A Small Minimalist Garden - Part Three

The nature of the style of design, it’s simplicity and lack of planting coupled with drainage issues related to floor levels and type of flagstones needed to match with the interior meant that layout and construction methods had to considered meticulously. When I plan a layout I generally specify features such as terraces to be multiples of the unit size of the paving , this makes their construction easier and has a better aesthetic. On this project the sandstone flags were for interior and external use and were only 18mm thick, this meant that no cuts could be used as the flagstone and little ‘self weight’ and would break away if used. This level of accuracy is fine on the computer but on site it meant that the setting out had to be extremely accurate. As the rill and drainage had to be installed prior to the surface these had to be set out at exact paving intervals. Drainage on this large terrace had to be concealed. Usually a channel drain with a galvanised steel grid is used but as this garden was so minimalist, this would have stood out as the main feature. My solution was to lay the channel so it was below a joint in the paving and then leave this joint unfilled. This created an invisible drainage channel. Even though the paving fell away from the house thresholds, as the paving was at floor level a similar drainage solution was used to safe guard the interior. Where abutting masonry, to prevent breach of damp proof the paving was finished 150mm from the base of the building and a grey granite gravel splash trap installed.​

A Small Minimalist Garden - Part Two​

As the paving and walling were completed then design details such as the lighting, aluminium raised beds water spouts and bespoke fencing could be installed. Aluminium bottomless raised beds were manufactured by Win-born Products and secured in the planting areas. These were then filled and planted with three Amelanchier lamarkii. A slate mulch and a stainless steel uplighter completed each bed. During the first phase of the build armoured cable and ducting for the lighting and water pumps was installed, equivalent to a ‘first fix’ on a house build. These feeds were connected to remote controlled switching unit and low voltage feeds taken to each light. The system was then connected to the house supply and checked and certified under Part P of Building Regulations. A cedar batten fence was constructed on site to face the existing fence and all rendered walls painted in shades of grey. Finally the garden was planted, the water commissioned and after five consecutive weeks on the site the garden was completed. The completed photographs here and in the portfolio section belie the amount of skilled landscaping that went into the successful implementation of this scheme.​

A Small Minimalist Garden - Part One​

In 2010, I completed a minimalist garden design in Harston, Cambridge. This garden is featured in the portfolio section of my website and was featured in the Garden Design Journal magazine, much to the excitement of the owners! The simplicity and austerity of this small garden, shown in the completed images belies the difficulty of the design and build of this garden. The clients were very organised and had compiled a file of images and style of garden they admired, so I knew that the design would be simple and minimalist. After struggling to survey around building materials, trenches and machinery and hampered by the obligatory rain shower, I set to work on the design. The resulting design was simple in its conception, a large terrace at interior floor level and of similar material, spilled out seamlessly through the sliding glass doors. This was separated from a line of three Amelanchier trees by a one metre wide rill running almost the width of the garden. The rill was positioned for internal division and to cast reflection onto the interior ceiling. The austerity of the scheme was enhanced by the use of shades of grey on paving, rendered boundary wall and raised beds. Similarly, the planting palette used only a shubby honeysuckle, to be clipped into cloud forms, yew hedge and a small prostrate silver Hebe pinguifolia . From the moment the garden was approved by the clients, I knew this would be a special garden. It now, just needed to be built.​

Garden Designer in Cambridge​

This summer has highlighted the diverse work of a garden designer in Cambridge. The geographic location, nature of a country city and relative proximity to London, mean that potential projects range from tiny central city courtyards, new build medium gardens, roof terraces on the apartment blocks springing up in every brownfield site and occasional large country estates. This summer has reflected exactly that. Within the space of a few months I have worked on all of the above! Completing a tiny terraced house garden in Newnham, Cambridge, we moved to a new build in Cambourne building contemporary front and rear gardens. After dealing with numerous planning restrictions and issues (another skill required by a garden designer!) we completed this project moving to Canary Wharf to build a roof terrace for a penthouse overlooking the O2. Then back to Cambridge to complete the last phase of large country house garden in Bury St Edmunds. And the cycle continues.... I am now designing a family garden for a village new build, a long terraced garden in central Cambridge....and so on! But what type of project do I prefer? The honest answer is, I enjoy working on all of them. This may seem like a pitch to secure work! But all projects large and small, cutting edge or traditional, have the same design challenges and the same satisfactions. Whatever the project, taking something that’s out-dated, non existent or simply not very good and making it fabulous remains the main reason I enjoy working as a garden designer.​


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Paul is an experienced and widley respected garden designer based in Cambridge.


He has an extensive portfolio of gardens in a wide range styles and locations. Paul is a full member of The Society of Garden Designers.​


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