Kate Gould is an award winning garden designer for London and the Home Counties. With over seventeen years hands on experience Kate is regularly commissioned by home-owners, architects and interior designers as well as property developers and commercial clients to transform gardens of all sizes.
Week one on site for The Greenfingers Charity Garden
Packing up the vans, grabbing all the coffee and Yorkshire Tea supplies needed (1000 teabags should do it) along with copious amounts of biscuits to get us through build-up is a time-honoured tradition and every garden for Chelsea starts the same way. Every year as we enter the show ground, the only feeling we can compare it to is not one of fear and trepidation but the warm fuzzy feeling of the familiar, akin to the return home from an extended holiday. Although the showground is a hard task master, demanding long days and sometimes nights, we only have affection for this epic British institution, the BEST flower show in the world!
That similarity between home and the showground may have something to do with the fact that the team practically live on site for approximately sixteen days before the show opens to the public. Those sixteen days are intense sometimes eighteen hour days. The team spirit keep you going and of course the immense pride we have for having the opportunity to build a garden on hallowed ground.
Week one has been full of adventure so far. Keith and Colin, our project managers, have pushed hard to keep the garden on schedule as much as possible. A great big Greenfingers GREEN steel structure has gone up in the first few days. This structure supports the upper level, extending the footprint of this 10m x 15m plot and creating a completely different vantage point of the garden. The second level is made up of planters, decking and a cargo net for further seating within the deck to add an element of fun. The cargo net (www.southwestplay.co.uk ) also offers a completely different perspective for the garden, you are able to look down on to the lower level taking a sneak peek at the contrasting shaded planting scheme from the upper level drought and pollution tolerant planting.
Although the garden is not for play, Kate has created a number of elements to keep children interested and engaged in the garden. The garden has spaces for quiet reflection and relaxation while families spend time together.
So, while some of the team have been decking out the upper level, building planters and fitting a glass balustrade, other have been decorating the garden with more ‘green’ this time in the form of bricks. The best team of bricklayers the world has ever seen has been creating amazing GREEN walls! Sam & Sam’s dad aka the Fairgrieves, give up their time freely every Chelsea garden build to create our walls and sometimes water walls. Kate has designed a stunning focal point in the garden which extends from the lower level right up to the second floor. Ibstock (www.ibstockbrick.co.uk) have kindly donated a selection of green and cream glazed bricks which Kate has manipulated into a pattern for a two storey feature wall, and single coloured green bricks give the lift system a back drop and also line the walkway from ground level.
Our trees for the upper level are now in place, thanks to Lynch as well as a fabulous Cornus on the corner of the garden which has kindly been loaned to us from Majestic Trees (www.majestictrees.co.uk). Still to come this week will be our lift for disabled access to the top level, our ‘waving hands’ water feature as well as all the planting and a gorgeous green apple swing seat donated by Linum Loom (www.linumloom.com ) The extremely talented and generous Emma Stothard (www.emmastothard.com ) has created matching green apple sculptures for the garden and we have to say, that we cannot wait for these to arrive along with soft furnishings gifted from Christopher Farr Cloth and The Outdoor Cushion Company.
Thanks to all our generous sponsors who have donated their time, skills and products to this amazing garden to help raise awareness of the good work The Greenfingers Charity have done over the years for children’s hospices around the UK.
Visitors to the garden at the show can expect to be able to take home lots of ideas for sunny roof terraces and overlooked balconies from the upper level of the garden and inspiration for shaded outdoor spaces, basement gardens or courtyard retreats from the lower level.
Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for real time updates, otherwise check back here next week to see the highlights from the Greenfingers Charity garden build-up week two of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
2019 will see Kate and the team design and build their 10th show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and they couldn’t be more pleased that it is for a wonderful charity doing such amazing work in the UK. We are also excited to be creating this show garden on Main Avenue at Chelsea which will make this a very memorable garden for the whole team in years to come.
The Greenfingers Charity Garden is a lush green split level garden which provides a peaceful, interactive and uplifting space where life-limited children with complex needs, their families, friends and carers can come together for play, relaxation or peaceful reflection. Set over two levels, with a lift (yes we did say a lift!) and sloped walkways, the ‘Greenfingers Charity Garden’ is an accessible space for people of all ages and abilities.
With its magical water-feature and innovative design, this garden aims to highlight and promote the therapeutic benefits of the outside spaces created over the past 20 years by the Greenfingers Charity, the charity dedicated to creating inspiring gardens for life-limited children and their families who spend time in hospices across the UK.
Kate has designed the garden to have a variety of different spaces. There are places to relax in the sunshine and also under canopies. Hit and miss brickwork walls create privacy, shade and interesting shadows without blocking views. The inclusion of a lift system will ensure disabled access to all levels of the garden.
Kate says: “I am honoured and delighted to have been chosen by the GreenfingersCharity to design and build this garden. Myself and the team are excited to be bringing their dreams of a garden at Chelsea to life, we hope we can do it justice. The Charity does great work so helping them to raise awareness while simultaneously promoting the many benefits of outdoor spaces is wonderfully in line with our company ethos. Usable green spaces in every sort of environment are key to uplifting and enriching the lives of the people who use them.”
Greenfingers is a national charity dedicated to supporting life-limited children and their families who spend time in hospices around the UK. To date Greenfingers Charity has created 56 inspiring gardens in children’s hospices around the country and has a further waiting list of hospices that need their help.
Please visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from the 21st – 25th May 2019 to see this amazing garden and support this important charity.
Kate Gould and the KGG team along with Keith Chapman MBE and Colin Evans who helped build the garden in Singapore are thrilled with their second gold medal of the year as well as ‘Best Outdoor Lighting’ award in their category.
They traveled to Singapore on the 8th July 2018 to begin building a show garden for the ‘Landscape Garden’ category at the bi-annual Singapore Garden Festival. Kate teamed up with implementing partner ISS Hydroculture based in Singapore to bring her design to reality with hard and soft landscaping. Work began on the 10th July and judging took place on the 20th July. Everyone couldn’t be more pleased with the results of their hard work.
Pictured from left to right: Minister Desmond Lee with Kate and Mr Jimmy Ng (Implementing Partner, ISS Hydroculture Pte Ltd)
Pictured from left to right: Lo Lai Ling (ISS), Kate, Wemby Novitasari (ISS), Venus Tan (ISS), Alex Tng (ISS)
From the moment the team at ISS Hydroculture agreed to work with us to build the garden and bring Kate’s design to life, they worked tirelessly to make sure the project was a success. Kate and PM Keith made a recce trip to Singapore in February to meet the team. ISS had organised to visit numerous nurseries to begin selecting show standard plants as well as quarries and hard landscaping merchants. They really made the whole experience as enjoyable as possible and shared their knowledge and expertise of the hydroculture planting system.
Daytime SGF 2018- Kate Gould and ISS Hydroculture PTE ltd
Landscapeplus were a great support for sorting all the lighting products here in the UK and getting it shipped over to Singapore for us ahead of the show. All that effort paid off with the ‘Best Outdoor Lighting’ award. We would love to thank the Landscapeplus team again for all their help in helping us achieve another show garden.
Night time SGF 2018 – Lighting products supplied by Landscapeplus
“I was so pleased and overwhelmed to be given the chance design a garden for the Singapore Garden Festival.We are extremely fortunate to have worked with such an amazing group of peopleat ISS Hydroculture as well as the Nparks show teams who have made our experience, especially in the extreme weather conditions, so pleasant helping to bring the garden to life in such a short period of time. Each job and show that you complete you learn something from but this one particularly so as the planting palette is unique to its hot tropical environment. This garden has to be credited to the ISS team who shared their vast knowledge of tropical plants as well as the hydroculture planting system.”
– Kate Gould expressing her feeling on being chosen and the experience of building a show garden in Singapore.
Click below for more images from The Singapore Garden Festival 2018.
This year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show was a world-class celebration of spring, with the horticultural delights and surprises encompassing everything from cacti to concrete. But without question, the highlight for Kate Gould Gardens in 2018 was winning a fifth gold medal, for our New West End Garden in the Space to Grow Category.
The concept behind the garden.
Designed as a fresh take on the traditional London square, New West End Garden is the latest creation from the Kate Gould Gardens team. With air pollution in London reaching illegal levels just a month into 2018, we wanted to create a space that would provide some respite, as well as helping to clean up the atmosphere. So the plants within the garden were selected for their ability to thrive in a highly polluted environment and to absorb the harmful gases present in the London air.
Sustainability and consideration for the environment is a theme that is echoed throughout the garden, which features innovative paving tiles that harvest the energy produced when people walk on them. The energy is used to power light boxes that turn on as darkness falls in the city.
Construction of the New West End Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.
The behind the scenes work involved in the production of the Chelsea Flower show for both the organisers and the entrants is both great fun and all consuming. We wanted to share with you some pictures of the build-up which demonstrates what the site looked like before the garden was completed and a progression through some major stages.
A haven for busy Londoners.
Following the Chelsea Flower Show, the garden, sponsored by the Sir Simon Milton Foundation, will be relocated to Old Quebec Street, near Oxford Street in London’s West End. In a newly pedestrianised area, the New West End Garden will be a communal space that offers an oasis in the heart of the busy capital city. Featuring walls crafted from Ashlar masonry, and sheltered by trees around the border, the garden will provide a calm, private space where Londoners can escape for a few moments to enjoy the colourful blooms. It will be open to be enjoyed in all its glory at the Portman Summer Street Party on 15 July 2018.
Award winners in the Space to Grow category.
The Chelsea Flower Show is always a fantastic showcase for creativity and innovation in the garden, and Kate’s garden stood shoulder to shoulder with other winners in the Space to Grow category, including The Pearlfisher Garden, which featured an array of marine life in aquatic tanks, The Seedlip Garden, which celebrated the beauty of edible plants, and Urban Flow Garden, whose diverse range of plants provide interest all year round, and were selected to cope with both wet and dry conditions. It’s always an honour to be recognised alongside these other talented garden designers.
Accepting the award, Kate Gould said: “We would like to thank the RHS shows team and all the site staff who make the Chelsea Flower Show possible and for supporting us all the way with this garden. Myself and the team are absolutely thrilled to have won a gold medal for a sponsored garden and we would like to thank the Sir Simon Milton Foundation and New West End Company for asking us to be a part of this project.”
2018 seems to be the year for show gardens for Kate and the team. Kate was honoured to be invited to design a garden in the ‘Landscape Garden’ category for the Bi-annual Singapore Garden Festival which takes place within the Gardens of the Bay in Singapore.
The garden Kate has designed is called ‘Urban Lifestyle’. A courtyard space is intended for the use of a community, living in surrounding apartment blocks. The residents have no access to their own private gardens but can garden here in small numbers communally or on their own. Showcasing relatively small raised beds in different heights as well as hanging planters allows each area to be gardened individually as and when time permits.
Separate seating and lounging areas provide the residents with relaxing spaces. One area, over a calm pool is covered by a lightweight pergola which shields people using the garden from windows and balconies above, offering both privacy and shade.
Materials take their reference from the assumed building facade and are intended to be sturdy for year-round use and longevity. A green wall faces into the courtyard to break up the vertical hardscape whilst static and moveable screens allow flexibility of use by opening up the space if desired. Colourful highlights provided by the pergola and pool add drama to a predominantly foliage rich planting palette which is grown in a soil free hydro system to minimise mosquito breeding in small confined residential spaces.
The plants and moving water feature are lit for effect at night and some of the cushions are made from glow in the dark fabric which requires no electrical input and creates effect without light pollution.
Images below show the garden through some of the stages of construction.
Kate was really looking forward to using a completely tropical plant palette as this somewhat differs from what she is able to use in her UK garden designs.
SGF 2018 –bringing together globally recognised names for a floral extravaganza
Happening at Gardens by the Bay from 21 July to 3 August, SGF 2018 will gather top international designers for three star components – Landscape Gardens, Fantasy Gardens, and Floral Windows to the World.
As anchor displays, the Fantasy and Landscape Gardens will bring together celebrated luminaries from 11 countries for a showcase of creativity and horticulture excellence in 80 sqm show gardens. Separately, Floral Windows to the World will feature colourful and vibrant floral masterpieces complemented with stunning set design and lighting, by notable floral artists from around the world. For each competition, judges can hand out Gold, Silver and Bronze medals with the overall winner being awarded the “Best of Show” title
Water features in large gardens and stately homes have always been designed to impress but small garden water features are definitely worth their place. And although most suburban gardens can’t hope to emulate the scope and scale of these show-stopping installations, it’s eminently possible to recreate the same sense of serene, flowing wonder on a smaller scale.
Why introduce a water feature to your garden?
Water and gardens have always gone hand-in-hand. That’s partly because gardens are a place to indulge your senses, boasting gorgeous and alluring sights, sounds and scents.
Water has a particular sensory value with its ability to soothe and calm, but fountains and other water features have their roots in their practical application, too. All plants need water, and some of the lushest, most attractive greenery, grows best in close proximity to a bountiful water source. Ponds and pools will also attract wildlife to create a rich landscape.
Types Of Water Features.
There is a dazzling array of different water features available, suitable for every size and type of garden space. Water features for small gardens need to provide a focal point without overshadowing the rest of the garden.
Ponds. A simple but effective choice for any garden, a pond isn’t fancy or flash, but offers a sense of tranquility that speaks for itself.
Ornamental pools. Shaped to emphasise the features of your landscape, ornamental pools can transform your space into something special.
Fountains and jets. There’s nothing like the sight and sound of gushing water to soothe the senses. Water fountains can be a compact way to create a focal point in your garden.
Waterfalls and water walls. A little less ostentatious than fountains and jets, waterfall features provide that constantly-moving, constantly-changing feeling that could bring your garden to life.
Things to consider.
Planning is everything! The main issues to consider when designing your water feature concern its site and situation, but there are other things to think about, too.
Practicality. Is the proposed position for your water feature within reach of power and water supplies?
Exposure. Hot sun and billowing winds can reduce water levels dramatically, meaning you’ll need to top up your water far more frequently. Try to avoid areas exposed to extreme heat or draughts if possible.
Maintenance. How much work will you need to do over the years to maintain your water feature in good working condition? Think about how often you will need to top up the water, especially in the summer months and in the event of a hosepipe ban.
Safety. Will your water feature need to be child-proof?
Material. What will your water feature be made of? Options include stone, metal and slate and your choice will depend on how it blends with the rest of the garden.
Custom designs tailored to your small garden.
It’s very easy to purchase a water feature online and install it, ready-built, into your garden. This is a quick and simple way to introduce the wonder of water to your outdoor space. But if you are looking for something unique, that’s designed to complement and highlight the particular features of your garden, you could commission a bespoke piece. I designed and installed this beautifully relaxing custom water feature for a client who wanted to transform and revitalise a disused swimming pool in their Hindhead garden.
If you’d like to discuss how a water feature could enhance your small garden, contact me for a consultation.
Winter is often seen as a dull season when there is not much to look at. Conversely though, it is also a time when you can see those plants that choose to shine at this time of year in much greater detail without the buzz of the summer garden surrounding them.
Winter plants are not as showy as a summer herbaceous border but they make up for it with interesting foliage and often scent. Strong architectural shapes hold frost beautifully and provide interest through this rather bleak season.
Mahonia are stalwart back of the border plants where in summer they provide an architectural green backdrop. In winter their racemes of yellow flowers shine in the cool light and their lily of the valley scent can be appreciated from several meters away. Mahonia are large plants and Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ is one of the best, combining well with other plants that will add interest to your winter garden it will be in flower from November to March attracting winter insects and adding to the diversity of your garden.
Other plants to try.
Edgeworthia chrysantha is a much smaller shrub than the Mahonia, growing to about 1.5m in height and spread. In London it will be fine where temperatures rarely get down to -5 but if you garden in a cold spot plant it in as sheltered position as possible. Flowering from February to April its pretty cream and yellow flowers are also highly scented. It would work well with a lower storey of Helleborus x hybridus or an under-planting of spring flowering Crocus.
No winter garden should be complete without a Sarcococca. There are several different varieties to try all of which prefer some shade and a moist but well drained soil. Their glossy leaves act as a simple foil to summer colour but in the winter from December to March it is their tiny white flowers that you appreciate, perhaps not for their look as they are quite tiny but for the spicy scent that they produce. They are often very successful in pots and can be moved outside the backdoor when they are in flower to appreciate the scent at close hand.
For something a little showier then Camellia sasanqua varieties are well worth growing. Although fully hardy a sheltered spot is preferred to keep the blooms looking perfect. Harsh east winds and frosts will damage the soft edge of the petals. As with all Camellia, acidic soil and a site in partial shade is required. They aren’t the fastest growers in the world but their beautiful compact blooms from October to December are always well worth the wait. Autumn flowering Cyclamen would be a lovely under-planting.
If flowers aren’t your thing though, then there are a multitude of plants with fabulous winter stems and bark, all of which look beautiful backlit on a crisp sunny day:
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ – as its name suggests a fiery copper set of stems.
Prunus serrula – one of the less blousy Cherries when in bloom this tree makes up for it with shiny dark burgundy bark.
Acer griseum – one of the loveliest of trees with fantastic autumn coloured leaves but also cinnamon coloured peeling bark.
Whatever your choice, with a little planning and the placement of some carefully chosen evergreen shrubs to accentuate your colour scheme, winter need never be boring in the garden.
Kate often gets asked to write opinion pieces for fabulous magazines. The Gardens illustrated Editor asked Kate this time to talk about her favourite nurseries and specialist plant growers. Kate could have listed twelve off the top of her head but for the purposes of the article could only choose six as the article was shared with three other designers and ideally we could not choose the same. Most of the nurseries are trade nurseries but you can see examples of their work and specimens at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Europlants have a wide variety of specimen plants which are perfect to create wow factor in a garden immediately. Europlants are based in Hatfield in Hertfordshire just north of London. I have been dealing with Europlants for nearly 20 years, they are always incredibly helpful and operate with a family ethos therefore they always make you feel really welcome. They are a trade only nursery but I couldn’t write a list of my favourite places to buy plants without them being on it.
Orchard Deneare an Oxfordshire based grower of perennials. They are a herbaceous nursery who grow plants in a peat free soil. Their P9 plants may come in tiny pots but the amount of vigour they produce is extraordinary. A visit to Orchard Dene always guarantees that you will learn something new every time from passionate growers Chris and Toby Marchont. Orchard Dene are also a trade only nursery but they very often grow fabulous plants for designers at Chelsea.
Todd’s Botanics specialise in drought tolerant herbaceous and architectural type plants and trees which are either grown by them or hand selected from Europe’s specialist suppliers. They are based in Essex and owners Mark and Julie are really lovely and great to deal with. You will usually see their stand exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show but they also supply a number of the show gardens at the show. you can buy online or visit by appointment.
Hare Spring Cottage Plants is run by the absolutely adorable Stella Exley who exudes passion for Camassia’s out of every pore. The nursery specialises in Camassia but has a wide variety of other hardy perennial plants. Stella also holds a National Collection of Camassia as well as growing a range of Sidalcea and Uvularia. It is impossible to place an order with Stella without having an exuberant conversation about plants and a good old fashioned catch up. The nursery has recently moved to North Yorkshire, Stella’s home county. She is a regular exhibitor at Chelsea in the floral marquee and has also supplied her stunning specimens for show gardens in the past. You can order stock online or by appointment, but she does hold regular open days as well.
Jacques Amand has offered flowering bulbs of many varieties to discerning gardeners for over 70 years. They are my local bulb specialist based in Middlesex where I will happily spend several hours filling paper bags with way more bulbs than I need. When they pick orders for me they are always immaculately labelled and packed. Although I visit their nursery infrequently, each Autumn when I do my annual visit they always greet me with a friendly smile. They are both a wholesale and retail nursery. The nursery is running a Spring bulb event in February, with a talk by John Amand and sales of dormant bulbs as well as those about to flower or in flower.
Preston Bissett Nursery– A great retail nursery based in Buckingham, which has a wide range of really well grown perennials, interesting pots and great selection of sundries. You will discover the enormity of the entire selection of plants in dedicated areas, enabling you to create a whole garden in one visit. There are no limitations to choice. Rows of cottage garden plants right through to herbs, fruit, hedging and specimen large trees can be bought from this nursery. Another reason to visit this nursery is the amazing cake! They also run events with a selection of gardening speakers and tutors who come in on a regular basis and offer short workshops and talks.
We are thrilled to announce we will be building a show garden for The Ascot Spring Garden Show in April 2018. The show will be open from the 13th to 15th of April. The will be held at the prestigious Ascot Racecourse. Six show garden designs will be on display to ignite the public’s passion and ideas for gardening.
The six show gardens have been curated by Andrew Fisher Tomlin. The designers showcasing their gardens at the show with us are Catherine Macdonald, Landform Consultants; Joe Perkins, Longview Design; Pip Probert, Outer Spaces; Richard Holmes and Florian Degroise; and Tom Hill, Tom Hill Garden Design.
The Ascot Spring Garden Festival is a wonderful chance to demonstrate how interesting and appealing gardens can be even at a quiet time of year. The use of architectural and evergreen planting will be showcased allowing visitors to see how inviting and textural a simple green scheme can be combined with the use of furniture and features.
We are really looking forward to facing the challenges that building a garden at this time of year brings, especially as it is being showcased on the prestigious grounds of Ascot.
Kate and the team are excited to announce that they will be building a garden at RHS Chelsea in 2018. The garden will be called ‘West End Secret Garden’ and sponsored by the Sir Simon Milton Foundation who are being supported by the New West End Company. The countdown begins to another fabulous project!
A modern interpretation of the gardens and architecture of a London square, combining environmentally positive technology as showcased in Bird Street, located just off Oxford Street. A creative modern pocket of green space in the heart of London’s busiest shopping district. A communal garden for use all year round to provide a green oasis in the heart of the West End with positive clean air as well as an energy harvesting technology for residents, workers and visitors to use. The garden is to be a calm space with lightweight trees providing shelter and privacy from the surrounding buildings for those enjoying the space. Colourful low level planting around the perimeter invites you into the garden. Technology is factored into the design to work seamlessly in the space and not to be a token gesture.
The garden is a free standing space with references within and on the boundaries to the architecture surrounding it. This is a small, private corner of a larger space. The vertical boundaries are Ashlar clad which reference the classical architecture of some of the building present in a some of London’s most famous squares. The garden will also feature a sunken space enclosed by vertical green walls which create a relaxing heart to the garden to offset colourful perimeter planting. A classical water feature to help mask city noise. Cutting edge paving with integral energy harvesting and clean air (through a pergola) make this garden innovative. A sculpture can be seen from different angles.