The English Garden

English gardens.

22 January 2016

Nigel and Jan Brandon are possibly a garden designer’s dream clients. They knew what they wanted, were keen to be involved and were content to let the professionals create the reality. Nigel, a professor at Imperial College London and Director of the Sustainable Gas Institute, took a scientific approach. “We wanted a space with a contemporary feel. We both like precision in our lives, so symmetry was important. We enjoy collecting art and sculpture, mainly by living artists, so it was important to us that the garden would be suitable to accommodate them. We also wanted our garden to be a place we could enjoy in all seasons and at all times of the day.”

The house is a detached 1930s build, with a later sympathetic wing addition. The rectangular garden had been professionally levelled and was mainly laid to lawn, with a terrace at the top and bottom, and a path along the left hand side. Having worked successfully with a professional interior designer to update the house, the pair felt they needed a garden expert. Jan is a keen gardener but the size of the garden daunted her. “I realised that I would probably not be bold enough to get the scale right. Buying one or two plants at a time was not going to work for this space,” she admits. Their interior designer introduced the couple to London-based Marcus Barnett who has designed three Chelsea Flower Show gardens – winning gold medals for two of them, one being in 2015.