Cool Christmas Gifts for Garden Lovers!

Do you hate Christmas shopping as much as I do?

I doubt that’s possible but just incase you do we’ve made your life a little bit easier with some fab selections for the design conscious gardener (oh and there’s some fun ones as well)

We’ll start with the fun ones!

Garden Games from Greenfingers.

Easy on the Purse Strings – funky favourites on a budget!  

These gorgeous gifts are all such a STEAL – nobody would know that they came in for £10 or less!

Unwins Mediterranean Kitchen Garden Herb Kit

Sarah Raven Seed Tins -£4.50 at

I love the bright turquoise colour, and a set of tins is Soo very useful for ANY gardener

Unwins Mediterranean Kitchen Garden Herb Kit – £5.99 at

Fabulous, retro and organic!


Slate Herb & Vegetable Markers – £9.50 at

A great stocking-filler for those of us who can never be found…!

Log Lantern – £9.50 at

These lanterns are so very trendy, stylish but practical too! Buy a set of 3 for along the middle of the dining table, and they will look a treat. Fabulous duck-egg colour, very ‘in-vogue’

For the Allotment-Loving-Shed-Dweller!

So, we all know someone who loves to disappear for hours in the Shed/Man-cave/Allotment.  Whether they spend more time drinking tea than digging up the potatoes, show them your love with one of these special gardening-lovers pressies.

String Dispenser in Thyme

String Dispenser in Thyme – £8.00

We can NEVER find the end of the string…this simple dispenser is the perfect solution…and it looks cool too!

Gardeners Tin of Plant Labels

Gardeners Tin of Plant Labels – £9.99

We gardeners LOVE a handy tin! This one, keeps all our labels tidy.

Willow Trugs

Willow Trugs – £27.95 at  We all love a trug! Perfect for harvesting…and for storing, and stylish in the kitchen too…

If you really want to give a special gift this xmas…

Rawlinson Willow Gazebo

How about treating your loved one to this lovely willow gazebo?  Creating a special place for that cuppa, reading the newspaper or just to unwind at the end of a long day of digging and weeding!  This free-standing structure can fit easily into any garden – on a paving area, gravel area surrounded by planting, or simply on the lawn.  It will make a real impact. Rawlinson Willow Gazebo – £299 at

For the Glamorous Gardener

Heathcote & Ivory Gardeners Tea Break Hand Essentials

For that special lady who still has the perfect manicure whilst pruning the roses…  Guess what?  We don’t have to be brown, green…or covered in mud to be keen gardeners!

Heathcote & Ivory Gardeners Tea Break Hand Essentials – £9.00 at

This fabulous set includes an exfoliating scrub to get to the bottom of that grime and a nourishing Vitamin E hand cream  – all presented in this pretty mug.

With a rather French, vintage feel – this cute bulb kit will be a winner for the glamorous lady in your life.

Briers Historic Palaces Tudor Rose Kneeler

Briers Historic Palaces Tudor Rose Kneeler – £12.99 at

The Tudor Rose pattern on a lavender-blue background – a matching set of gloves and kneeler, for the lady that appreciates pretty things.


Heatcote & Ivory Dandelion Manicure Gift Set

Heatcote & Ivory Dandelion Manicure Gift Set – £13.50 at

So very very stylish! The gorgeous Sanderson Dandelion Clock Design packages up this lovely set, which includes a hand cream, hand scrub AND cuticle cream and emery board.

For the Design-Conscious Gardener  

Orla Kiely Secateurs

Gone are the days of boring old watering cans and lack-lustre hand trowels.

For Designer edge, funky names such as Orla Kiely are a no-brainer.  Who says ‘Practical’ can’t also be ‘Stylish’?! Orla Kiely Secateurs – £19.99 at

Globe Tea Light Holder

Orla Kiely Secateurs

Globe tea light holder – £16.99 at  I feel that I have been looking for these gorgeous tea light holders for years!  With a sculptural quality they will look simply stunning adorning any tree or pergola.

Place them around an outdoor dining terrace to create a magical atmosphere. I’ve ordered mine already!



Festoon Lighting

Wire Bird on a Stake

Festoon lighting – from £28.00 at

The simplicity of these garden bulbs strike such an impressive impact… why save them for a special occasion?  Fabulous around an entertaining area in the garden – and a lovely present with impressive ‘WOW’ factor!

Wire bird on a stake – pewter £9.99 at

I have totally fallen in love with these bird stakes.  So quirky, so cute and they will make a statement in any border.

Become a World Class Garden Photographer with Saxon Holt

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 09.33.01

Coupon-SGDSaxon Holt is an award winning photographer who shares his knowledge and passion for garden photography in this great series.

As a life-long gardener, he is a truly amazing photographer. He has the ability to capture the nature and personality of a garden and the individual plants in it, in a way that no one else can. If you know someone who wants to take great plant and garden photos, Saxon Holt’s books will take them to a whole new level…

As he’s a good friend of Rachel’s he’s giving Successful Garden Design readers a discount on any of his book! Just use the code sgd10 at the checkout.

Online Garden Design Courses (Worldwide)

Of course, what better gift for the ‘Green-fingered gardening guru’ in your family, than to arrange a special on-line course or workshop for them.

Buy your Mum, Dad, Grandad, Auntie one of our Garden Design Online Courses, and they can take part whenever they have time, in their own home, and they will thank you forever!  Any of the online garden design courses or workshops can be purchased as a gift and instant access sent to your loved one for Christmas. Instructions on how to transfer a course as a gift are in the welcome email on purchase, and of course all gifts come with our same 60 day garden formula coursemoney back guarantee!

Your suggestions…

What wonderful garden related goodies have you come across? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy shopping – tis the season for it! ;o)

From all at SGD, have a good one!


Please note: On some of the gift ideas above, we receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, this helps keep me sufficiently supplied with mince pies over the festive season! Please also note, that I do not have direct experience with the companies listed above, so do buy at your own discretion.

Power of THREE: Useful Tips from Garden Designers…


A contemporary garden, with only 3 main materials…

So, as the saying goes; ‘Three’s a crowd’ well, not in my book, and not in the eyes of most other designers. For, ever since the beginning of time, we have understood the power of groupings of three (well, ok, slight exaggeration perhaps, but you get my drift!).

It is the secret weapon of designers the world over. Stop. Take a look. And you will see.  The Power of Three.

Plant THREE Large Containers

There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than a grouping of three large Urns, positioned absolutely exquisitely for maximum impact.  Add to this, the very simple idea of planting with the SAME species – et voila! You have designer-impact in your garden, worthy of Chelsea.

Andy Sturgeon is the master of this – demonstrated perfectly in his 2010 Daily Telegraph garden …. 3 exquisite oversized shallow bowls planted with equally exquisite irises:


The simplicity of 3 beautiful oversized pots filled with irises, and 3 large slabs of limestone.

Of course, for this to work, it must be THREE OF A KIND – the repeat impact is divine. 3 urns, pots, containers…of the same size, material, dimensions…..planted with the same species, same colour, same height. Pure perfection.

PLANT in Groups of THREE


These plants have knitted together beautifully, but started in life as groups of 3!

Planting in groups of three is the perfect scenario for any border.

There is something that just feels ‘right’ about odd number groupings – 2 is too linear and too refined.  4 feels like ‘ducks in a row’, but 3 OF A KIND; planted with enough space to grow, but definitely ‘together as a group’ – sits comfortably with the mind and pleases the eye.

Planting in Three’s allows the group to be ‘staggered’ – free from rigid constraints; just as nature intended.  Plants should sprawl, mingle and intertwine, not be lined up like soldiers or tied up in straight jackets.

Stick to THREE Different Materials


slate, stone and crisp clean walls – that is all!

This is a golden rule that I stick to religiously.  Never, ever, use more than 3 different types of materials in your garden.

3 gives a nice contrast of finishes – you can introduce different texture and pattern to your surfaces. Lovely effect.

Add more, and soon you have a mishmash of materials, a hodgepodge of effects and an assault to the senses.

Stick to the rule of three and you will not go wrong.

 OR, as De La Soul would say, ‘ the magic number’..!

If you would like the Successful Garden Design cheat sheet and video on how to add the WOW factor to your garden  please add your email address below (don’t worry we don’t spam and will NOT pass on your address to anyone else!).

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Modern Materials at the Chelsea Flower Show – “Take-Home” Ideas

So the crowds have dispersed, the designers and TV cameras gone, the gardens dismantled and the Chelsea grounds are once more returned to the pensioners for their retirement. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 is over.

But what can we take home from the show this year? What ideas, tips, tricks, themes can we borrow? And how can we re-create a slice of Chelsea in our gardens back home?

Is Grey the New Black?


Grey fencing in Alan Gardner’s Viking Ocean Cruises garden

Grey is not often a colour associated with gardens, but amongst the abundance of colour and frothy perennial planting at Chelsea, the backdrop of grey stood out. Or, should I say…..the frothy colourful planting was allowed to stand out, against the backdrop of Grey?

Chelsea Sean Murrays Garden Challenge Garden

Grey slate used in Sean Murray’s front garden design

Chelsea Darren-Hawkes-Brewin-Dolphin-Garden

Grey slate was dominant in Darren Hawkes garden for Brewin Dolphin

Slate, whether simply used as pathways (Sean Murrays Garden Challenge garden), or exquisitely hand cut and formed into giant foreboding platforms, (Darren Hawkes Brewin Dolphin garden) was a reoccurring theme. The coolness of grey gives room for the plants to shine and stand out which is always important – and they all look fabulous against it – from cool whites and fresh greens, to hot reds and fiery oranges.

At home, an area of your garden can be transformed with a simple slate mulch, interspersed with repeat plantings – grasses such as stipas or Deschampsias work particularly well with a splash of colour mixed in – try the bold Iris germanica or jewel-like orange Geums. Be bold and paint your fence panels grey to provide a backdrop for your plants to shine and stand out.

Dark Dark Pools….

Water always plays a huge part in Chelsea gardens, and this year was no different. A little tip that the designers use – dark blue/black pools give water features a sense of infinity and work wonders with reflection and shadow.


The M&G garden’s dark pool with decking walkway

Look how the M&G garden pool draws you in and the Breakthrough Breast Cancer water provides exquisite reflections. A dark pool sits beautifully as a centrepiece amongst lush foliage, providing a reflective mirror finish. A few white stemmed Betula alongside….and you have a thing of beauty.

To create the illusion in your own garden – consider lining your pool/water feature with black – whether it be tiled, a black lining or simply painted inky black…

And here’s the secret weapon – designers use natural dyes (Hydra black water dye) within water pools, to give maximum reflection. Water dyes are harmless to pets, fish, children and are available readily to transform your water feature.

If you are lucky enough to have a still pool of water, think carefully about your reflections – a careful, considered choice of planting can make all the difference.

Chelsea M&G-garden-pool

Exquisite reflections in the dark water of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer garden

Must-have Meandering Pathways

Paths and walkways are often given little consideration in our gardens – but please take time to think again! The meander, the turns, the width of a path, can all make a dramatic difference in our gardens.

A very wide garden path for example, like Charlie Albone’s in his garden for Husqvarna and Gardena, means that you can allow the planting either side to get exuberant and flop over the edges in a really pleasing way.

Look how the plants creep into the pathway. Another trick used by the designers is to plant in cracks and crevices between pathway stones – they leave purposeful gaps of fine gravel to fill with sprawling ground coverers such as Thyme, Sempervivum and small varieties of Sedum. Much more interesting then pointing every single stone.

A meandering path, rather than a straight line from A to B, is just so much more pleasing to the eye, and how nice to slow things down a little, and take time to stop and admire the plants – a time for quiet contemplation.

On a practical level – creating a journey around the garden in this way also makes your garden appear so much BIGGER (one note of caution – don’t make the curves and turns too tight; a gentle meander is the objective, not a wiggly path!)

Chelsea Husqvarna-and-Gardena_

The wide pathway was a dominant feature in Charlie Albones’ garden


Chelsea Charlie-Albones-garden

Matthew Keightleys’ garden with meandering pathway

Front Gardens Don’t Have to Be Boring!

Don’t save all your design enthusiasm for the back garden – be inspired to inject some colour and personality in front of your house too! BBC Garden Challenge show winner Sean Murray produced this stunning front garden; with room for parking cars (check), water rill (check) seating area (check) wildlife habitat (check).

Now, we may not all have this amount of space out front, but simply replacing hard standing with a permeable mulch such as slate or shingle – with just a few well-positioned paving slabs, interspersed with sporadic planting – et voila! – you have created a naturalistic front garden that can accommodate cars (without the usual wall-to-wall paving) – but is also good for the environment and encourages wildlife.

To provide a little structure to this naturalistic approach – include some clipped topiary cubes or spheres in clusters, as Sean has, and the whole design will be pulled together.

Chelsea BBC-Garden-Challenge_Sean-Murray

Front gardens can be interesting too!

Chelsea BBC-Garden-Challenge_Sean-Murray_2

A great idea for a front garden path…

Tiny Seating Areas!

Even the smallest of spaces can provide a tranquil spot to have a cup of coffee or enjoy a good book, You don’t have to have the biggest garden or even the biggest budget, to incorporate great design. Even hidden amongst the huge plots at Chelsea, I found the tiniest of seating areas, some only 4ft wide – it doesn’t matter.

With plants wrapping all around you like a warm cuddle; who wouldn’t want to enjoy an alfresco drink in this spot? Be bold with your planting – a small area doesn’t mean small planting. Sitting in a quiet spot with foliage and fronds all around you, is just divine.


A tiny circular seating area, nestled under a tree


Be bold with planting around your seating areas!

So do not despair! It is often overwhelming to see so many beautiful creations at what is the pinnacle of all Garden Shows – so many ideas to take in, so many different design styles and planting styles, so many gorgeous plants. But there is a little bit of Chelsea that we can all take home.

Choose just one little idea, and go for it with gusto! For me, I’m off to buy that grey paint to give my fencing panels a facelift…now then, just one decision left… what exact shade to choose…….?!!

Which was Your Favourite Garden at this Year’s Show?

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If you would like the Successful Garden Design cheat sheet and video on how to add the WOW factor to your garden  please add your email address below (don’t worry we don’t spam and will NOT pass on your address to anyone else!).

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Create a Chelsea Flower Show Garden – on a Budget

It is often said that the Chelsea Flower Show is the world’s best garden show (for those outside the UK think of it as a horticultural Wimbledon). I view the Chelsea flower show as a catwalk for garden design. All the latest fashions and trends in one place.

Like with fashion, a lot of what you see at Chelsea is designer flights of fancy. But having said that, if you look beneath the hypey ‘just for show’ stuff, beyond that is real design inspiration that can be used in any garden.

One complaint often raised is that the gardens are impractical and are beyond the reach of most people. The show gardens at Chelsea cost around £180,000 to build.

So How do You Translate Chelsea Catwalk Fashion Into Your Garden At An Affordable Price?

British Heart Foundation Garden

Rather than focusing on the unaffordable elements of the show gardens, focus on how you can translate something that inspires you into something that works in your own garden.

Ideas themselves are often not expensive, its construction and materials used at Chelsea that cost the money. For example Ann-Marie Powell’s garden for the British Heart Foundation has lush green planting round a central pool. The elements that make it standout are the bright red metal tubing that has been used to form archways. If you wanted to copy that, the tubing doesn’t have to be metal, nor does it have to be red. You could create the look using plastic pipe on top of metal rods inserted into the ground.

Coloured plastic pipe

You probably need a bit more space between each set of pipe because they’d clatter in the wind, but you get the point you can create something like this for a fraction of the cost with a bit of imagination. And one advantage with using plastic piping instead of expensive metal tubing would be if you get fed up with it you can quickly and easily remove it and if you’re really nifty you could recycle the piping and make a poly tunnel frame!

Construction Counts

Monaco floating deck planter

Another example is the fabulous central feature of a floating deck lavender planter in the Monaco garden. Now whilst it looks wonderful without upright supports to make it look like it’s floating, the expense of RSJ and the construction efforts that would go into creating it aren’t really worth it for most gardens. You could create something very similar for a fraction of the cost if used a pergola frame clad in hardwood decking.

The runway of deck in that Monaco garden doesn’t have to be a water chute for a pool, it could just be a deck path.

How To Use Inspiration In Your Garden

When you see something you like train yourself to ask what is it specifically that you like about it. Is it the colour, shape, texture or planting? Once you’ve narrowed it down you can then work out cost-effective way of doing the something similar in your own garden.

If you’d like to learn more about successfully planning your own garden take a look at my online garden design course the homeowners. Here I’ll guide you step-by-step through everything you need to know to create fantastic garden.

To see more of the show gardens visit the RHS website. What inspiration have you taken from this year’s Chelsea Flower show?

If you would like the Successful Garden Design cheat sheet and video on how to add the WOW factor to your garden  please add your email address below (don’t worry we don’t spam and will NOT pass on your address to anyone else!).

Download the ‘WOW Factor’ cheat sheet & video

Enter your best email address in the box below

Inspiring International Gardens

I’m going to start this week’s blog post by shamelessly stealing someone else’s idea! My good friend Jenny Peterson did a great garden video showing highlights of her gardening year in 2010.  So, I thought I’d do a video of all the fantastic gardens I visited last year. Here it is…

If you’d like to know more about the gardens that are featured in the video please click on the following links:

Alhambra Palace garden Granada Spain

Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

Burghley House Lincolnshire

Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba, Spain

Coimbra Botanic Garden, Portugal

Parque de Maria Luisa, Sevilla, Spain

Jardines de las Reales Alcazares

Exciting News!

I’m interviewing internationally acclaimed, award-winning garden designer and author David Stevens tomorrow for the new podcast series. Do you have any questions on garden design that you’d like me to ask him? If so, please leave them in the comments below or send me an email from the contact page of this website.

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+
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