Cottage Garden Bed

Client Brief: A cottage garden bed in pinks and blues, purples and whites. Climbers for the wall. The plants are all on order. I won't be planting this one, which is strange for me but I'm looking forward to seeing its development.

Freshly planted, spring 2018

Mediterranean Bed

Client Brief: A Mediterranean bed with one existing tree in a hot sunny location with fertile free draining soil. I've been thinking in blues, whites and yellows for this bed, with a touch of pink here and there. Variation in foliage shapes and colour is important here and structure in the form of flower bearing shrubs. The plants haven't been long in the ground and still have a lot of growing to do but I think it's going to be beautiful 

After planting: spring 2018

Summer 2018

Beth Chatto Gardens - Willow Room Garden


I have been working in partnership with Wendy Smith, The Plantsmith, designing a new garden for the Willow Room at the Beth Chatto Gardens.

Wendy and I are both long term volunteers at the gardens and were invited to take the lead on this new project which will give volunteers the opportunity to be responsible for the maintenance of an area of the gardens and experiment with adding new plants to the 'plant communities' Wendy and I have already specified. 


Planting has started, our new lawn has been laid and we are looking forward to seeing the scheme knitting together as time goes by. A really fun, exciting project.


The upturned crates in the photo are standing in as space savers for the beautiful curved benches that will overlook the water and the planting. Cut from the heartwood of an oak from the gardens, to add to that natural woodland feel.



Early summer 2018

April 2018 -

Spring has arrived in Colchester! This is a shot of my garden - specifically, my super skinny, super narrow north-facing border, backed by an ivy-clad starting-to-fall-apart breeze block wall (belonging to our neighbours) For those with ugly walls, climbers cover a multitude of sins.


When we moved in there was nothing in this bed but Vinca major and old plant labels. But with research and experimentation I’ve been gradually filling it with beautiful things - Spring being the main season. There are gorgeous plants for even the darkest, smallest, of spots 



Winter 2018 - Layout Design

- My client has a large area of lawn which she had become bored with. She wanted more space for planting, a tree to shade the seating area near the house and space for wildlife. She is hoping to have an outside office in the future at the bottom of the garden, so I have considered pathways for accessing that space in winter and planting areas that will both soften the look of the future building and be enjoyed from the office and adjoining paved seating area. 


It’s important to get the use, layout and flow of a space right before getting too absorbed by planting details. That is to come.

Winter 2018 - Beth Chatto Willow Room Garden planting design - Considering ways to soften the approach to a new building with planting, taking into account the borrowed view. I love drawing in ink - a great way to show different planting layers (trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, ground covers, bulbs) varied foliage textures and shapes.


This is a project I’m working on with Wendy Smith. It’s great fun working with another designer.

Autumn 2017 - Cottage style planting with winter interest- The brief: a summer flowering cottage style border in pinks and purples with winter interest. The site: jam packed with lots of lovely plants but lacking coherence. Fantastic soil, enriched by years of homemade composting. I was asked to be firm and remove anything that wasn’t working.

From Design

To execution 

Spring 2018

Before: The new tree provides a focal point within the garden, drawing the eye away from the houses beyond. A pared down colour scheme and a greater variation in plant height, structure and leaf shape adds interest, but allows individual plants to be enjoyed

Small bog garden border and wildlife pond - Summer 2017

Client brief: a pond, a bog garden, red grasses, red flowers, wildlife.  The site: a 50cm width raised bed, quite windy.   Outcome: I'm pleased with how the grasses move in the wind and can't wait for the bog plants to get growing. The garden looks effective in the evening with the pre-existing up-lighting, and as the plants grow the foliage will cast really interesting shadows on the wall behind. My client has plans for some art to be mounted on the wall as an additional focal point and in the spring a compact red flowered honeysuckle will be planted to add vertical interest and fragrance. 

Autumn planting 2017

Summer 2018

Planting Designs Summer 2017

Planting Plans - Spring 2017

Garden Renovation - First Stage: Weeding, pruning and rescuing existing plants


Weeds and indistinct boundaries




Less than a month after some careful weeding, pruning and edging, the lovely plants hidden in the garden were revealed.




Autumn Planting

Order is restored. The weeds have been removed (for now!) and new plants are in place, settling in over the winter, ready for spring

Planting Design Propsal (this project wasn’t realised)

Hertfordshire Garden - replanting  October 2016


The Leylandii hedging was dying out at the base. The soil was depleted of nutrients. Soil improver would need to be incorporated before re-planting with dry shade tolerant plants.




As the Leylandii hedge plants had become tall trees they were no longer fulfilling their role as a privacy screen.





An Acer needed liberating from the trees. 




Willow screening installed by Chris Milner of Milnscapes to wind between the trimmed back Leylandii tree trunks. With the soil improved a selection of dry shade tolerant perennials could be planted.




With privacy secured a golden stemmed bamboo was planted between the Acer and camellia in one of the clients' pots. the lower level planting in between consists of perennials with contrasting foliage shapes and colours. The new turf was edged.




A potted black stemmed bamboo contrasts with the smart white paving and creates a focal point closer to the house.



My winning design for a new outdoor space at RHS Hyde Hall, 2016. A competition judged by Chelsea Gold winner Adam Frost


Planting Designs

Garden Design Project at Writtle College 2016

All images copyright Kate Cox at Border Designs 

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