Our design process is a little different to most.
The traditional way of design is to make all the decisions at the outset, right down to the smallest plant. This completed landscape drawing is then used as the blueprint for the implementation of the garden. Almost every client I’ve worked with that has gone through this process has not been happy with the end result. This ends up tying people to an early, uncertain and costly vision of a garden that can’t adapt to the many desired changes that only become clear as the garden evolves.
Inspired by ecological designer Dan Palmer’s ‘Living Design Process’, we now work in a different way that brings the designing and the implementing of the garden together. Rather than try and make all the decisions right at the outset of the project, many of the decisions are spread out through the implementation process in a constantly adaptive way. It now looks a little more like this:
Early understandings. It all begins with a long conversation about what you are hoping to achieve - practically, aesthetically, financially, functionally.
Site analysis. A thorough understanding of place - its sun, shade, soils, slopes, seasonal winds, needs for privacy, views of surroundings and opportunities for holding water.
Initial layout. An early and substantial proposal for the layout of the garden, including key landscaped areas. These may include paved communal areas, raised garden beds, rock walls and shelters. We start our first on-the-ground works at this point.
Design & Implementation cycle. With each implemented mini-project, such as the installation of a paved seated area or a raised veggie bed, we stand back together and have a look at the transformed garden. The next decision always becomes clearer at this point. From here, each project leads to another design decision which leads to another action. The garden comes to fruition in a step-by-step process with regular and thoughtful collaboration.
The number of hours spent designing are similar to a traditional approach - the difference is that only around 50% of hours are used at the beginning, and the remaining 50% are used throughout the implementation of the project.
“Rather than presenting us with a completed design, we found a collaborative approach where Ben’s ideas and ours could develop organically worked extremely well. In this way we were able to develop the garden in response to what emerged…”, David & Vilaisan, Watson.
Ecological design takes its inspiration from the self-organisation of natural systems, like forests. Relationships are key here: that of the garden to its wider ecosystem, and the many layers of living relationships within the garden itself, from soil microbes all the way to tree tops.
THERAPEUTIC GARDEN DESIGN
Therapeutic garden design uses evidence-based design principles to shape gardens that have a restorative effect on our minds and hearts. I believe gardens have an important role to play in replenishing our contentment and joy in amongst our day-to-day lives.