Award-Winning Rooftop Garden Design?

I’m excited to bring you another SGD student design – this time for a stunning rooftop garden for the English Garden Future Fund competition.

Gillian’s design has been shortlisted for a chance to study garden design at the world-famous Inchbald School of Design with course fees paid!

I’ll now pass you over to Gillian, a passionate gardener, to tell you about her design…Rooftop-garden

Garden Over the Thames

“I have enjoyed my cottage garden for a number of years but decided I wanted to take it to the next level – design. Google was my friend in searching for the right online course and I discovered Rachel at Successful Garden Designs. I watched her videos and purchased the wide and square garden design formula package, which I thoroughly enjoyed and learnt a lot. It’s all about lawn shape!

Applying for The English Garden Future Fund Competition was a way to experiment with what I had learnt from Rachel and guess what, I was lucky enough to become a finalist!

The brief was to design a low maintenance rooftop garden overlooking the Thames (UK) for a professional couple. My lovely husband even pegged out the dimensions on the back lawn so I could see how big the space was, which was very helpful.

The design

My design is a relaxing low maintenance contemporary rooftop garden which has an underlying New Zealand (NZ) theme with a boardwalk intertwining with the stony stream, koru design shape, NZ flax and wood. It has a sand dune feel with the curves, mounded gardens, driftwood colours and grasses inspired by the NZ beach.

I wanted all senses to be used, the plants create interest with colours, textures and movement, the river stone stream helps drainage and recycles its own water and is lovely to listen too. A slatted wooden curved structure runs from the ground to roof over a table area creating a sheltered “nest”.

Plants are under filled by pea gravel and LED lighting under the boardwalk allows the space to be used at night. The splash of sedum flowers are not only beautiful, they attract wildlife. The design took approximately 2 months to complete and I really enjoyed working on it. 

I guess my take home message would be, believe in yourself, follow your dreams because you just never know, they maybe come reality…..just like mine did.”

I think Gillian is being far too modest – ‘luck’ had nothing to do with it – she studied what to do and then took action, she made this happen…

WELL DONE Gillian for creating a superb design and getting this far in the competition!

Vote for Gillian now!

Please help Gillian achieve her dream and vote for her (or any of the other finalists!) – click on the link below to cast your vote!

Votes close on 19th August 2016, so please vote right now (Gillian’s is the 3rd garden in the list)! Thank you.

Need help with your garden design?

If you’ve got a Wide, Square or Awkward Shape Garden and you’d like to do the same course Gillian did, then check out:

How to Draw and Group Plant Symbols

I’m delighted to introduce Lisa from the Lisa Orgler Design. Lisa is a fabulous designer and artist, she’s very kindly agreed to show us how to draw planting plan symbols like a pro.

We all have grand ideas for our garden.  We scrutinize local nurseries, plant catalogues and Pinterest for plant ideas and interesting combinations, then sit down with pencil in hand to dream big on paper.  This step often hinders some.  Insecurity in artistic abilities or just not knowing how to draw a plant in plan view (looking from the sky towards the ground) can deter the best garden planning dreams.

The tutorials below show how to draw plant symbols in plan view with either simple circles to complex shapes (you choose).  Once you can draw them one by one, I’ll show you how to group them so you can create beautiful massings of plants.  Enjoy experimenting with a variety of sizes and groupings.  You’ll have a wonderful garden plan in no time.

Plant Symbols

Let’s cover individual plant symbols first.  I’ve included an illustration below showcasing a sampling of plant symbols, plus I created a short video so you can actually see the drawing process.


Watch the video below to see Lisa demonstrate the drawing process

Now it’s time to group together…

Once you’ve mastered the plant symbol, it’s time to group them (as you would group plants in your garden). A general rule of thumb for planting design is to mass plants in odd numbers (though once you’ve exceeded eight in a group you can drop this rule).  The steps below explain how to pull plant symbols together, plus I’ve included a video for those that prefer an active demonstration.



1. Circle-template-(Orgler)Using a circle template (pictured), draw your plants using circles. Don’t be afraid to overlap the circles a bit (so in real life your plants form a mass).

2. Use a felt tip marker to outline the outside edge of the group (with whatever plant edge you’d like…see some examples above). Don’t ink the lines that overlap. This technique emphasizes the plant group (rather than the individual plants). Graphically, it’s also easier to read. It’s okay if your pencil lines show, since the ink will dominate.

3. Use a grey chisel tip marker to add ground shadows (all on the same side…typically the bottom right or bottom left).

4. Note that cross-hairs in the middle of the plant indicate it’s proposed, while a dot indicates existing.

5. Only group plants graphically that are all the same species.


Download a great free guide from Lisa on how to create a theme garden

If you’d like to learn more from Lisa, do go and download her wonderful new book that guides you through coming up with a unique garden concept.

Question or a comment?

If you have a question for Lisa or would like to leave a comment, please do so in the box below…

And if you’d like more design tips, attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:

Every business has got to have one these days, so here it is - Disclaimer: Please note, the information contained on this website is for educational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to provide accurate, up-to-date, reliable, and complete information. No warranties of any kind are expressed or implied. Readers acknowledge that the author is not engaging in rendering professional advice. By reading this website, the reader agrees that under no circumstances is the author responsible for any losses, direct or indirect, that are incurred as a result of use of the information contained within this website or related downloads, accompanying videos, or other supplementary materials. This includes but is not limited to errors, omissions, or inaccuracies. The material contained on this website is not meant to be a substitute for formal training nor a replacement for professional training or services. Please note some of the links on the site go to affiliate websites where a small commission is earned if you purchase. Please do your due diligence on all linked to products before buying.   Find Rachel on Google+
Google+ Google