Creating the Perfect Edinburgh Garden

Edinburgh’s New Town, when seen on a satellite image, can appear quite grey. This is no surprise; the city is renowned for its Georgian architecture and the ashlar stone used in its construction adds further uniformity to James Craig’s award-winning street design. However, zoom in closer and the image opens to reveal row upon row of lush and vibrant green spaces. Edinburgh residents, like most people living in Scotland, love their gardens and spending time in a well-designed outdoor space is the ideal antidote for the high-octane pressures of modern life. Here, property restoration specialist, Mackenzie Hughes outlines what it takes to design the perfect Edinburgh garden with help from garden and landscape design studio, silverflowe design.

Silver Flowe Design

Diane Blood and Steven Johnston of Edinburgh based silverflowe design share a passion for the natural environment. Both are qualified garden designers – Diane having trained at The Oxford College of Garden Design and Steven at The London College of Garden Design. Together, Diane and Steven have designed gardens in some of the most exclusive areas of Edinburgh including the New Town, Stockbridge, Colinton, Marchmont and The Grange. Here they answer questions clients often ask when they look to create their perfect garden. 

What should I consider when planning my Edinburgh garden?

Firstly, there is no such thing as a blank canvass. If your home has been designed to reflect your personality it should also flow into your garden. Think about including the natural landscape beyond the perimeter wall to create synergy. An example of this can be seen in a garden we designed in Edinburgh’s Duddingston Village. Spoil from the site was recycled where possible, in the banks, placed as steps and laid as stone panels on the slopes, echoing the exposed rock on Arthur’s Seat.

Images by Silverflowe Design

A good garden is life-enhancing and a place of wonder. If you can see the whole space from your home, there’s no point in going outside. It should retain a sense of mystery, a sort of secret garden effect with surprises in store and new things to discover at every turn.
Think about the location of your garden and how to make best use of the available light. The spot you’ve chosen for your morning coffee may not be the same one for your early evening G&T.

When is the best time of year to design my garden?

Your garden can be designed at any time of the year. If, however, your home is about to undergo a restoration project, it makes sense for your garden designer to work closely with your architect or builder. This means your garden can be planned as an integral part of the complete project rather than an afterthought. Such was the case when we designed the garden in the grounds of Dovelight, a holistic wellbeing centre in Colinton. We worked closely with David Blaikie Architects and Mackenzie Hughes to bring the client’s vision to life.

Dovelight. Hub designed by David Blaikie Architects and built by Mackenzie Hughes.  Garden by Silverflowe Design.

Once the design has been completed and approved the build phase will take place throughout the year. For example, hard landscaping may be completed early in the year from January to March. Planting however, will usually take place in autumn, winter or spring. Because a garden project will take time to come to fruition it’s best to have it designed about a year in advance of uncorking that bottle of champagne you’ve set aside for your grand opening.

How much time will I need to maintain my new garden?

This is a common question and the answer is as much as you can spare. That said it’s important to raise this at your first meeting with your garden designer as it will influence the design process. Other points you may wish to list before your initial consultation are:

– Reflect on what you really want to do outdoors.

– Decide your potential budget, including design fees.

– Browse images to find gardens, planting and features which suit your style.

You can read through the design process on the Silverflowe Design website which outlines what you should expect when commissioning a professional garden designer. You can also email Diane or Steven on for further details.

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