fbpx

Mark Draper – Designer


Designer and project manager Mark Draper has worked for Graduate Gardeners for 29 years, during which time he’s won three gold medals at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, along with three ‘best in show’ awards and one people’s choice.

One of the most enjoyable things about my job is that no two sites are ever the same.

At one end of the spectrum are gardens with expansive views that offer plenty of opportunities to make the most of borrowed landscapes to draw the eye.

As strange as it might seem, sometimes there can be too much to take in and it’s necessary to focus on particular aspects of what lies beyond.

This was certainly the case when I was asked to prepare a design for a garden on Cleeve Hill, from which it was possible to see for miles and miles. The customers were keen on racing, with Cheltenham Racecourse clearly visible, so I took that as my cue and used a pergola to frame the grandstand.

A pergola is used to frame a view

Elsewhere it may be necessary to draw the eye away from unattractive landscape features like pylons, with strategically-placed trees and bushes providing a useful means of diffusing the things that customers don’t want to see.

The opposite of sites with expansive views are small spaces surrounded by fencing or hedging within cities such as Bath and Oxford, or the historic towns close to our base in the Cotswolds.

Privacy is often a major consideration for customers and we make good use of devices such as pleached trees – often described as hedges on stilts – to provide an attractive sense of enclosure without the feeling of being within a goldfish bowl.

A small space is used for entertaining
Concentrate on a small number of features

On sites such as these we have to be especially mindful of access, which means not only coming up with great ideas but working out how to execute them.

Lately we’ve been creating a roof garden for an apartment in one of Bath’s Georgian crescents, with access involving five flights of steps and our customer’s beautiful home, so all of this has had to be factored into the design.

On some occasions the secret to making the most of a small space is the things that are left out; it’s best to concentrate on one or two features rather than trying to include too much and ending up with a garden that looks cluttered.

…sometimes the secret to making the most of a small space is the things that are left out…

Garden lighting

One brief involved a restricted space in Cheltenham that the customer wanted to use as a dining terrace. We increased the sense of privacy using pleached trees and a yew hedge, and included a water feature to diffuse the sound of cars. In the small front garden we used topiary to provide year-round structure and height.

Urban Oasis Zingy Flowers
Urban Oasis was designed for the 2018 RHS Malvern Spring Festival

While designing for specific sites often comes with a number of restrictions and considerations to bear in mind, creating gardens for shows is all about having a blank canvas. My favourite is ‘The Urban Oasis’ at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in 2018, which was voted ‘People’s Choice’.

This was a space for a young and trendy professional couple to let off steam at the end of the day. It used criss-crossing decked boardwalks that seemed to hover over a rill of jet black water and a modern meadow filled with zingy flowers and grasses, while colourful steel panels co-ordinated with the modern pergola.

This was a space for a young and trendy professional couple to let off steam at the end of the day. It used criss-crossing decked boardwalks that seemed to hover over a rill of jet black water and a modern meadow filled with zingy flowers and grasses, while colourful steel panels co-ordinated with the modern pergola.

Join our mailing list for all the latest news & gardening tips from our experts

Join our mailing list for all the latest news & gardening tips from our experts

Email us


Email us

Contact us

Calfway Lane, Bisley,
Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 7AT
Tel: 01452 770273
Email

© 2020 Graduate Gardeners Ltd

web site design, seo & hosting .: computancy

Graduate Gardeners - Landscape gardeners Gloucestershire

Calfway Lane, Bisley,
Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 7AT
Tel: 01452 770273
Email

© 2020 Graduate Gardeners Ltd

web site design, seo & hosting .: computancy