I run a professional garden consultancy business, offering simple garden and planting designs for people who want beautiful and sustainable gardens.
Below are pictures of some recent design projects I have undertaken, as well as testimonials from my clients.
Border redesign, Bothwell
This beautiful period property was calling out for a planting design that matched its formality and grandeur. The existing planting was a combination of deciduous shrubs and herbaceous perennials, which was all a little mismatched. I felt it needed evergreen structure and formality to bring it all together. With the front garden, I opted for lots of topiary balls, in standard (lollipop) and lower shrub forms. We removed all the herbaceous planting to keep the design crisp and simple. In the back garden, I continued the topiary theme and introduced fastigiate Taxus baccata to continue the evergreen formal feel. To soften the back garden, which is used as a family space and for summer entertainment, I included lots of robust perennials such as Astrantia, Leucanthemum, Stachys byzantina and Acanthus, to add plenty of colour over a very long flowering period.
Garden revival and wildlife friendly plants, Kirkintilloch
The brief was to bring this garden back to life and deliver a low-maintenance space which would be very beneficial to wildlife. We decided to relay the tired old paving and remove a large section of the lawn to create space for a variety of bird and pollinator friendly shrubs that would also offer year-round interest. These included Viburnum opulus, crab apple, Daphne and Buddleja. The back section of the lawn was retained and turned into a wild flower meadow with a mixture of perennial wildflowers including Prunella vulgaris, Achillea ptarmica, birds foot trefoil and our native harebell. We used yellow rattle to suppress the grass growth and encourage the wildlflowers to thrive.
Blank canvas, Duntocher
The owners had moved to this house 18 months ago and the garden was a blank canvas, consisting of a large drying green surrounded by gray walls. The couple wanted to introduce plants to the garden and had inherited a number of established shrubs and other plants from friends and neighbours which were to be incorporated into the scheme. Rather than planting into the far edges of the garden, we suggested bringing the plants towards the house by digging in two borders – one beside the patio and another island bed. To soften the gray walls we planted lots of climbers, including roses, clematis, honeysuckle and climbing hydrangeas. The result is a low maintenance space which packs a colourful punch all through the year.
Border overhaul and redesign, Bearsden
The beds in this Bearsden back garden contained a mixture of shrubs, roses and herbaceous plants – many of which had outgrown their space. Most of the large shrubs were Rhododendrons which offered early season colour but the client felt that the beds lacked interest into the summer months, when they most wanted to use the garden. I suggested removing all of the old shrubs, keeping and dividing some of the perennials and working with the existing roses, which still provided the garden with lots of colour and scent through summer and into autumn. The new design included lots of herbaceous planting including cooling silver Stachys, violet Salvias and structure in the form of Cornus and Miscanthus grasses, which will offer interest all through the winter months.
“We were looking for someone that could both design and then reshape the flower beds in our Bearsden back garden to a very high standard. We had recently read an article about the Bonnie Gardener in the local press and were so enthralled that we immediately contacted Nicola to ask if she could come up with an eye-catching layout that would make us want to spend more time outside. And we were not disappointed. The outcome is wonderful – so much so, that Nicola has recently completed some re-modelling work in our front garden which includes a small woodland pathway. Overall, our gardens have never looked better – and this is all down to the Bonnie Gardner. Great vision and ideas, expertly executed.” Patrick Murray, Bearsden
Calming border design, Campsie Glen
This planting design was for a brand new property which the clients had built themselves. A new bed had to be created and planted from scratch. The owners wanted attractive and relatively low-maintenance plants which they could admire from the windows across the front of the property but did not want the plants to hinder their view of the surrounding landscape. I opted for a cool and calming colour scheme of purples, greens, silvers and whites. Stipa tenuissima and Verbena bonariensis add texture and height but their ‘see-through’ nature allows the client to admire the views of the landscape beyond.
“Our new border was beautifully planned and laid out by Nicola with a variety of plants which all came together very well and to our entire satisfaction. She and her willing band of helpers planted this out in a day and we have to say we admired their hard work as there were hundreds of plants involved. We are now enjoying the garden with all it’s textures and colours – as are the bees and other lovely flying insects. Can’t recommend Nicola highly enough.” David Milliken, Campsie Glen
Front tenement garden, Glasgow West End
This garden had once been a beautiful wildlife haven full of plants but the owner had been forced to remove them to allow scaffolding to be erected and building work to be undertaken. Once the scaffolding was down, the owner got in touch with me to ask if I could help him to reinstate the garden to its former glory, choosing wildlife-friendly plants and working on the garden to achieve a cottage-garden look.
New build planting scheme, Aberlady, East Lothian
This client moved into a brand new Cruden home in East Lothian earlier this year. The back garden was a complete blank canvas with nothing apart from four walls of fencing to look out to – not even a lawn! The client had previously lived in a flat in Edinburgh and so had no gardening experience – they got in touch to ask for my advice on how to introduce some planting into their garden. I visited the site and helped the client to decide how best to lay out the garden to maximise the space. We decided to introduce a curved sweeping bed down one side of the garden to soften the hard edges that feature in many new build properties, and I then designed a planting scheme which included sensory plants including lavenders and Nepeta (catmint), as well as tactile ones like red hot pokers, to encourage their two young children out to the garden. We also planted an evergreen Griselinia hedge along the back fence to enhance privacy and offer a home for beneficial wildlife.
“Just to say a big thank you to Nicola for designing the back garden of our new build property. The garden was a blank canvas and having young children we wanted a garden that worked as a play and entertaining area as well as a garden with it’s own unique character. Nicola understood our needs and designed a garden which met our requirements, maintaining a good sized lawn and using hedging, small trees, flower bed designs as well as a curated selection of plants to provide all year round colour and interest! Would definitely recommend Nicola to anyone who needs some expert help with designing their garden especially if like ours you’re starting from scratch! “ The Moodleys, Aberlady
Ongoing design and consultancy, Lenzie
This client got in touch after he had ordered a large quantity of plants for his garden to ask for my help in laying them out and planting them. Since then, I have been helping Stewart and his family with planting schemes for other areas of their large garden, as well as advice on how to care for and manage their new plants.
“Trying to find someone that loves your garden as much as you do, is not an easy task. Having tried 2 landscape designers and 3 gardeners, I was told about the Bonnie Gardener. I first met Nicola on a rainy autumn day in our garden, immediately knowing she was the gardener for us. She radiated a passion, energy and enthusiasm to work with our large and rather unstructured garden. Nicola quickly became an integral part of our garden, bring a vast knowledge and love of plants and an eye for design. Her ability to translate and work the client’s ideas into a living and evolving natural environment is outstanding. She becomes the garden, with an ability to see how it will evolve over the coming seasons. She commits to both the client and the garden and is equally happy designing a garden or digging up plants on a rainy winter’s day. She is the professional, driven and happy gardener that ever garden needs and is so hard to find nowadays. We cannot do without Nicola in our garden and feel she has adopted us and our garden into her gardening world.” Stewart, Lenzie