Miriam Garden Design

What / Who is your garden for?

How do you want to use your garden? Do you want to enjoy the view of it from the house? Relax, work or play in it? Entertain in it? Cut flowers from it? Grow food in it? Your garden is part of your individual space and, like every other room in your home, it needs to be arranged and decorated to suit you.

Miriam’s message

I recognise the individuality of each of my clients. I listen carefully to their wishes for their garden and discuss the different requirements they have for the space. The gardens I create are uniquely tailored to suit the person or family they are created for.

The first master plan is only the initial step in a process of dialogue between designer and client, if there are things the client is not happy with, alterations are made, at no extra cost, until the garden owner has a design which fully meets their brief.

Please have a good look at this website, I hope there are things in it you like. But don’t forget that they were created to suit the space and the owner. Your needs are almost certainly different …and if you ask me to help create your garden I will produce a bespoke design to fit your wishes, budget and lifestyle. I will then work with you to translate the design into reality.

If you don’t want a full design but want help with a particular part, a planting plan for an awkward corner, advice as to how to blend different features together, I would be happy to be of assistance.

Contact me to discuss how I can help you get more pleasure from your garden.

I have been designing gardens in Sussex, Surrey and London for over 20 years. I am a Registered Member of the Society of Garden Designers which means my level of expertise has been examined and passed by my peers. If you ask me to design your garden you will be employing an experienced, professional, garden designer : www.broyeurs-vegetaux.com/broyeur-vegetaux-electrique

If you want to be happy for one hour get drunk, If you want to be happy for three days get married, If you want to be happy for a week slaughter a pig, If you want to be happy for a lifetime create a garden - Old Chinese Proverb

About Miriam Book

I have a lifetime love of gardens and passion for plants. As a child on holiday I used to create model gardens in biscuit tin lids using moss for lawns and twigs for trees. This led on to a degree in Botany (1st class) and a PhD in Genetics in which subject I did research until 1991 when the call to create gardens attracted me to study at the College of Garden Design from whom I received a Certificate with Distinction. Ever since I have been working as a professional Garden Designer.

Being a Registered Member of the Society of Garden Designers means I have passed their stringent tests. My many commissions have ranged from country properties extending over several acres to compact town gardens, in styles varying from traditional to contemporary.

As a student designer I was a finalist in a Royal Horticultural Society to design a garden for Wisley and some of my designs have featured in magazine articles. I was responsible for the design of the garden for the show house at “Build-it” magazine’s annual exhibition at Alexandra Place and for the “Plot for the Pot” vegetable show garden at Bentley Wildfowl Food Fair. Most excitingly I was the designer and project co-ordinator for the Accenture “Through the Glass Ceiling” Garden built at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May 2002 which was awarded a Silver medal. More recently I have been a part-time lecturer in Garden Design at Plumpton College in Sussex.

Despite all my experience and professionalism I still get excited by every fresh project and bring a huge enthusiasm for creating beautiful, functional outdoor spaces to each new job.

Garden Design Services

I offer the full range of services that you would expect from a professional garden designer. It’s a “pick and mix” bar, I will do as much or as little as you want. I am happy to simply do a master plan and leave you to build it yourselves or to do a planting plan for an existing bed. Whatever I do I will give you an attentive professional service and be available for phone queries at no additional charge.

Consultation and Briefing

Before I can begin to design your garden I need to fully understand your wishes, needs and taste. I use a questionnaire as an aide memoire but usually the discussion ranges far and wide as I work to understand exactly how you want to use your garden, what constraints there are and what your likes and dislikes are.

Garden Survey

The Design needs to fit into the space! So the space has to be accurately measured, including levels, orientation and the location of anything that will affect the design - from drains to trees. If the garden is not too enormous or full of nettles and brambles I like to do it myself as it is a really good way of getting a full understanding of the site. For larger gardens professional surveyors can be called in.

Concept Design/Masterplan

This is the overall plan for the new garden showing how the whole space will be used. I will bring it to you and help you to understand it. If you feel it does not meet your brief I will redraw/alter it until you are happy and have a design that you want to implement.

Specification & Construction Drawings

The Master plan is only the beginning. For a contractor to be able to build it correctly they will need a construction drawing specifying exactly the way in which it is to be built and the materials which are to be used. This means you can get several contractors to quote for building the garden and know they are all pricing for the same thing.

Construction Supervision

If required I can visit the site at various agreed points during the build to check all is going according to plan and deal with any queries that arise. Of course I am always available for phone consultation for no additional charge.

Planting Plan

Those beds need filling and the trees and shrubs need choosing! I love plants and have plenty of experience as to which are best suited to each type of location. Again I will talk to you about your preferences and discuss colour schemes before proceeding with the plan and talk you through it on completion. If there is a plant you don’t like I will find a substitute that you do.

Plant Supply & Placing

If I do a planting plan I always quote to supply the plants, this includes me coming to lay them out where they should go ready for planting. Usually the cost of the plants including the setting out service is no more than if you were to acquire them yourself from regular nurseries and you don’t have the hassle of running around trying to find the more unusual ones. The plants I supply are of good quality and I can also obtain larger specimens if you want a more immediate impact. If a plant on the plan turns out to be unavailable I can select an appropriate substitute that still fits within the overall scheme.

Maintenance schedule

Once the garden is constructed and planted you need to keep it looking beautiful. A maintenance schedule will tell you what you, or your gardener, need to do to which plants when to retain the garden’s beauty as it matures.

Furniture & Ornament Sourcing
Benches, chairs, tables, loungers, fountains, pots, sculptures, sundials, bird feeders … if it’s garden related I’ll help you to find it! Of course a lot of people like to do this themselves and just need pointing in the right direction but if you are really busy this could be a useful service.

Relaxing & Enjoying your Garden

That’s the bit you have to do yourself! Hopefully all the stages above will have made it really easy!

Garden Design Portfolio

Client Testimonials

Miriam designed our gardens to suit our specific needs…both of us are into our 8th decade! She did so exactly and completed the project on time and to our budget! We bought a derelict end of terrace cottage of which the front and rear lawned gardens had not been tended for some years. Our requirements were for largely paved areas surrounded by shrubs and flowers to provide colour, scents and interest throughout the year. We wanted the rear garden to be an extension of our living room which opens directly onto it and the front garden to provide hard standing for car parking without our car dominating the front of our home. Above all we wanted it to be 'low maintenance. Miriam achieved all of our objectives which included attractive border fencing, a water feature, Summer House and division of the rear garden by a living divider into two ‘rooms’. As a result of her clever grading of the front garden and the maturing of the shrubs and plants which she selected 6 years ago, the parked car is hardly noticeable! The gardener we have employed since spends about half a day each month to tidy up, prune as necessary and replace the odd overgrown or failing plant or shrub. We have recommended Miriam to friends who have been delighted with her services.

Miriam Book designed our front garden, using plants that would make the most of the space and that were appropriate for the soil and salty air. Consequently, the garden is thriving and we have had a lot of positive comments from visitors and passers-by! We are very pleased with the design and would not hesitate to recommend Miriam.

I am delighted to confirm that some five years ago, you landscaped my substantial garden and the design was so effective that we have had numerous comments about the quality of the layout. The pleasure it gives is enormous and the garden is one which we could proudly present to the public and probably should open during the Summer Garden Openings for charity. The plants have taken well, and the garden looks so established that it is amazing how quickly the plants have integrated. I thank you so much for your design which has given us great pleasure

Miriam transformed my garden from a banal, uninteresting, colourless patch into a magical place that brings the family endless pleasure. She changed the shape of the lawn, creating concealed paths for the children to explore as well as making a space that is pleasing to the eye. She planted a variety of shrubs which are easy to maintain and which provide different colours, textures and sizes throughout the year. I am always excited when Spring arrives as it means endless happy hours in our beautiful garden. Being an amateur gardener, it is reassuring to speak to Miriam as she is ready to advise, help or just calm my insecurities. The garden has been much admired by friends, but more importantly provides the family with a peaceful refuge. It is constantly evolving with Miriam’s help, which means there are still unexpected pleasures in store. Miriam’s detailed plans and her reasonable fees are an additional attraction!

Miriam Book redesigned my garden 5 years ago. Her design was innovative and very user friendly, she listened exactly to my wishes and ideas. The garden has now matured, the pond is a haven for wildlife, as well as fish, and the whole garden is beautiful to look at, and we love it! I would thoroughly recommend her to anyone considering using her services, she is extremely professional, and her designs are excellent!

We moved into a house five years ago where the garden was in a terrible condition. It fact this could have been one of the reason why we might not have bought the house, but we did, and the garden was an enormous challenge. We called on a few garden designers, none of which had an answer. We were recommended to Miriam Book.Miriam presented us with a design which was clever and attractive and dealt with all the difficulties. The garden is exquisitely planted and has matured beautifully and we get a lot of pleasure out of it.

“Miriam designed an imaginative and interesting garden for us which has given all members of our family endless pleasure throughout the year – such a change from the boring rectangle of lawn and narrow flower borders that we used to have.”

Garden Design - Pricing

This is the page you won’t find on a lot of garden designers websites!

That’s because it is very difficult to give an answer.

The variables affecting design price are:

When I come to see you and have assessed your garden and your wishes I will be able to give you a clear idea as to what my charges will be for the different design services you require. These will be given to you, in writing, before you commit to any expenditure. It will be very clear as to what each item includes.

All design work charges include alterations and amendments needed to hone the design until it meets your brief to your complete satisfaction.

The “starts from” cost of a concept plan for a very small, very simple garden is £300.

Garden Design FAQs

Why should I use a garden designer?

For the same reasons you would use an architect to design your house: to get a professional end result. A garden designer will help you to achieve a unique garden that works for you and can be built to the budget you have set. You will avoid expensive mistakes and will get expert and experienced advice from how big a patio you need to what materials to use to which plant will grow in that awkward corner. By having a proper plan and specification you can get comparable quotes from contractors and get the best job done for your money.

What should I do before I arrange for you to come for a consultation?

Although I will talk to you at length as to what you do or do not want in your garden it is helpful if you have thought about this in advance and discussed your wishes with all the people who will use the garden. Cuttings from magazines or pictures in books of gardens you like can establish the style you wish for. I will need to know if there are any planning constraints…are you in a conservation area or are any trees subject to Protection Orders? Please also think about the budget for the garden project.

I’m thinking of having an extension or conservatory built and then want to have my garden landscaped. When should I contact you?

When you are having the designs for the extension drawn up it is a really good idea to think about the garden simultaneously. If the new building is going to affect access to the garden then it would be a good idea to get the garden designed and built at the same time or before the new extension. Poor access can significantly increase the cost of building a garden. Also once you have machinery in to dig foundations for any building it will save costs to use it for any parts of the garden where earth moving or excavations are planned whilst it is on site.

I want to have my garden designed and built now but might want to have a conservatory or extension built in a few years time. Will I need another design then?

If you have plans for the extension done before the garden is designed then the garden plans can allow for the new building. The new garden will work for both the existing house and for the future addition.

My local Planning Committee wants me to submit a plan for their approval. How should I proceed?

I am used to working with Planning Committees and producing plans which meet their approval. This situation usually occurs if the garden and/or house are being substantially altered, if there is a change of use of the land or if you live in a conservation area. It is important for us to talk to the planners before a design is done to understand the local restrictions. Then there should not be a problem in getting the plans passed. Of course if a redraw is necessary this is included in the cost of the design as long as I have been given all the relevant information to begin with.

I am out at work all day when can you come to talk about my garden

I will find a time to come and see your garden and talk to you that fits with your schedule. I often find it is necessary to visit busy clients in the evenings or at weekends and am happy to accommodate this.

I have a very small garden. Are you prepared to do a design for it?

Of course. The smaller your garden the more important it is to make sure you maximise the use and impact of every square metre. I have the knowledge and experience to help you get the best from your space.

What if I only want a partial design? Or just a planting plan?

I do both partial designs and planting plans for existing or new beds.

When is a good time to commission a design?

You can start the process at any time of year.

How long does it take to get a design done?

After I have seen you for the initial consultation I will send you a written quotation for the design work within 3 days. Once you have accepted the quotation and I have done the survey (or one has been done if the garden is very large) it is usually about 3-4 weeks before the first draft of the design is brought for your approval. Alterations, unless they are extensive, can be done within a week. Construction drawings and Specifications are then done as quickly as possible to enable you to go out to tender for the garden build and whilst this is happening the planting plan(s) is/are done.

hat if I don’t like the design you come up with?

As long as you haven’t altered the brief I will redraw as many times as is necessary to create a design you are happy with….no extra charge.

Do you have a particular garden style?

In a word – no. It’s not my garden….it’s yours, and it needs to fit with your style and taste and the style and materials of the house. If a garden is large then formality may be wanted near the house and informality further away. Some clients ask me for flowing lines and curves, others want straight lines and a more modern feel. I enjoy the challenge of meeting all their requirements and try very hard to produce unique designs suitable for person and place.

Do you help us decide what types of hard landscaping materials to use?

Yes, I suggest materials appropriate to the design and setting and obtain samples for your approval.

What happens if I can’t afford to have my entire garden built at once?

Having an overall design will enable you to build your garden in stages and end up with an end product that harmonises as well as if it had all been done at once.

Who builds the garden?

I will help you to find a contractor to build the garden.

Can we do any of the work ourselves?

Absolutely! Any or all of it that you want to or feel able to. I can still help with construction drawings and am always available for advice.

Where can I get the plants you have suggested?

I always quote to supply the plants for any planting plans I do. If I do I always come to check the plants and place them in position for planting. Some clients enjoy using the internet or local suppliers to track them down themselves. If larger plants and trees are required then some clients enjoy coming with me to specialist nurseries to choose them themselves.

Who plants the garden?

Your gardener, the contractor or you but I usually place them in position for planting to get the spacing right.

How long will it be before the planting in my garden starts to mature?

This can depend on the size of plants used to start with but usually herbaceous plants will fill their allocated space within a couple of years. Trees and shrubs can take a bit longer But if the soil has been well prepared the garden will look good very quickly.

How do I keep the garden looking good once it has been built and planted?

I am happy to provide a maintenance schedule explaining what should be done to which plants when
I can also come back once a year (or as often as you want) to discuss the garden’s progress and make recommendations as to any action required.