Belgian design style, often described as luxurious simplicity, is expected to come to the fore this year. Mia Witham of Mia Witham Garden Design says: “I am seeing some great garden products coming out of Belgium, which are typically high-end and have great form. I particularly love the beautiful clay pots by Atelier Vierkant, the woven fibre fencing and screens produced by Forest Avenue and the striking garden lights by Wever & Ducre. I’ll be using a lot more of them in 2020.”
Less is more
James Smith MSGD, Design Director at Bowles & Wyer, thinks the philosophy of ‘less is more’ will become more prominent, saying: “I really want to focus on creating more pared-back design schemes, but with high attention to detail and finishing.” Tracy McQue MSGD of Tracy McQue Gardens shares this philosophy, saying: “I’m looking forward to planting multiple grasses and a simple palette of perennials to make the lightest of design touches to a very rural project I am working on in Scotland. It’s important that my design ties in with the extended and wild landscape.”
Edible forests and romantic veg plots
With more people using foraged food for cooking, Mia Witham thinks that edible forests could become the new vegetable garden. She says: “I’m currently designing an edible forest for a chef in Suffolk. It is a carefully designed, semi-wild ecosystem of plants organised in layers with trees making up the canopy layer, shrubs providing a middle layer and perennial plants covering the ground. It’s an exciting concept, and unlike a traditional vegetable plot where annual plants are mainly grown, edible forests require minimum input for maximum output.”
Libby Russell MSGD of Mazzullo + Russell agrees, saying: “Productive gardens are still very much on-trend”. Libby, with her design partner Emma Mazzullo MSGD, mixes fruit and vegetables together with cut flowers to give a romantic flavour to their productive gardens. “As long as there is a very clear underlying design in the garden you can overlay so many layers, provided they create beauty and romance,” says Libby, who sees romantic gardens having a revival this year.
Repurpose and recycle
Tracy McQue thinks there will more of a spotlight on the repurposing of existing materials and recycling garden materials where possible. Mark Laurence MSGD, whose consultancy creates an adaptive landscape for a changing world, echoes this saying: “Repurposed items give a garden an individual look.”
Planting for wildlife
“Creating sustainable, wildlife-friendly and beautiful spaces needs to be at the forefront of everything we do; no matter what size or location of the gardens we are designing,” says Tracy McQue. She believes that the materials and plants we include, where we source them from and how we re-use elements already in the garden are becoming more vital considerations.
Jane Brockbank MSGD of Jane Brockbank Gardens shares this ideal, saying: “People are much more interested in making gardens that are good for wildlife. Awareness of the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity has grown enormously, even over the last year, and we are all taking our gardens far more seriously in regards to the important part they can play.”
Libby Russell of Mazzullo + Russell echoes this saying: “Our planting is evolving to use many more ‘wild’ plants that are great for bees, birds, pollinators and invertebrates but without losing glamour or impact. Single roses, species plants, seed heads and grasses are all valuable.”
Mandy Buckland MSGD of Greencube says she is incorporating “meadow areas, native hedging, gaps in fences for hedgehog movement and of course nectar-rich planting.” While Tracy McQue advises that water features are integral to the wildlife-friendly spaces, and ideas such as bee-friendly boundary hedges are simple to incorporate into any garden. Continuing this theme, Jane Brockbank says: “We are very interested in using shrubs in a more naturalistic way and we will be looking at how shrub communities work in the wild and take those principles to make them work in more designed settings, much like the ‘new perennial movement’ but for shrubs.”
The patterned garden
Pattern and texture will be creeping back into gardens in 2020. “Cold minimalism is beginning to look pretty tired now,” says Jane Brockbank, “and it also begs the question – ‘how does this contribute to the wildlife locally and in the garden’?”. Jane brings pattern and texture into her designs by creating faceted planting zones and by blurring the line between the hard landscaped and soft planting areas in the garden, using gravel planting to create the transition between the two.
Mandy Buckland of Greencube Landscapes thinks the trend for creating an outdoor room will live on and we will move away from regular formatted paving. She says: “There are lots of outdoor ceramic tiles on the market now. We are installing them as garden ‘rugs’ or design features within landscaped areas to create pattern, contrast and textural changes. It is much the same decorating a dining and living room in the house.”
After almost a decade of symmetrically ordered urban gardens, Mark Laurence thinks we’ll see “a turning away from the linear, contemporary town garden to something wilder and more curvilinear.” Mark says: “Curvilinear forms appear more natural in a garden environment, and they connect us back to the flow of natural forms in the landscape.” It’s a distinctive move away from the style of crisp, linear raised beds set against horizontal timber trellis that we have become so familiar with.
Following a similar path, James Smith of Bowles & Wyer has been experimenting with sculptural wall claddings in wood, metals and stone in organic, naturalistic patterns. He says: “I think wall claddings will gain momentum in 2020. They are perfect for maximising vertical surfaces in tight city gardens.”
“Look out for Monocouche renders in 2020,” says Mark Laurence. These renders are a new application in garden design, having been used predominantly by the house-building industry. Mark says: “Monocouche renders are low-maintenance, weather-resistant and hard-wearing; plus, they have great texture. Unlike paint, the mineral pigments are absorbed into the render and keep the surface breathable. I think the red or yellow ochres tones work very well in a garden setting.”
Ways with wood
“It’s not a new material, but I think there will be a focus back on using timber next year,” says Tracy McQue. “In the past, it has been viewed as a material to use at ground level or for basic fences, but there are many elements in the garden that clever design can incorporate timber into. We use a local Scottish wood supplier when we can, and I love the possibilities it gives us when we’re creating a new garden.”
Mandy Buckland of Greencube agrees, adding: “There appears to be a continuing rise in popularity of charred timber for decking and the use of Shou Sugi Ban - the ancient Japanese wood-burning technique.”
Cobbles and contrasts
“Sustainable design will, of course, continue to gain traction and as designers, we will become more accountable for the materials we specify and the decisions we take on projects,” says James Smith of Bowles & Wyer. He says he will be pairing highly engineered materials with rough and textured finishes for a lovely contrast for projects. While, according to Libby Russell of Mazzullo + Russell, we will be seeing “less cut stone in our gardens and more cobbles, pitchers and rough cuts appearing on the market,” particularly with British suppliers.
“Young families want to encourage their children to get outdoors, prizing them away from laptops, tablets and TVs,” says Mandy Buckland of Greencube. “We have been asked to integrate outdoor play in many of our gardens in recent months and have been incorporating blackboards, sandpits, hammocks, balance beams, climbing frames and even mini wildlife ponds. We design them so that they are integral to the garden layout, repeating the material and use of colour.” James Smith of Bowles & Wyer agrees, adding: “Gardens will increasingly become important for families, to connect at social gatherings and for mental health – a welcome antidote to technology and screens.”