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Here I'll be telling you what I've been up to, whether it s a new design, community project or just things I've seen that I like.

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By Sarah Kay, Oct 21 2018 08:17PM

I revisited one of my planting schemes last week in E2. This canalside communal terrace looks particularly good in Autumn. Here's some of my favourite planting combinations:

Astrantia, Lavandula, Hebe and Calamagrostis

Calamagrostis, Berberis, Heuchera and Astrantia

Erigeron and Dryopteris filix mas

Dryopteris, Anemone x hybrida 'Honourine Jobert' and Cornus alba elegantisima

I look forward to seeing how these combination develop over the seasons.

By Sarah Kay, Oct 12 2018 06:08PM

I had the pleasure of visiting Great Dixter this week. Located in Northiam, Sussex, this beautiful Arts & Crafts house and gardens, designed by Edwin Lutyens, was the family home of the respected gardener and garden writer Christopher Lloyd, who designed the original planting. In 1992 Fergus Garrett became the Head Gardener, working alongside Lloyd to replicate and build upon his vision for the gardens, until Lloyds death in 2006.

In Lloyd's own words, Great Dixter is a 'high maintenance garden' of mixed borders within the framework of yew hedging, yorkstone paths and renovated farm buildings. The borders contain a mixture of trees, shrubs, climbers, perennials, biennials and annuals and there are none of the segregated colour schemes you see often in other public gardens.

The high impact visual displays of Lloyd's garden have been emphasised under Garrett's head gardenership, with many of the standard rules of planting design challenged.

In my view, this creates an exciting melting pot of inventive planting combinations, some very successful, some less so. However the garden does have a slightly chaotic rythmn and is not particularly restful to observe.

What I do love, however is the secret garden nature of the structure of the garden, with a surprise at every turn. Once within the garden, it's difficult to have a feel for the overall structure and that makes passage around the garden an adventure.

By Sarah Kay, Oct 5 2018 04:07PM

Autumn is well and truly here but it's still warm and dry enough enjoy a day in the garden, tidying and preparing it for Winter.

Here's my top 5 jobs for this month

1. Plant Spring flowering bulbs

Now is the time to plant your daffodils, Tulip and Allium to ensure a colourful start to Spring next year.

2. Plant Clematis plants

Autumn is the perfect time to plant Clematis as the roots have time to establish during the Autumn before the new growth begins in the Spring

3. Prune climbing roses

Prune roses before the colder weather sets in and tie back any unruly stems.

4. Move trees and shrub

Now is the best time to move the feature plants in your garden as they become dormant for the the Winter.

5. Mulch your beds

Add nutrients to your flower beds by mulching with bark, well rotted compost, leaf mould or mushroom compost. Your plants will thank you for it.

Enjoy the weekend in the garden!

By Sarah Kay, Sep 23 2018 06:42PM

My latest completed project is my design for an E3 Family Terraced Garden. My clients were looking to create a tranquil but practical family garden, which would provide a pleasing view from the kitchen all year round and be easy to maintain.


This west facing garden in Mile End orginally consisted of a rotten raised deck 1 metre or so from the bi-folding kitchen doors, a broken concrete patio, raised beds on either side of an bare lawn and a old lean to shed across the back of the garden. A large Cherry tree dominated the right hand side of the garden and a Quince tree was sited in an awkward position.


The first essential to be addressed wasthe creation of a usuable entertainment and dining space, a large sandstone patio. This leads to central steps and gravel landing with curved beds leading the eye along a gravel path to the back gravel area.

The Quince tree at the back was removed to allow for easy access to the back of the garden and the domineering Cherry Tree replaced by a Cercis Canadensis 'Forest Pansy' with changing leaf colour throughout the year.

The materials chosen reflect the traditional materials of the Georgian house, with Raj Green sandsone, London stock bricks, flint gravel and hit and miss fencing which provides privacy from the neighbours whilst allowing wind and light through into the garden.

An artificial lawn creates a playzone for children and pets and a small shed will house tools.

Planting consists of evergreen climbers including Clematis Armandii, Trachelospernum Jasinoidesand Lornicera Henryii 'Copper Beauty' which will soften the fencing over time. A Parthenocissus Quincefolia 'Engelmanni' will cloak the back wall with it's colourful foliage providing a striking view from the kitchen.

Hydrangea Petiolaris will soften the North facing fencing with Luzula nivea, Sarcocca confusa and Polystichum setiferum providing the evergreen backdrop for the seasonal flowers of Astrantia major 'Abbey Road', Galanthus and Narcissi 'Tete a tete'. The sunny beds contain Amelanthele Lessioana and Festuca evergreen grasses with seasonal colour coming from Salvia verticilata 'Purple Rain', Allium Sphareocephalon and Geranium phaem 'Samabor'.

I'll return to photograph this garden once the planting has matured in the Spring.

By Sarah Kay, Sep 14 2018 09:15PM

I had a great day out at the London Design Biennale this week. Here's some of my highlights from the 40 countries,cities and territories who entered the exhibiition.

1. Hong Kong - Scratch & Sniff wallpaper - The smells in the wallpaper evoke the emotions of the 'Fragrant Habour' with roast duck, egg tart, opium and temple insense.

2. Greece - Anipakoi - This 17 metre long steel spring skeleton made with recycled plastic flexes as you walk along it, with its title referring to the Greek word for disobediance.

3. Argentina - The Impenetrible Forest - This installation consists of a winding path through curtains of weaving strings and geometric shapes inspired by the Wichi people of Argentina

4. Guatamala - Palopo - This inspired by a project in a small lakeside village in Guatemala to paint a whole town in patterns inspired by the textiles of the region.

5. Latvia - Matter to Matter focuses on the transcience of emotions by inviting visitors to leaves messages on a wall of condensation.

See the website for all other exhibits or better still go and visit yourself.