view of completed garden

A fragrant garden of local character

I designed this garden for clients with a particular interest in the locally distinctive qualities, customs and traditions that differentiate specific places and cultures. This is not a Georgian garden restoration, but a new garden designed to respect locally distinctive historical precedent, contained within original 19th century sandstone walls.

view of garden before re-design

Steep ground in Edinburgh New Town - an opportunity to create an extraordinary garden

To serve its new owners, this nineteenth century property needed a completely new garden and extensive repairs to the interior. In the garden and inside the house, work progressed with great care to complete this phased two-year project.

view down the completed garden


My design for this steeply sloping garden balances the physical attributes of this particular place - its aspect, underlying geology, steep gradient and soil type, with the preferences of the owners - for historically correct construction with traditional materials, and their desire for a convenient outdoor living space surrounded by fragrant planting.
Traditional skills, carefully sourced materials, superb craftsmanship and fastidious attention to detail have produced a refined, elegant home with a unique, historically relevant garden; comfortable, individualistic, authentic twenty-first century Edinburgh Georgian.

pond with slate and wrought iron table on patio

A garden of place and time

The physical character of the new designed garden is expressed in the particular materials vocabulary of this part of Edinburgh's New Town, in a construction language established in the early 1800's. Details carefully reflect local precedent, researched in nearby streets and buildings. Coursed rubble sandstone with droved ashlar rybats, sawn sandstone paving and paths of horonised whin, all built by local stonemasons, with wrought ironwork by local blacksmiths. When viewed from the large windows of the overlooking rooms, a reference to the hierarchical pattern of the New Town's street-plan may be discovered in the layout of the fragrant garden. This garden is not a 'pastiche' environment assembled from old elements, but a new creation expressed in a long-established idiom. A story of today, told in the local traditional language.

sandstone plinth with figure of a boy, shade planting

Research, context, planting

Initial research visits I made to relevant historic Scottish gardens had yielded contextual insights, suggested possible directions for the garden's design, and its character of planting. Flowering plants were to provide a succession of outdoor fragrance, their scents intensified within the sheltering old stone walls.

view across circular formal garden pond

Plants and planting

Working from my outline planting plans and descriptions of intended plant character, Kevock Garden Plants prepared detailed plant lists for approval, before supplying the plants and planting the garden. Since the garden's completion in 2015, the plants have been in the continuing care of former Kevock employee Alison MacDonald.

garden with agapanthus and roses


This garden serves on many levels, by day and illuminated after dark. The furnished patio invites close-up inspection of the planting around the lower pond. An ascent of the hill offers places to linger, with further details to discover. The circular upper pond with trickling waterfall and aquatic flowers. Alternative pathways, surfaces, seats and carved stonework, with seasonal planting for sunlight and shade. Local heritage apple trees and fragrant roses enveloped by old stonework.

contemporary herb garden

Construction by Conservation Architect and specialist Stonemasons

My design for this conservation area garden included a sandstone storage shed, retaining wall, symmetrical flights of steps and two formal ponds. I introduced the owners to specialist conservation architect Roger Taylor of Tod & Taylor Architects, who obtained the statutory permissions for the new building work. The architect was appointed to project-manage all the construction, carried out by Forbes Davidson Ltd, whose stonemasons produced exemplary garden stonework. At regular site meetings I monitored construction progress to prevent possible design dilution, sourcing specialist hardware and fitting pond equipment as the project progressed.

wrought iron garden table with chairs

Designed garden furniture

Wrought iron garden table topped with honed slate. I designed this table at my client's request to include square, circle and compass rose.
Eight wrought iron chairs with armrests, their details inspired by 19th century garden benches.
Blacksmith Ross Cranston of RGC Fabrication made the wrought iron garden furniture I designed to fit this space.
The honed slate was fitted with great care by experienced local tile-fixer Craig Peebles.

fragrant Edinburgh New Town garden

Garden Completion

Gardens are ever-changing environments of growing and maturing plants, so they are never definitively 'complete'. Here, research, inspired design, specialist skills and attention to detail have combined to create an extraordinary Edinburgh New Town garden expressing its owners' particular interests and values, heady with the fragrance of roses, flowering climbers, and other carefully selected seasonal flowers.

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