Designing gardens is an intellectual, environmental and artistic challenge. I begin by getting a clear understanding of my clients’ preferences, style and vision as well as their short- and long-term goals. Next I measure and photograph the garden and observe the light and soil conditions. The existing or imagined fences, stonework, trellises and pathways or “bones” of the garden always need to be considered first because a good foundation is the key to creating a successful garden design. Existing or neighbouring trees can have a huge impact on the current and future garden, so they must be carefully considered. I imagine the look and fragrance of the trees, plants and shrubs in each season and in the years ahead.

Establishing a colour palette with four-season interest that resonates with my clients, as well as including their favourite plants, plus several hardy native trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials, are all the part of the puzzle. Other considerations include creating privacy or connections to neighbouring properties, creating a focal point, and knowing how the garden will adapt to children, pets, and wildlife.

Scale drawing and a booklet of all the plant materials I wish to include come next. I like installing and maintaining the garden I design because it’s satisfying to watch it mature and blossom. 

The beauty of a well-planned and executed garden will bring you joy and an ever-changing sense of wonder.