Gardenproud Blog

Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

A Contemporary Garden in Mayfield

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

A short while ago we were lucky enough to be handed the challenge that a lot of landscapers would relish. A blank canvas. Well nearly. A new contemporary housing development close to Tunbridge Wells that didn’t offer it’s customers a ready made garden solution. So music to our ears!

The garden had a very poor quality lawn that ran into a clay slope featuring a number of decaying trees. One redeeming feature was the stunning view that led across fields to woodland and hills beyond and this was something the customer wanted to enhance. In addition to this our client wanted to create a level lawned area their growing family could enjoy, plus an adult/entertaining area that would allow them to enjoy the sun and the view.

We created a series of design options for the client that achieved their goals and worked with the contemporary nature of the house. This was a joint design exercise between Gardenproud designers Tim Sykes and Paula Beresford.

Our first task was to gain permission to undertake some urgent tree works, which was duly approved. Then we set upon tweaking the landscape to provide the client with their level lawn area, and to enhance the garden shape which would allow us to progress the rest of our scheme.

The upper garden has as its focal point a beautiful oak tree, sitting in the centre of a new oval lawn. Bordering it’s sides are herbacious borders with two stunning zinc coated garden benches facing each other.

A circular tree bench surrounds the oak tree.

To take account of the drop in levels and to reflect the curves of the tree seat and oval lawn, a curved wall was created with two flights of steps leading to a lower, less formal garden area.

This lower garden flows into the woodland below and will feature planting that integrates with the more natural surroundings beyond. The lower garden is also the setting for a decking entertainment area and woodland pathways leading to a lower circular platform. These lower pathways and platform use a bark surface, again designed to merge with the woodland environment.

The decking surface floats on a subframe which appears almost at ground level, but is two steps below the upper pathway.

A new curved sleeper wall creates an interesting addition to the decking surface and supports a narrow side bed.

The decking surface leads to two stepped bark pathways that lead to a lower platform.

Pre-planting the whole scheme is really starting to come together and already represents a dramatic transformation to suit the contemporary surroundings….

The finished result is stunning and we hope will give the client many years enjoyment. We look forward to the next stage which will involve the planting scheme.

For further details of Gardenproud’s design capability and landscaping services please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820

Prague Castle Gardens

Monday, September 2nd, 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013, by Tim Sykes, Gardenproud

We’ve just returned from visiting Prague.
There are a number of gardens to see here, but one I recommend is attached to the world famous Prague Castle situated in Prague 1.
Prague Castle dates back to the 9th century, it was originally the residence of Bohemian princes and rulers, and since 1918 the seat of the president. It is one of the largest castles in the whole of Europe.
The guides warn you about the amount of time you need to dedicate to a Castle visit. With visits of c 4 – 5 hrs often suggested. We only had 3 hrs, so decided to not join one of the guided tours. Instead planning our own tour. Suffice to say the Castle complex is so vast we nearly spent 4.5 hrs there!
The Castle stands high above the City commanding superb views.
If you are walking, cross over the Charles Bridge then up the cobbled streets until you reach the steps. The steps, don’t attempt these unless you are feeling fit! You can take the tram to the top. The number 22 or 18 tram will get you up there.
Alternatively take a taxi ride. It was a sunny morning so we walked. I didn’t count how many hundred steps there were but the views of the city were breathtaking(not that we had any breath to take by then)!
One of the highlights you must see at the Castle is the St Vitus Cathedral. The stained glass windows are incredible. They are vast (as is the Cathedral) and so beautiful.
Not surprisingly, an attraction for me were the Royal Gardens. These were originally created by the last crowned Czech king, Ferdinand V.  He chose Prague Castle as his residence upon his abdication in 1848. Apart from music he was
especially interested in nature.
Ferdinand V and his wife, Maria Anna of Sardinia
Having learned about botany in his youth he remained interested in gardens and following his move to the Castle he became interested in the strip of land above the Deer Moat. He rented this land together with a small garden house and farm buildings. He had 3 greenhouses, one of which was devoted to growing camillias, another to rhododendrons and azaleas.
A new feature of the Royal Gardens is the Orangery. This is a futuristic looking piece of prize-winning architecture.
The Orangery features a computer controlled environment designed to create just the right climate for the many tropical plants that flourish inside. Lemon and Lime trees, palms, yuccas, phormiums, figs and orange trees all thrive in the humid climate.
Outside the gardens feature some remarkable garden buildings including the Queen Anne Summer Palace, adorning Czech statues and plasterwork typical of the Prague landscape.
There are formal and semi formal areas reminiscent of park landscapes.
We travelled to Prague with Easyjet, and stayed in the Barcelo Hotel in Prague 5. This was very good. If you go treat yourself to a Junior Suite. There is also a Barcelo in the City Centre, currently being refurbished. Maybe worth a look on our next visit!
For information about the Prague Castle Gardens see Also see more about Barcelo Hotels at If you are visiting Prague for the first time make sure you pre-book a taxi transfer. We used Prague Airport Transfer, booked through Easyjet. They were very good.
For further information about Gardenproud contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820

King Charles Summer Fete – Plants Stall Blossoms

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

By Tim Sykes,

Well it’s time to enjoy The King Charles the Martyr Summer Fete!

Along with Richard Still gardener supremo at King Charles I ran the plant stall today (Saturday 15th June). Here’s Richard pictured with the famous Tunbridge Wells Town Crier who opened the Fete.

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our stall was set amongst the flourishing gardens at the Church Hall, tended with loving care by Richard.

We were lucky enough to have a whole host of plants donated to us by members of the congregation. Salvias, Courgettes, Geraniums, Cosmos, Japanese Blood Grass, Bamboo, Squash and Ophiopogon were among the wide range of species on sale.

A box of assorted French Marigolds

Some beautiful Red Salvias.

It was a really successful event enjoyed by all.

We look forward to next years event.

For further information about events at King Charles the Martyr check out their website at

Music drives her passion for Garden Design!

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Paula Beresford has recently joined the Gardenproud Design Team.

“Paula brings a fresh perspective to our work, I’m particularly keen to harness her talents in developing a more contemporary style for a number of our clients”, comments Gardenproud Director Tim Sykes.

Paula’s career started as a Contracts Manager in Local Government. This gave her an excellent grounding in project management and real insight into the client/supplier relationship.

After a number of years working on Government contracts, she decided it was time to change gear and follow her heart.

She wanted to fuse her love of gardens with her passion for the Arts.

So Paula signed herself up for a BA (Hons) Garden Design at Hadlow College and Greenwich University, which she passed with flying colours!

She has subsequently worked with several landscaping companies designing and project managing garden projects, both domestic and commercial. Her past work has included contemporary garden designs such as these……..

Always creative, Paula earlier dabbled in Interior design and made blinds, soft furnishings and glass Terrariums.

She also plays the piano, having taken lessons between the ages of 5 and 40!

“Whilst having piano lessons, my teacher used to get me to explain what I could see and feel whilst hearing or playing a piece of music, and it was invariably a beautiful landscape, sometimes rolling hills or water, but sometimes it would be an intimate courtyard garden or a small space. I often play music when I design gardens as it gives me inspiration, particularly classical pieces by composers such as Rachmaninov and Beethoven. I feel that there is a real connection between sound and the landscape and love to create this with water or the rustling of grasses in the wind, which give garden spaces another dimension.

My parents have lived in Spain for years and so I have had plenty of experience working in a Mediterranean garden, and understanding the different requirements for the plants. They seem to grow in rock hard soil that we would not even consider trying to plant, and they have flowers virtually all year, it is incredible.”

As part of her degree, Paula studied Historic Garden conservation and the History and Philosophy of Garden Design which gave her a real understanding of how the various styles of gardens have evolved over the centuries.

“Which other Degree course would have given me the opportunity to visit Tate Modern and Versailles, see VanGoghs at the Kroller-Muller museum and wander around Parc Citroen in Paris, to broaden my understanding of all aspects of art and design, the use of colour, materials and scale?”

For further information about Paula’s work and for a free design consultation contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820.

Lamb House – Home of Henry James

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Lamb House was built in 1723 by James Lamb, an important citizen of Rye and 13 times mayor. The house remained in the family until 1864.

The author Henry James who fell in love with the house then took on a lease in 1898 and lived there until his death in 1916. The house and gardens were to provide the quiet and peaceful retreat from which he wrote many of his novels from a garden house in the grounds (this was destroyed in an air raid on 18th August 1940), including The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.

The writer E.F.Benson, an admirer of James, came to live in the house after Henry James died. He shared the tenancy with his brother (also a writer) famous for having written the words to Elgar’s ” Land of Hope and Glory”. E.F. Benson went onto live in the house until his death in 1940.

Today the house and gardens are looked after by The National Trust. If you are staying at The Mermaid or one of the other superb hotels and guest houses in Rye, Lamb House is conveniently placed and definitely worth a visit!

Despite having no prior knowledge ( ” I am hopeless about the garden, which I don’t know what to do with and shall never, never know – I am densely ignorant.”), Henry James secured the help of a friend Alfred Parsons – a landscape gardener, to help create a beautiful walled garden, leading from a pair of french doors on one side of the house.

The layout of the garden is much the same as in James’s time with a large sweeping lawn, various flower beds, shrubs and a rose garden and kitchen garden situated behind an attractive trellis supporting climbing roses.

Various attractive benches adorn the grounds acting as resting and focal points…

Other features added by Henry James to the house and garden help give a unique perspective and charm..

At the back of the shrubbery, in the South-West corner of the garden, you can still see the dog cemetery where he buried many of his favourite dogs.

James’s favourite Mulberry tree was blown down in a gale, this has now been replaced and he’d be very pleased to note is bearing lots of fruit!

The gardens were a delight…

When you consider this oasis sat within the beauty of Rye, you can easily understand how the setting gave Henry James so much inspiration for his great works.

Lamb House, house and gardens are open from 24th March to 27th October, Tuesday and Saturdays, 2 – 6pm ( last admissions 5.30pm). For further information see The National Trust website at and

Frosty Formality in Tunbridge Wells

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Frosty Formality

A warm welcome awaits you when you meet Peter Brown at his gallery – The Pantiles Edge Gallery in Tunbridge Wells. “Frosty Formality” just happens to be the title of one of his unique paintings.

Gallery owner and local artist Peter has developed a captivating approach to depicting the “English Country Garden.”

His background in design shows through in the highly graphical and almost surreal interpretations of garden landscapes.

Here are a few more examples…..


Unrequited Love

The Secret Rose Garden

You can meet Peter and see more from this series of paintings at the gallery which is situated in 2 Nevill Street, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tn2 5TT. Or visit the website at and click on Artists “Peter Brown.”

Floral Pictures by Carolyn Towers Wood

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Agapanthas 47 x 57 cm oil and oil pastel, pale wood frame

From 2000 to 2002 Carolyn studied painting with the Open College of Arts and its tutor John Hicks. She also studied 20th century British artists and she says, “particular artists who were of interest to me!”

Her passion for learning and improving her techniques continues in the short courses and workshops with experienced artists she attends regularly.

Carolyn’s main areas of interest are colour, pattern and texture. She works with oils, acrylics and mixed media, usually on a surface which she has built up with collage and gels.

Her work has been exhibited in many shows throughout the south and south-west of England and in 2008 and 2009 she took part in the Hampshire and West Berkshire Open Studios scheme. In November 2009 an article appeared in “Picture Review” magazine promoting her work.

Carolyn’s paintings have been purchased by private collectors in the UK, France, Germany and the USA.

We are now delighted to offer a select group of Carolyn’s floral and landscape paintings through Gardenproud. They retail from £180, plus despatch.

Lilies with cherries 48 x 57cm oils and oil pastel, gold frame

To obtain a pdf of this selection of her paintings please contact us at:

Special offer to Gardenproud Customers – Botanical Print collections from Russell Rare Prints

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

F.E. Hulme – Cactus, published c 1879, image size 10.5″ x 8.25″. £9 + delivery

Russell Rare Prints have been dealing in fine and rare original antique prints for over twenty years. Based in Bath they have exhibited at many antique and book fairs in the UK and San Francisco. They have regularly exhibited their vast stock of botanical prints at flower shows including Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court Flower Show, and at Courson, Paris.
The Botantical Collection is now available to Gardenproud customers at an exclusive discount of 10%.
See more about the collections at

and click on the “Botanical” button.

To redeem your 10% discount contact Russell Rare Prints at