Whether you are looking to completely redesign your garden or just make a few simple changes approaching a landscaping project of any kind can be daunting – where do you start?  There are so many factors to take in to consideration - what type of grass will grow best in my garden? Which flowers are most suited to my style of property?  How will the plants I choose change over the passage of time?  To name just a very few questions which will inevitably arise. What is more, a visit to the local garden centre can be bewildering – often you’re tempted in to buying all these beautiful plants and flowers only to get home and realise that they’re not quite right for your environment. That’s where forward planning is vital and where the help of a professional can prove invaluable.Here, landscape garden designer, Bella Alladio, from Alladio Sims Garden Landscape Design Ltd, offers her insider tips on garden design!

1: How did you get in to garden design and what services do you offer at Alladio Sims?

Like many others in this business I got in to garden design as a second career. Previously I had worked as a linguist and conference interpreter. I studied at the London College of Garden Design where I met my business partner Jon Sims. In 2015, following a successful collaboration on ’The Secret Garden Party’, a main show garden created for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Jon and I decided to set up a company together to offer a more comprehensive approach to our work, and to make the most of our different skill sets. Our practice offers a design and project management service to deliver our clients beautiful outdoor living spaces from initial consultation through to completed gardens. We work with professional landscapers and nurseries and are driven by a passion for excellence and meticulous attention to detail.

 2: What should homeowners consider when re-designing their garden?

The first thing to consider is that house and garden should feel like they belong to each other and the best way to achieve this is to plan the garden design together with the house or the extension. This will not only allow for economies of scale but also for a better and more uniform ‘feel’. Not to mention disruptions to the work already done when the garden is being built. If no changes are made to the house then the best time to work on a garden is during its dormant season – autumn through to early spring, and the starting point should always be a clear brief and comprehensive garden survey.

 3: How can homeowners add a ‘wow’ factor to their garden?

There are lots of ways in which this can be achieved: introducing a path with a sculpture at the end to draw the eye; creating a focal point by uplighting a multi-stemmed tree; a bespoke bench to use as a lounger and/or for entertaining; a feature wall or screen to act as a ‘room divider’ giving the garden secret spaces.

 4: What changes can be made to a front garden to add curb appeal?

A front garden forms the first impression as we approach a house therefore it should always look smart and clutter free (think about where the bins will be stored and how you can screen them or minimise their presence). Another important point is off-street parking and ways in which a drive can be integrated into the garden when not used as a parking space. And finally, one could choose a style that complements the house period or one to contrast it, to create an immediate wow factor and add curb appeal.

 5: What quick updates will instantly lift a garden?

Edging is a priority – any border or lawn looks a million times better when the edges are sharp.

 6: Are there any shrubs, plants or flowers which are your personal favourites and why?

Osmanthus Delavayi is my favourite shrub as it’s such a hard working plant – evergreen and easily clipped and shaped, it produces little but highly fragrant flowers in spring. It’s glossy leaves light up darker corners and it is useful against fences and walls to soften boundaries too.

Hackonechloa Macra is my favourite grass, it is well behaved, softly arching and perfect to light up a difficult dry shady spot next to Hostas or Aquilegias. 

Peony Krinkled White is my favourite flower – graceful and delicate pure white with a bright yellow centre, it doesn’t last for long but it’s worth the wait every year!

 7: Can you give us your top three insider garden design tips?  

Have a clear list of what your objectives are and allocate a realistic budget to achieve them, consider the key views out and try and draw the eye with a path or through an archway and limit your materials and plant palette – simplicity and repetition will bring all the key elements together beautifully. 

 8: Finally, what’s hot in gardens for 2017?

There are so many hot trends! This year the emphasis seems to be back to bold colours and natural materials to create a strong story between indoor and outdoor spaces. The attraction of bees and pollinating insects is still going strong and native ‘wild’ plants and single flowers are in high demand in gardens both large and small.

 Alladio Sims Garden Landscape Design Ltd was established in 2015 after Jon Sims and Bella Alladio collaborated on an RHS medal winning show garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The practice is based on a collaborative approach with Jon’s background in interior architecture giving distinctive spaces and Bella’s passions for plants and photographic eye adding great texture and contrast. The practice is based in London with a regional office in Farnham, Surrey. They work with both private and public clients, including the RHS and various cultural organisations.  Find out more about how Alladio Sims Garden Landscape Design Ltd can help re-design your garden by visiting or contacting them driectly on, Tel: 020 7732 3996 / 07887 764244

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