David Gilbert


Sculpturally exotic garden

Exotic, huge, recently-designed garden, featuring tropical/Mediterranean-zone plants. Dramatic, architectural planting including bananas, large tree ferns and rare palms, weave along curving stone paths, culminating in a paradise garden. A modern take on the rockery embeds glacial boulders amid dry zone plants, including many succulents. Sculptures by artist owner.

New this season are two wonderful stone terraces with lovely seating,  several new areas already planted up,  sculptural teak roots from Indonesia, and an addition of 1.5 tons of glacial boulders and Westmoreland limestone rocks.

We were open for the National Garden Scheme on 10th September 2023 with tea and delicious cakes.  There was also live music that afternoon – the  Secret Life Sax Quartet will play a wide variety of music “from Bach to the Beatles”.  Some pictures of the event are here.

Our NGS website: findagarden.ngs.org.uk/garden/36058/12-lauradale-road

The Paradise garden has several seating areas and a large central water feature – specially commissioned from India – as the hub of a network of curving stone paths. It is surrounded by a circular bed of fragrant herbs. An exotic orchard comprises pomegranate, peach, quince, apricot, loquat, prickly pear, fig and black mulberry and is complemented by a stone terrace featuring orange and lemon trees.

A Hartley Botanic greenhouse with a curved glass roof houses a propagation bench and many tender plants including cacti. A stand of Jaquemontii birch frames a view of Highgate Woods. Arid beds feature aloes and agaves. A small natural pond encourages wildlife.

Established palms, some of which are seven metres high, have recently been complemented by a variety of types, for instance a Chilean wine palm which will one dwarf them. Banana varieties include musa basjoo, ensete ventricosum and musella lasiocarpa. Other standout plants include tasmarisk, tetrapanax papyfer rex, grevilleas, tea trees, cycads, dasylirion, beschorneria, bamboos, yucca rostrata, bottle brush, bird of paradise, cistus, strawberry tree and mimosa. Mediterranean herbs feature throughout the garden, as does a wide range of pittosporums.

The garden design and implementation started in 2016, and is the result of a seven-year evolution, starting with watercolour designs by the owner of his dream garden in collaboration with garden designer Steve Buckley. Over twenty tons of stone from India and Portugal were used to create a structure to set off the planting, which is now maturing rapidly to realise the design.

Garden photos