Established garden, Edinburgh outskirts

Size approx. 1120 m2 (1/4 acre)

For some the thought of upheaval for a full garden rebuild is totally off-putting, and a gentler design approach where the garden is upgraded progressively is the preferable choice.

The owner of this charming established garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh invited Karen to cast her design eye over the existing layout and planting to help it fully live up to its potential. A keen and knowledgeable gardener, the owner like many others found it difficult to know how to re-imagine such an established garden in need of improvement.

There were many beautiful specimen plants within the garden, but also many that were no longer contributing or had outgrown their place. In terms of hard landscaping, the basic layout was to the owners liking but some areas just didn’t work and the whole layout required a cohesive overview to get the best from this garden.

As such, this is an ongoing progressive project working with the client’s gardener Mark and landscaper Luke Boam and team from to sympathetically make changes with minimal upheaval for the client and her continual enjoyment of her garden.


The first phase was to redesign and renovate some of the old herringbone brick path and redefining the old rose bed. The priority being to blend in the old with the new, which Luke achieved skilfully. At the same time the rose bed was reshaped to better harmonise with the geometry of the house and garden improving the pathways and strengthening the impact of the garden entry.

In the second phase we transformed a sunny area close to the house that had been used for drying laundry into a sheltered evening sun terrace with views through the rich planting to the woodland beyond.


As mentioned some of the established plantings had outgrown their positions and Karen took the opportunity to transform some of these mature conifers beginning reshaping them with cloud pruning in the Japanese style. Creating a Bonsai style mini forest from a shapeless Picia  abies “Nidiformis”.

Several other mature plants have been rediscovered in this way or repositioned composing more interesting harmonious interactions balancing the planting.

Our next step in this garden’s development will be a small pond to sit below the miniature Oriental landscape that has taken shape below the pruned Picea.

This is a very rewarding garden transformation to share with the client gardener and landscaping team and we continue to enjoy it’s unfolding.