Creating outdoor spaces with edge - by royal appointment
15th March 2019
SO magazine’s gardening guru Victoria Truman recently undertook a series of commissions to transform some of the gardens at the new Royal Wells housing development at the heart of Tunbridge Wells. Here’s a little bit about her and the impressive results of her recent projects
I designed and built a garden for a client who had just a Royal Wells property in Tunbridge Wells in June 2016, and from that one being built other people contacted me. To date I have built six gardens on the estate.
I like to use small trees within all these gardens as horticulturally on new build plots it’s good to involve trees, permeable paving, shrubs, climbers, plants for insects and bees. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are very keen on greening up gardens in cities and towns.
In terms of inspiration I take it from my clients and their likes and dislikes and endeavour to exceed their expectations and give them a garden that delights them.
I have had two show gardens built and won a silver medal for my first show in 2013 and a Gold medal and Best Garden in my category at Hampton Court in 2016.
I went back to college in 2011 to The English Gardening School graduating in 2012. I created my first show garden the following year and my business has grown year on year from there. Entering and winning an industry award for The Moroccan Garden design featured on these pages was another exciting day. I love designing, I’m inspired by the simplest pattern or a shape of tree I see on my travels which gets stored in my head for the right time.
I’m keen on keeping up to date with everything in the world of horticulture and attend regular lectures and study days at places such as Great Dixter with Fergus Garrett in order to broaden my planting knowledge. And as for future gardening goals I’d love to do a Chelsea show Garden in the future…
The clients have lived in Oman and travelled to Morrocco on more than one occasion and wanted
a garden that embodied the feel of Marrakesh. The Moorish garden is intended to provide calm,
shade, perfume, beauty and pleasure.
I have been fortunate enough to visit Morocco on several occasions and stay in a riad which actually means ‘garden’ but is used to describe a townhouse built round a central courtyard garden. It’s an oasis of calm where you can get away from the hustle of city life. With that in mind I designed the garden to reflect this feeling with specific areas to divide up the space, making it more intriguing.
The plot is small so I included stopping places, incorporating a dining area, a bistro table with chairs and a bench hidden out of sight, this allows the clients to see the garden from different angles and provide multiple viewpoints, which also help to visually enlarge the space. Plants were repeated, lending visual unity to the small garden. Raised, rendered and painted borders increase the visual interest and add to the perception that the space is larger than it really is. The bi-fold doors mean the garden is only a few steps away, the outdoor space is framed by a row of pleached trees and jasmine, shutting out the boundaries and neighbours by focusing on the lush greenery.
KEY PROJECT AIMS:
- Transforming the client’s shed into a Moroccan inspired retreat
- Raised borders rendered and painted in brick red to accentuate the Moroccan feel of the
Garden. The red used is a compliment to the teal blue paint used on the cabin
- The planting adds height, fullness and masses of summer colour
- Large specimen olive tree with a gnarled trunk is the backdrop to the vibrant paint colours
- The sound of the fountain adds tranquillity to the space
- Lighting enhances the garden through the evening
This garden won the Prolandscaper Design and Build Award Small Project BIG IMPACT November 2018
Max out the minimalism:
This garden was designed for a gentleman who wanted to feel private and enclosed without
feeling the garden was too small. He also wanted an extension of his living space to provide a focus from the house.
This particular creations provides a seamless transition from house to garden while the placement of the pleached trees provide an inner courtyard within a larger space. I planted four borders which 'hold' the inner courtyard in place and filled them with clipped topiary ilex crenata, four taxus baccata domes in each corner to add another dimension to the planting. Hakonechloa macra was planted on the edges to add a limey green colour and softness to the planting scheme. The borders have been edged in charred oak. The pleached Prunus lusitanica 'Myrtifolia' has been decided on for this design, not only for the elegant form it brings to the garden, but also for its hawthorn-scented white flowers in June. The colour scheme of the garden is green, white, grey and black. A strictly limited palette of plants were used to achieve this:
- Charred oak is a theme that runs through the design, with steps leading up to the upper terrace
and raised planters made from it. The planters are filled with white agapanthus ‘Artic Star’,
jasmine and hakonechloa macra.
- The entrance to the garden has a shed from The Posh Shed Company and a long border with
two large acers, underplanted with Pennisetum alopecuroides’Hameln' a charming perennial
grass that forms a compact, low mound and produces long-lasting, soft, pinkish, brush-like flowers in late summer.
- The acers have lime green leaves in the spring turning to crimson by
autumn adding a final splash of colour as winter beckons.
Take a trip to the Mediterranean:
The clients for this project wanted increased privacy as well as wow factor and were keen to use a pale, cool colour palette and high-spec finishes with rich, lush planting for all-year-round interest.
So the sliding patio doors open from the kitchen/ diner onto the garden which makes this area an extension of the house with an extra dining area and a lounge area to the rear of the garden.
Raised, rendered, painted white beds with slightly different heights add a rhythm and height to
the garden, which is reminiscent of Mediterranean gardens. The fence was clad in horizontal timber and painted in a toning blue to the kitchen helps tie in the garden and living space to make the transition seamless from one area to the other.
Fragrant planting of lavender, rosemary and climbing jasmine fills the garden with scent in
the summer months, making the clients feel like they are holidaying. The planting is low key and
rhythmic with a rich green, cream and blue/purple palette. Large specimen olive trees take centre stage. These are rugged, more natural specimens with a sculptural trunk close to the terrace and a cloud form almost representing a living sculpture centre to the garden, which can be viewed from all sides as a piece of living art.
The terrace is paved with encaustic, porcelain tiles, random patterned tiles with tones of grey,
Blue and white to give a wow factor to the dining area with a contemporary and Mediterranean vibe. Artificial lawn has been used as the clients did not want any mowing. A row of pleached trees screen and aid overall privacy.
Cool and contemporary:
The clients are based in overseas in Asia and wanted a low maintenance entertaining space to
include dining and lounging areas with a fire table. As urban gardens tend to be on constant view,
I pay a great deal of attention to detail, using good quality materials and finishes. Garden lighting
is a key feature. Here are some of the key details I used to ensure satisfactory success:
- Evergreen topiary with cloud trees were used as a nod to the clients’ connection with Asia
- Cedar timber was used to clad the original fencing while a bespoke cedar wood pergola was built
to cover the dining area to allow for privacy whilst dining
- Climbing jasmine was planted on each leg of the pergola so in time that will become a
jasmine scented, covered area, filled with scent in the summer months
- Lighting has been installed to extend the enjoyment of the garden into the evenings
- The lounge area sits behind a privacy screen on the other side of the pergola, a large
comfortable L-shaped sofa and a fire table complete this area
- Raised planters clad in the paving brings unity, simplicity and elegance to the garden
- Autumn flowering camellia sasanqua topiary standard trees planted along the rear fence aid
privacy and a splash of winter colour, autumn-flowering camellias provide cheer in the dull days of
autumn and early winter, with their small neat leaves, bright coloured flowers and unusual scent.
To find out more about Victoria Truman’s gardening projects and helpful horticultural tips visit www.victoriatruman.com