculptural Garden Design

The garden of Charlotte and Donald Molesworth in Kent; photographed by Annabel Colterjohn

If your ideal garden takes on a more closely tended, sculptural character, the whimsical creations of Charlotte Molesworth may be more your speed. This British topiary artist takes an endlessly creative approach in mastering her kingdom. Hedges are great and all, but why settle when you could have a gargantuan peacock instead?

 

Garden Tables

Tom’s Lily Garden Tables in ‘Forest’, ‘Pistachio’, and ‘Grass’ with a Michael Ruh Drinking Glass

Once you’ve got a handle on the overall feel of the garden, it’s time to turn your attention to how you’d like to live in it. Garden tables are a great way to carve out liveable outdoor spaces to settle into. Tom’s Lily Garden Tables are ideal additions that don’t detract from the soft, organic feel of the environment. They are especially intriguing by the water, if you’re lucky enough to have a small pond to play against their lily pad-inspired shapes.

 

Casual Seating

Tom’s Exe Bench in Charcoal with an Oak top + Tom’s Lily Garden Tables in ‘Pistachio’ and ‘Grass’

Whether you’re taking in the tranquillity on your own or entertaining en masse, it’s important to have a place to perch. Benches are a natural choice, with a less formal feel than chairs. Tom’s Exe Bench brings a sense of juxtaposition to softer surroundings, introducing a more structured, modern accent. The wooden top is right at home in the garden, while its architectural charcoal black legs make a sleek statement.

 

Al Fresco Tables

Ava Dining Table (background) + Papillon Side Table (foreground)

There are few things better than a drawn-out al fresco lunch. Make space for many languid afternoons at an outdoor dining table like Tom’s Ava Dining Table. If you prefer a casual garden party, pepper a few more compact pieces throughout. Tom’s Papillon Side Table is perfectly in-tune with natural surroundings, its sinuous linear form taking root in the ground, while maintaining a lovely airiness.

 

The Edible Garden

Salad Greens from/in Charlotte and Donald Molesworth’s Garden in Kent; photographed by Annabel Colterjohn

If you’ve got some space (and a green thumb), it can be incredibly rewarding to plant a kitchen garden. Salads are transformed into objects of great excitement with a few freshly picked greens. And if you’ve got the patience for heartier fare like root vegetables or tomatoes, it’s worth considering a small firepit to try your hand at cooking en plein air.

Firepit in Charlotte and Donald Molesworth’s Garden in Kent; photographed by Annabel Colterjohn

 

Artistic Features

Tom’s Arizona Totems

If we’ve not quite conjured your dream garden yet, a bit of art may be the final missing piece. Create a greater sense of rhythm and structure to the space by introducing some sculptural focal points. Tom’s strikingly geometric Arizona Totems offer a bit of contrast against rambling ranges of greenery. It’s the perfect way to tie together different schemes within the garden and top it all off with a personal statement.

 

 

Text by Annabel Colterjohn

 

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