Wondering who’s responsible for that spectacular garden at the newly reinvented Annabel's? Let us introduce you to Cameron Landscapes & Gardens, an award-winning garden service in London who, besides creating one of the the most instagrammable garden settings in London, is also responsible for the beautiful designs at The Bloomsbury, The Ivy and The Marylebone. With extensive horticultural knowledge, they can add beautiful colours and textures to your garden and offer perfectly tailored, unique designs for both domestic and commercial spaces. And if you are planning on hosting a few garden parties this summer or thinking of building a whole new roof terrace; George Brooke- who oversees their design team- is here to give you a little inside scoop on garden design.
What inspired you to start a career in Garden Design and has this always been a passion of yours?
I have always loved being outdoors but garden design was not a vocation from a young age. It wasn’t until I went to work at Tatton Park Flower Show during my time at University that I realised my interest. This was my first exposure to garden design and I really enjoyed the balance and diversity of its many parts - plants, aesthetics, design, practicalities and attention to detail. Then post university I obtained my diploma from the London College of Garden Design and worked for myself for a year before joining Cameron Gardens.
Tell us a little bit about the work you do and how your typical day looks like?
At Cameron there is no such thing as a typical day as there is always an interesting mix of things to do, which is part of the reason why I enjoy it so much. Having said that, my day normally starts with site visits or calls to the commercial installation teams and then an office based meeting with the design team to ensure we are all on track. The rest of the day consists out of client meetings, new business pitches, designing, plant ordering and planting visits to round it up.
You handle a very diverse range of design projects from roof terraces to domestic country gardens, which do you enjoy the most and why?
Everyone at Cameron Gardens specialises in different areas and has a particular love for different spaces. I enjoy dealing with a variety of garden spaces, whether inside or outside, small or large they all have an individual characteristic to them but one of my favourite types is the City Roof Terrace. They are always a fabulous surprise, offering spectacular views and providing somewhat of a secret world. And often connected with an internal living area, they are required to blend in with this space and ultimately enhance it. Although the range of planting used on a roof terrace is completely dependent on the client's brief, one should take certain factors such as area access, the strength of the terrace and of course the workable space, into consideration. In most cases it’s more efficient and helps reduce the weight load, to use pots and planters rather than building planting beds. Additionally, a roof terrace often comes with a wonderful view, so you would want any high planting one may consider to safeguard privacy to also allow for views of the inspiring cityscape.
What are key trends in gardening for this summer?
One of the most current trends is the wildlife friendly garden that allows for a little corner of wilderness into our gardens to do our bit for biodiversity. There is also high demand for British materials and plants as people move towards high quality domestic products with a lower carbon footprint. And we see increased emphasis on the practical use of our gardens with room for outdoor cooking, dining and relaxing for the ultimate outdoor living experience. Growing your own is another noticeable trend, whether it’s a small herb patch, vegetables in pots or a larger slice of the garden dedicated to the good life. It’s important to note that pots and containers can breathe life into the smallest of outdoor spaces and their content can be changed depending on the season and the mood, which is why greening balconies and terraces prove to be so popular at the moment. Internal gardening is also on the rise as even those with no outdoor space can now enjoy gardening. We are also seeing a lot of vertical walls, which is re-greening the urban environment through vertical growing systems. In other words green is in!
Which standout project in your career are you the most proud of?
All our projects tend to be a result of fantastic teamwork; if I really had to make a choice I would say that I am particularly proud our work at The Bloomsbury and The Marylebone. Both hotels have their own individual styles and areas, and the various gardens and planting we have created reflect the different vibes while working towards the overall brand of the hotels.
For instance, the entrance of The Bloomsbury has an inviting woodland vibe with lush green planting, which evokes an unassuming and welcoming atmosphere. The open terrace has more colour with floral seasonal planting that can be altered with the season to create the desired ambiance. And to complement the interior of the new Coral Room and create a cocktail setting, we added vibrant and bright tropical plants such as birds of paradise, palms and banana plants.
The Marylebone entrance is simple and sophisticated providing an appealing and relaxed feel that sets the tone for the rest of the hotel, which has a mix of corporate and public spaces. The Corporate area is 1980’s in design and the planting provides an inside outside feel, the planting used on the inside echoes that used on the outside terrace. While Brasserie 108 has a continental feel with sleek climbers and ferns, the planting for Pantry 101 is in English country garden style; soft, relaxed as befitting of the cafe. The floral seasonality keeps it ever changing and interesting.
The most enjoyable challenge for all these spaces is ensuring that each zone has it’s own feel but they also link together so that there is a sense of balance and cohesiveness. The planting is specifically chosen to enhance and support the raison d’être of the area. In addition, we want to achieve the look of lush and bountiful planting whilst working with the space allowed and make sure the area fulfils its commercial reason as well.
How would we recognise a garden design by your hand, do you have a signature style?
Every Cameron Gardens design is 100% bespoke and different to any other design ensuring the clients garden is a result of own personal wishes. Even the gardens at The Ivy Restaurants differ from each other depending on the location and the intended atmosphere.
We pride ourselves in creating beautiful spaces that really answer the clients brief with creative design ideas and planting schemes as we work collaboratively with clients and other contractors. From a commercial project perspective, we relish the challenge of designing beautiful gardens and covering the commercial requirement. As a team we are completely focused and pride ourselves on our professionalism, creative flair, complete attention to detail and ability to deliver projects on budget and to schedule.
What are the leather accessories you can’t live without and how do you take care of them?
My mobile phone case, which also doubles up as my wallet. It’s has undergone a lot of wear and tear and I don't take care of it as well as I should. It is in desperate of a fix so I need The Restory’s help!
And finally, what are your main tips to achieve a peaceful and relaxed vibe in a London city garden?
The most important thing to keep in mind is to make the space your own. Concentrate on including plants that you love in terms of colour and scent for instance. Do you want the flowers for picking or to remain naturally on display? Consider what it is that you need to use the space for and be realistic about how much time you have to maintain it. If you are someone who enjoys entertaining guests then consider an outside kitchen, which can include an area of herb planting, for example a herb wall or in planters. Think about the furniture you want, which can be brightened up with some of the fabulous outside materials, which are now available.