The designers at Robin Williams & Associates know gardens. After all, they’ve designed over 1000 of them in the past 32 years. They’ve brought together a number of these plots into a themed Design Showcase for F&F readers.
A demanding lifestyle can be balanced through simple pleasures. Our garden designs relax, calm and re-energise through natural beauty, sumptuous planting and well thought through spaces in which to lounge, stroll, dine or just potter.
Our relaxing gardens make use of natural materials, such as chunky green oak for pergolas and gazebos, and stone to suit the local environment – such as locally quarried Cotswold stone in Gloucestershire, red brick and flint shingle in West Sussex or chalk and flint in Wiltshire. Not only do locally sourced materials look like they ’fit’, using them supports the local economy, and dramatically cuts down on travel miles making them a greener choice.
The planting used in a relaxing garden is designed to excite all the senses. Plants encouraging you to touch them are included – such as Stachys (velvety rabbit ears) and the fluffy seeds heads of Clematis alpina. Scented flowers and foliage are included for every season such as Hamamellis and Lonicera fragrantisimma in mid Winter, hyacinths in Spring, roses and lavender during the Summer and Buddleja in the Autumn.
The sound and sight of water is very relaxing, and water can be used in many ways – a large volume of falling water to mask the unwanted noise from a road or a still pool to reflect the sky and trees.
More and more the taste of our gardens is important and we are experts in kitchen gardens, having designed the ornamental kitchen garden for the Bell at Skenfrith, Michelin pub of the year 2007, and almost all our clients now want some form of edible planting. Raised beds for vegetables, sunny walls for espaliered fruit trees or figs, a spot near the kitchen for herbs, and edible flowers such as Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ – whose flowers taste like sweets and make a great addition to salads.
And last but not least the look of our gardens has a relaxing effect even from inside the house. We create the mood with soft and floaty planting such as the grass Stipa gigantea whose oat-like flower heads dance in the slightest breeze, Gaura whose butterfly like flowers festoon arching stems and the diaphanous Verbena bonnariensis creating a tall purple haze from Summer right through to the Autumn. These soft plants are set against a backbone of evergreen and structural planting, to give the garden a solid foundation and ensuring that whatever the season the garden looks the part.
A garden inspired by the house and setting creates a sense of harmony and is a source of great pleasure. Both house and garden are a reflection of your taste and sense of style and our garden designers pride themselves in tuning into your aesthetic desires as well as the functional requirements, creating a garden you will fall in love with.
The materials used in inspiring gardens vary widely, but are all in keeping with the house and environment. Red brick, flint shingle and Erigeron karvinskianus work well together because they share the same colour palette, and the daisy head and shingle size are the same – fastidious attention to detail as well as a view of the big picture reaps rewards.
The use of repetition creates rhythm in a garden – here Buxus balls in lead planters catch the eye and draw you towards a formal wall mounted water feature. The principle of repetition works just as well informally with repeated plants acting to tie a scheme together aesthetically. Deep purple bearded irises planted en masse with purple salvia create a striking and sumptuous display when repeated along a pergola’s path.
Inspiration can come from the simplest ideas, a contemporary single species planting of Festuca glauca, an evergreen grass with grey green leaves, is set against soft coloured rendered walls and an almost driftwood coloured wood deck.
Your precious leisure time is a serious business.
An entertaining garden means different things to different people, and we have designed many types of entertaining garden, from lawns for football and swing ball to swimming pools and pavilions. There are always places for dining with family and friends, areas to play and potter, such as lawns and paths, kitchen gardens and glass houses, naturalistic ponds to encourage wildlife, wildflower meadows to wander through or a swing in a tree.
The materials used have to be beautiful and functional too, based on the use of the space, so surfaces are paved for chairs and tables, tarmaced for wheels, turfed with a hard wearing grass mix for sport or gravelled for walking.
The planting around areas for sport needs to be resilient and bounce back – no Delphinuims here! Useful plants such as Lonicera pileata – an evergreen shrubby honeysuckle with fragrant white blossom and tough ‘box-like’ leaves is used frequently. Scented plants around dining and seating areas add another dimension to the atmosphere and nothing can beat the heady scent of Philadelphus wafting through the borders or the sweetly scented pale pink flowers of Jasminum x stephanense on a still, warm Summer’s evening in June.