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Phillippa Probert

Pip Probert Garden Designer - Outer Spaces Wirral

Young, talented and inspiring, Phillippa Probert is an RHS Gold medal-winning designer who has produced stunning gardens at Tatton Park, Gardeners World, Malvern & Chelsea since 2005.

  • Date Joined: 10 Apr 2008
  • It's Show Time!!!

    Pip Probert on 03 Apr 2015 at 12:25 PM
    It’s that time of the year, yet again… IT’S SHOW TIME!! This year promises to be as exciting and busy as ever. 2015 is the 10th Anniversary of Outer Spaces and we want to mark it in style! Next weekend, we will be packing our tool bags, and making the trip down the to the Three Counties for the first show of the season. The RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival is a wonderful show to be a part of. So early in the season, there are a completely different set of challenges. The first year we went down to Malvern, we ended up with frost damage, and last year we had so much rain it was impossible to move forward at some points during the build. But, this year, we are ready for it… bring on the RAIN, bring on the WIND - WE ARE PREPARED!! ‘Cornerstone’ is a simplistic design, with natural materials and a soft planting palette. I can’t wait to get my hands on those alpines, when we start to construct our 'erratic alpine worktop' (possibly not how I have described it in the client brief - as I am not sure how the judges would interpret that comment!) We will be keeping you up to date via social media and the blog on the trials and tribulations throughout the Malvern Show, so keep looking out for our updates. After Malvern, I jet off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to work as part of the planting team on the L’Occitane Garden. Although I have built my own designs down at Chelsea, it will fantastic working as part of a larger team,on a main avenue garden - can’t wait to smell the fragrances on the garden. Moving on quite quickly up to Edinburgh, where my RBGE Garden Design Diploma students will be building their very first Show Garden. It has been a brilliant project, and the whole team have already made me extremely proud with their organisation of the garden. We are all SO excited to get up there, and show the people of Scotland just what we can do!! With a few things in-between, we will gradually get to the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in July. This is the big one for me, as it is the home show. Ten years ago, me and family rocked up extremely fresh faced in the horticultural world and built our first Back to Back, ‘Simply Stylish’. After winning that Bronze Medal, I have never looked back, and this year we hope to mark the occasion with another medal (although it doesn’t have to be the same colour) ;) If you are visiting any of the shows that we are involved in, PLEASE come and say hello. We always like to meet fellow gardeners, or garden admirers. Have a lovely Easter and hopefully we will see you soon!!


  • Things to Look Forward to in 2015!

    Pip Probert on 03 Mar 2015 at 07:32 PM
    The spring is on its way and we are all starting to think gardens again - Thank goodness, I am very ready for the warm weather to arrive!! We have a busy year ahead with gardens to build at RHS Malvern and RHS Tatton Park where we will be celebrating 10 years of Outer Spaces Garden Design!! I will also be up in Edinburgh with my Garden Design Diploma students from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh whilst they build their very first Show Garden at Gardening Scotland 2015. This will be a great adventure for the both myself and the students and we will be keeping you all updated throughout the build. Today they received the Artisan Award which means they get some money to put towards the project, which is fantastic as they had to compete with all the other garden exhibitors. Next step, gold hopefully! These are just a few of the highlights that we be working on in 2015, so for more information… KEEP WATCHING!!


  • Tatton Park Flower Show - Gold Medal!

    Pip Probert on 03 Aug 2014 at 01:12 PM
    When I last wrote, we were all very excited and raring to go for the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show 2014. In what seems to be no time at all, the show has been and gone along with our beautiful garden ‘The Narrows’. Like a proud parent, I am very happy to announce that we won a GOLD MEDAL at the show!!! Things started off very well with glorious weather that lasted throughout (apart from one welcome, wet, rainy day). Sunshine makes a huge difference to the build process, allowing us to move quickly and materials can be left to go off naturally without being effected by the wet. We started with our pond, deck and raised planter that seemed to fly in rather quickly. This was then followed by the patio area and the home made wooden bench. Within 3 days the majority of the hard landscaping was in!! The fence, which was really our main constructed feature along with the twisted pergola took a little longer to complete. The entire garden was constructed out of Oak, which is a beautiful hard wood that gives a fabulous finish, but it did cause a few problems along the way. After all the posts had been routed, a few broken blades and a very soar shoulder later, (sorry dad!) we got them in the ground. Taking many hands to hold the rails as the fence was erected, this was the most time consuming part of our build – but definitely worth it as it created such a dramatic statement within the finished garden. Once the construction was complete it was up to me to fill the garden with plants, which is the part of the build I love the most. Although the pressure is generally on at this stage, I thrive from the scheme growing and expanding and also the reactions from on looking exhibitors as they take a well-deserved break from their own plots! Listening to comments and gauging whether people agree or disagree with your combinations helps future decisions to be made. I love to use unusual colour schemes in a garden, something that is a little different, or maybe a ‘typical’ combination, but with a twist. This scheme was something I felt would entice the people to look at the garden from the start. It also worked well against the Oak back drop. Reds, oranges and blues are all bold colours and the highlighted hints of yellow freshened the palette. On the morning of judging Toby Buckland and the BBC team, who were ready to start filming, greeted us on the garden! In a state of panic I started to unwrap my furniture and the props we use to make the garden feel lived in. The kind words given by he BBC team, and Toby’s very kind offer of carrying the furniture onto the garden seemed to do the trick. Snapping out of the panic and getting the garden finished ready for filming and judging! A very long, hot day followed as the other designers/landscapers and I wondered round aimlessly, and tried to prepare our stands for the public who would descend the next day. Once the Medals had been awarded, it was time to relax and enjoy the show. Our GOLD MEDAL was totally unexpected and so VERY appreciated, there had to be a little celebrating (of course!!!) The show week was brilliant, the weather held out, the public were fantastic and I gave daily talks in the RHS Grow Talks Theatre. This allowed me to talk to many people about how they could improve their gardens and solve some of the problems they have. Overall the show was a massive success for the Outer Spaces team and now we are back on the Wirral working on various projects. Not only am I working on gardens, designs, exciting school garden projects but I have flowers to create for a large wedding at Ness Botanic Gardens next week. Also my students are starting their 2nd year on the Garden Design Diploma at The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in the next few weeks, so we have to get prepared for the new Gardening Scotland project!! It was great to be able to show some of my students the Tatton Park garden and allow them to see the behind the scenes. (Thanks to those that came down from Scotland – not a short trip!) I better go and get on with it!


  • 'The Narrows' Show Garden - RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

    Pip Probert on 02 Jul 2014 at 08:21 PM
    So far the summer has been very busy thanks to the beautiful weather we have been having (on and off!). So busy in fact that time has flown by and the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show is upon us! My team and I are so excited to get to site and start building our garden. The 2014 Hi-Vis jackets are ready and waiting and passes are stuck onto the vehicles. We are raring to go!! We decided that many of our clients have gardens that are awkward shapes and sizes. Plus they are often the same as all the other gardens in the road, until they have been landscaped. This garden was designed as an example of an average suburban garden. Sometimes they have an unusual shape and are often narrow. Here the plot has been divided into three main spaces. ‘The Narrows’ is suitable for a family allowing them to sit and dine together or each enjoy their own space. Making good use of a long thin plot! The first is calming as the occupant leaves the house, forgetting their problems as the walk over the deck that edges the shallow pond. As they are guided round the area there are numerous flowering combinations to see, including those planted within the wall units. As you enter the next room, a stainless steel sculptural feature greets you. There is a partition fence that pierces the planted border and provides seclusion for the sleeper bench. The lawn is a sufficient size for various activities such as a child’s play area but certainly doesn’t dominate the garden. The third area is totally enclosed by a horizontally slatted fence, and has a matching sculptural feature within the fencing. You enter the space via a ‘twisted’ pergola. This part of the garden is for dining and entertaining with a paved surface and a low raised planter. Climbing plants soften one of the boundaries with planted borders on the other two. “The Narrows” is in the Escape Zone at Tatton Park, plot no ES/191. Come along and say hello!!


  • Blush Garden Build - RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival

    Pip Probert on 21 May 2014 at 08:44 PM
    Well a lot has happened since my last blog. We have been to Malvern, built our garden and returned home with a Silver Gilt Medal!! The show was fantastic… We were living on the site for the duration of the build up, show and breakdown period, which allowed us to really feel a part of RHS community that evolves over the month. The show ground has the most amazing backdrop and to be living at the foot of the Malvern Hills for 4 weeks with the iconic view behind us was truly inspiring! We had lovely neighbours, made lots of new friends and met up with all the old friends, and most importantly our garden was well received by the visitors to the show. Although we had a great time down in Malvern and definitely look back on it with fond memories, we certainly had a tough build! The word ‘jinxed’ springs to mind, in that everything we touched seemed to go wrong. Virtually everything that had been ordered (WELL in advance) and delivered seemed to be broken in delivery meaning that there was a lot of extra work required to put things right! After a 3 week build and working extremely hard to get the garden finished on time, the judging process actually felt like a release. Although not at the time, as that is the point where it becomes to late to change anything (and generally the tears start to trickle!) The judges came round and spent lots of time assessing the garden and discussing the pro’s and con’s, then the nail biting period begins as we await our results. Over night I had convinced myself that we wouldn’t be receiving a medal (– tiredness can be cruel!) But, in the morning we woke up early and walked up to the garden to prepare for the visitors, and there on the table was the medal. Running onto the garden to find a lovely big, shiny Silver Gilt Medal drove me to tears yet again! We had worked hard on this garden and all the struggling and problems we had solved to get to this point made the long hours worth it. From this point in, we could totally enjoy the show, and we definitely did! I got to meet the lovely James Martin and guide him round my garden, Joe Swift came for our regular show chat and also Carole Klein came over for photos on the garden. Overall the whole process was a big success and we had built a garden that we were proud of. Once the soul-destroying task of breaking the garden down was complete, we drove home talking about the last 4 weeks we had spent in Malvern and also planning the next one! After coming home and getting back into the real world, we immediately started working on a private garden. We have a few projects to get on with now and then we will start the whole process again but this time at Tatton Park, our home show. Can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into that! Stay tuned for a picture of the Tatton Park garden.


  • Blush Garden - RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival

    Pip Probert on 04 Apr 2014 at 09:41 AM
    I haven’t written anything for a while, as with most people, life takes over and then a month has passed us by! We have had a really busy couple of months with lots of private gardens, planting schemes and also continued work for public areas at one of the local universities. Plus, my students at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have been keeping me on my toes with their projects and course work. With all that going on it is hard to believe that it is time for us to pack our bags ready for the first show of the year, RHS Malvern Spring Garden Festival, at the Three Counties Showground. Everything is booked, order and waiting to be delivered. Various parts of the garden have been built back home ready to make the journey south. Our garden is called ‘Blush’ and is designed as an urban retreat, somewhere to sit and relax to escape the stress of everyday life. The colour scheme of browns, pinks and purples are attractive and soothing. As you enter the plot via stepping-stones over a pond, you are greeted by planting on either side. The path leads you into the centre of the space, which is a seating area enclosed by rendered walls at three different heights. Coloured glass panels are set into the wall adding artistic flare. In the seating area there is a feature wall consisting of living wall planters and also a central water wall. The water runs down the wall and through the centre of a decorative table, it then disappears into the paving to reappear in the shallow pond at the entrance to the garden. A sculptural piece forming a ‘ball’ shape is located at the front of the garden set within the planting. This shape is then echoed throughout the space with box balls. We start building on the 14th April and look forward to spending a month in Malvern creating the Blush garden; hopefully we will see you there 8-11th May 2014. We still have a project to complete before we go to Malvern, for Barnstondale Activity Centre on the Wirral where we are creating a children’s garden and nature trail, which will be constructed in phases and have all manor of exciting features. Best get a move on!!


  • Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - July

    Pip Probert on 10 Aug 2013 at 07:28 PM
    Another late blog I'm afraid, but this time of year is really busy for us! July started with our private jobs being wrapped up, and then we were off to RHS Tatton Park! This was going to be the last show garden we built in 2013 in association with Digby Stone. So although I was really excited, I was hoping the time wouldn't go too quickly! After measuring up the site, it was time to drive down to RHS Hampton Court Flower Show for a sneak preview of the competition down South. It was a glorious day, and I left feeling really excited about the garden we were beginning to construct back home. At Tatton, the sun was shining and everything was going great! The pond had been dug and the Splash Pool quickly formed. The design was fairly simple to construct but the planting took quite a while to complete as it was very detailed. Overall we finished with time to tweak, clean the paving and do all the extra jobs that sometimes get forgotten. On the morning of judging the sun was shining and everyone was very nervous, although I think I made the 'first timers' worse (for which I am truly sorry!) I just get so nervous when we are judged, it seems to rub off on everyone else. The BBC soon took my mind off things, for as soon as the judges were off the garden, the BBC started to film! Overall the show was a huge success and our Silver Gilt Medal winning garden was extremely popular with the public. The sun shone throughout the whole of the show, apart from the 1 hour 'Sell Off' period. Thunder and lighting may have cleared the sky, but it also cleared the show ground. Suddenly it was time to break the garden down and re-enter the real world! Sad it is all over now, but I am excited about the possibilities that next year will bring. Now we are back working on a full range of designs, planting plans and builds. Also there is only a few weeks left until the NEW Garden Design Diploma starts at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. I have already been up there for some final preparations and the students are really looking forward to starting the course. So keep watching for more info!


  • Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - May/June 2013

    Pip Probert on 22 Jun 2013 at 05:36 PM
    Well as usual I haven't had time to write as regularly as I had hoped! If you have been visiting the various shows you will realise why. Since coming home from Malvern and fitting in all of our private clients, there was simply no time to stop and reflect on the 'Solar Chic' Show Garden! We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the RHS Malvern Spring Flower Show and hope to be going back there next year. Things very quickly progressed onto the next few projects, and somewhere in-between I had chance to visit the Chelsea Flower Show. I go every year to Chelsea either to work or simply enjoy the gardens, and this year the atmosphere was fantastic! 2013 brought the 100th Anniversary of Chelsea Flower Show and all the exhibitors were at their best. Sadly there wasn't much time for me to fully absorb the Chelsea Experience as I had to rush home and carry on with my own projects. The month began with a trip up the the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. We are really working hard in getting everything ready for the New Garden Design Diploma which is due to start in September. I am so excited about the course, and every time I visit the gardens I am inspired by the wonderful surroundings. This is something I know the students on the Diploma Course will benefit from and hopefully give them endless inspiration for their assignments. Whilst up in Edinburgh I also visited Gardening Scotland, which was nice for me look round a show I have not been involved in. It allows you to look at the exhibits properly and take everything in, rather than a 'fly be' look at the gardens and the occasional 'pit stop' in the floral marque to bag a few bargains! (I shouldn't tell porky's on the internet, as I may get found out. So... I should probably admit that they are NOT ''occasional pit stops'' to buy plants, but numerous visits to the growers area!) Anyway, I think that when we take the students to Gardening Scotland at the end of the course, we will be able to showcase some great design ideas!! Straight from Edinburgh down to Birmingham where we built a 9x9m Show Garden at the NEC, Gardener'sWorld Live 2013. What glorious weather!! We built the garden in the most amazing conditions, lots of glorious sun. We had a couple of timing issues during the build, and ended up a little close to the wire in terms of time, (but that comes with working away from home). It doesn't help that these show gardens tend to swallow plants, and leave us always needing 'just a few more!' Although the last few days resulted in me surviving on roughly 4hrs sleep… we got to the finish line, on time! The garden looked fantastic and the visitor feedback was amazing. Our Silver Medal was well deserved and the show visitors really appreciated the garden, finding it easy to picture it in their own space at home. I have to say a huge thank you to Digby Stone for sponsoring the garden and their beautiful Sandblasted Sandstone Paving which was so popular. You have been perfect customers through out. Also Brentwood Moss Nursery for putting up with my plant demands, Gaze Burvill for their gorgeous pots and furniture and also Gardeners World Building Supplies who provided all the materials that you don't see but can't build the garden without! This week we have knocked down the garden at Gardeners World Live and re-entered the real world! Back to work on my private projects, with lots of designs, planting plans and a whole garden construction to try and finish before we have to leave for Tatton Park! I have visited the nursery this morning to discuss all the plants we need and make sure we are on track for July. Plus, this afternoon brought on a trip to Arley Hall Garden Fair where I picked up a few bargains, and ended up extending my Tatton Park plant list… because I just can't resist a new variety! Summer is when us horticulturists don't stop, making the most of the season and trying to visit all the different gardens, shows and still keep on top of our own plot! Try and come to RHS Tatton Park Flower Show as it will be the last one we will be constructing a garden at this season, and it always worth the trip!


  • Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - April/May 2013

    Pip Probert on 15 May 2013 at 02:03 PM
    As usual I promised to blog throughout the build and something happens that stops me from being able to post anything. Sadly down here in Malvern, I don't have an internet signal where I am staying and limited signal on the Showground. So I haven't been able to keep you up to date with what's been going on. The month started in quite a frantic rush, ensuring we had finished as much of the work we had on before leaving for Malvern. Plus I needed to leave the men set up and ready to continue on various jobs whilst I was away. I started the month with a few days up in Edinburgh at the Royal Botanic Gardens continuing to work on the New Garden Design Diploma. Whilst I was there we also had an open evening to introduce all the Diplomas, Short Curses and RHS courses that RBGE run. It was a an insight into what the students were looking for and I met a few of the potential students before the course starts in September! Things are moving quickly now as we finalise the information and scheduling side of things! Then it was straight down to RHS Malvern Flower Show to start building the Solar Chic Garden with Digby Stone. I can honestly say that this was the smoothest build we have ever had! There were no major concerns or traumas throughout the whole process... Well, until the wind arrived last week. It's been a great show and a really friendly environment as the family joined me on site at the Three Counties Showground. Even Frank the dog was able to accompany us during the build, and he thoroughly enjoyed coming to work every day. In fact he looked a bit miserable having to stay at home whilst the show was on. From start to finish we have really enjoyed our time at the Malvern show, and worked hard to get our Silver Medal!! The public seem to love the garden and everything about it from the beautiful Solar Granite Paving from Digby Stone, the Art Panels made by Susan Bradley, the Gaze Burvill Furniture and the Photinia Parasol Trees supplied by Brentwood Moss Nursery. So all in all, the show has been a massive success! I can't really believe how the time has flown since my last monthly update, and I have another very busy month coming up!


  • RHS Malvern Flower Show - Solar Chic; Update 2

    Pip Probert on 28 Apr 2013 at 09:06 AM
    This past week has seen glorious sun, viscous wind, rain and hail stones. So just the typical Showground weather, that us designers come to expect! We started on Monday morning full of enthusiasm and raring to go. Malvern is slightly different to the other shows as it has a long build up compared to some of the others and so I have been worried about getting to relaxed with timing. I designed this garden so that there would not be too much hard landscaping to do on site, and I could concentrate on the planting. (This is partly due to my selfish love of planting, so that there is lots for me to do! And, the fact that we are away from home, things needed to be kept simple.). So, this week has been about taking our time in preparing all the paved areas, building the raised planter and levelling the plot. The ivy panel hedges took a while to put up with harsh winds making life quite difficult. The panels blew over in the night at the beginning of the week, which prompted more supports and hidden ties. Malvern has a beautiful show ground and we have all really enjoyed the show so far. Monday brings the Digby Stone paving, which will be laid on prepared beds, which will be an exciting day as it will be the first finished material to go down. Then the plants will start trickling in Monday onwards, which I REALLY can't wait for!! Keep watching for more posts on our Malvern Show Garden!


  • RHS Malvern Flower Show - Solar Chic Update 1

    Pip Probert on 21 Apr 2013 at 12:42 PM
    Well, we are finally on site at the RHS Malvern Spring Flower Show! It is a great set up and a very friendly show, with beautiful surroundings. So far we have only had two days on site and they have been fairly cold and a bit wet at times. Most of what we have done is marking out and setting up the items that were made in advance, so lots of prebuilt wooden planters. I love it when all the materials arrive, it is like emptying a box of jigsaw pieces and starting to put them in piles ready to begin! So far we have the lush ivy panels on site, all our building materials and the beautiful Digby Stone Solar Granite. There are still a few more pieces of the jigsaw to arrive, but we are ready to move forward quickly when we get to site in the morning. Just a short post for today, as I have only come home for more tools and we are heading off back down to Malvern this afternoon! Keep looking out for more posts as we build are 'Solar Chic' Show Garden at #rhsmalvern.


  • Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - March 2013

    Pip Probert on 05 Apr 2013 at 07:30 PM
    Well March was a very strange month for us, as it was for most people! With lots of onsite work we were hoping that Spring might have arrived early, but sadly not. This time last year, we had glorious weather and we were making the most of it before the 'never ending' winter set in about May/June! We are getting much busier again now after the winter months and are working on various private gardens doing all sorts of jobs. This ranges from a 'Spring Makeover Day' which we offer to customers who have had a complete garden transformation built by us. Through to planted borders, ponds, sunken gardens and terraced patios… all sorts of different styles, which is why I love designing private gardens! Each customer wants a completely unique space that reflects them, their house and their hobbies. Some of my designs may have a similar feature or material from time to time, but each one so VERY different! I am also designing various planting schemes for all types of areas, shaded, coastal and aquatic which again gives lots of room for researching new plants to add to my 'inbrain database'. I love designing for a bog garden, as there are so many plants can be used that many people don't think of. Also with the coastal borders, it is quite a challenge to create a beautiful scheme with lots of interest that will withstand the harsh winds! I have also been spending a lot of time with Hazel at Allturf, Allostock as we look at renovating the 'Green Garden' at Liverpool Hope University. This large grassed area proves to be a challenge in many ways. Surrounded on all sides by the library, offices and lecture rooms. All the materials, turf and plants will need to be transported via the beautiful building with its wooden corridors into the internal quad. Yet we are confident it can be done! As the time has been flying by, I have also been writing my schedules and course notes for the New Garden Design Diploma at The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The course is due to start in September 2013, and so all the finishing details are going into putting the course together. I have spent my time relearning everything I was taught when I was studying - You can never be over prepared. I think the hardest part is to remember the things that you personally take for granted, that other people don't instinctively know until they have been taught. If you are interested in learning more about the Garden Design Diploma, there is an Open Evening where you can discuss the course with me and the other lectures on the 16th April. (So check out the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh website for more details) It's hard to believe but we are also starting on site at the RHS Malvern Spring Flower Show in a weeks time!! This month has seen the completion of all risk assessments, forms and details in preparation for the show. We also took a trip down to Digby Stone to collect some samples of the gorgeous Solar Granite Paving that we will be using at the show. I think we are virtually ready to leave now, and move into our lovely cottage for a month whilst we see the show through. Although I feel prepared in one way, I am worried sick about the plants! We are including various different plants in the scheme, but the tulips are scaring me the most! Fingers crossed, they will be flowering ready for all the visitors coming round the show (oh, and the judges!) All that's left now is to collect the new uniforms and pack the van! Although the weather has had a massive knock on effect for our work, you can't help but love the snow! I was very honoured to have a private sneak peek around Ness Gardens and I got the chance to take lots of amazing snowy photos of the gardens along with my 'Making Waves Garden'… which looked great with its white frothy peaks! Now I have a wide select of snow pictures, I have to request that we move onto Spring so that my tulips are flowering in time for Malvern. (Totally selfish, but it is very important!) If you would like to see some pictures of my garden at RHS Tatton Park 2012, you can pick up a copy of the New Digby Stone Catalogue. It has lots of images from last years garden 'A Taste of Ness', and also the much admired Polished Sandstone Patio! Look out for my Show Garden Blog Posts, as I am going to try and keep you all up to date with what's happening on site via Blog, Twitter and Facebook. There should be lots of photos to see to!


  • A Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - February 2013

    Pip Probert on 28 Feb 2013 at 04:06 PM
    Well, it is the end of February and it is still freezing cold! It has been an eventful month working with lots of new people and things are already getting very busy. Early February saw my first tutoring weekend at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. My Short Course was called 'Design Your Dream Garden' and allowed the students to learn the basic principles of garden design, and also how to start planning their plot. We covered various styles and themes, available materials and how to put their ideas down on paper. We then went on to design their individual garden spaces. All the students had great ideas for the different plots they were working on, which really varied! We also had time for a quick wander round the gardens, with the snow covered peaks in the distance, along with Edinburgh Castle. You can find more details on the RBGE website and even book onto next years courses. Also we have started planning the NEW Garden Design Diploma for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which we will be able to give more information on at a later date. So keep watching! I have also given a few talks at various events, including Ness Botanic Gardens where I enlightened the Friends of Ness of the trials and tribulations of building the 'Making Waves Garden'. February has also brought further changes at Ness and I am looking forward to seeing the garden evolve through the year! We have been working on the entrance to the new Library at Liverpool Hope University, which is based on the Moeraki Boulders found on the Koekohe Beach, New Zealand. We have sculptures from the David Harber collection and box balls of all sizes to represent the boulders. This is one of many projects we are working on at the University and so with the new month we move onto a new project. Also this month I have visited the Malvern, Three Counties Show Ground and the Gardener's World Live, NEC to see our plots for the upcoming shows. We are all very excited now, as we are only 6 weeks away from going down to Malvern Flower Show with our sponsor Digby Trading. We are currently starting to build certain features ready to take down with us in April. With various private garden projects on the go we are moving quickly into early spring and look forward to March!


  • Year In The Life Of A Garden Designer - January

    Pip Probert on 13 Feb 2013 at 04:24 PM
    After the interesting year we had in 2012, I thought I would write something every month to describe what we are up to and the new, exciting projects we are working on. January has been a strange month for us a landscapers. The weather effects so many people in lots of different ways. If you work outside you will know exactly what I mean. The jobs we have been working on this month, both private gardens and public spaces have been greatly effected by cold, wind, rain, sleet and snow! What a start to the year! Even smaller jobs have taken a long time to complete, waiting on the correct conditions for putting turf down, planting and even pointing up paving etc. My men and I have worked through the terrible conditions to finish the jobs, even though it meant wearing a few layers of thermals! Site work aside, I have also been working on various designs for the RHS Shows. Working closely with Digby Trading, we hope to be at three shows this coming season. The first being RHS Malvern, which we are currently planning and arranging ready to start work in April. We haven't built a garden at the Malvern Show before and so this will be a new experience for us. We also hope to be at Gardeners World Live and RHS Tatton Park, and you can see my designs on my Outer Spaces website. January also brought lots of preparation work for my short course at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 'Design Your Dream Garden' will be teaching students what needs to be considered when putting designs together and how to draw up the plans. I have boxes of material samples from paving stones to gravel all ready to take up to Edinburgh. Im very excited to start at the Botanics and hope to see some of you up there! Well that was January! February will no doubt bring lots more preparation for the show gardens, so watch this space for the update!


  • Wrapping Up The Summer At Ness Botanic Gardens!

    Pip Probert on 04 Sep 2012 at 08:41 PM

    I never did get round to writing that last post to sum up our Ness Gardens journey. This weekend brings an exciting event to Ness and so it seemed like a good time to reflect. Read More...

  • A Taste Of Ness - Show Garden Update

    Pip Probert on 15 Jul 2012 at 10:31 PM
    As usual I have forgotten to keep on top of my blog, but I am hoping that I can be forgiven with some of the problems we have been dealing with. When we started on site at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show a few weeks ago, things started really well! The holes were dug, the ground levelled and our circular, steel pond was built on site. Friday (day 5), brought terrible rain which seemed to put many people off. We had various jobs we could do under cover and so decided to brave the weather. It is a good job we did!! It was raining so heavily that the steel pond was lifted out of the ground by the excess water, totally dislodging the rest of the construction work we had completed. Thinking that we had no chance of completing the garden in time, we soldiered on! When problems happen over the weekend it is very hard to put them right until Monday morning. Come Tuesday, we had managed to get back on track with the paving and the decking, with the odd dry hour here or there. Followed by our turf wave, which is now the seventh, and probably the last turf wave we will be constructing for a while! I completed the planting today and we have a few odd jobs to sort out tomorrow, but overall things are on track. We have the assessors visiting tomorrow, for their preliminary marking and of course a chat with the designers! Fingers crossed, and wish us good luck for Tuesday Judging.


  • A Taste Of Ness, Show Garden

    Pip Probert on 05 Jul 2012 at 07:53 AM
    Now we are on the finishing details at Ness Botanic Gardens, Making Waves is looking fabulous! The top layer of hoggin will be going on this week and the last piece of turf put down. Every garden takes a little bit of time to adjust, and Making Waves is filling out beautifully. We started on site at the RHS Tatton Park Flower show last Sunday, marking out the plot and most importantly our pond. The weather has already been against us, and the tent has come in handy for sheltering from the rain. We have made the circular, steel pond liner which is now ready for an extra layer of sealant (just to be safe!!) and then painting! The pond is a large part of the show garden, as it symbolises the water on site at Ness Gardens. Today we start on the frame work for our decking which surrounds the pond. If you would like to see what 'A Taste of Ness' is going to look like, you can follow my twitter photos or even the Ness Botanic Gardens Facebook page. You will find lots of pictures of the 'Making Waves' garden, which 'A Taste Of Ness' is sampling for the visitors of the show. It is to give people an idea of what to expect when visiting the evolving Ness Botanic Gardens.


  • Making Waves Garden - Ness Botanic Gardens

    Pip Probert on 28 Jun 2012 at 08:31 PM

    Well, we are nearly finished on site at Ness Botanic Gardens, and it has been pretty hard going!  The weather has really pushed us and the materials to the limit.  The ongoing rain has proved very difficult when planting, moving soil, creating levels, and most importantly forming our turf waves!  Another problem we have incurred on site has been the rabbits.  They have been eating things as quickly as I have planted them.  Apart from the natural problems, we are more or less finished.  The turf waves are being completed, and the hoggin path is going down.  So feel free to visit Ness Botanic Gardens and see the new Making Waves Garden over the next few weeks.



  • Making Waves - Half Way There!

    Pip Probert on 14 May 2012 at 07:36 PM

    Start of week three and we are finally coming at of the ground here at Ness Botanic Gardens.  Due to the design being based on spirals and every line a curve, it has taken us a while get everything set out, post lined up and levels set.  Today the deck has started to take shape and the soil levels have been raised ready for the planting to start.  It’s all very exciting, and the curvaceous nature of the design sparking off lots of interest with the visitors.

    Things will change quickly this week, and I am hoping to start the planting very soon.  Also our turf features are slowly emerging from the ground, with the internal supports going in today. Read More...

  • 'Making Waves' Garden Build

    Pip Probert on 03 May 2012 at 08:15 PM
    We are four days into the build at Ness Gardens, and things are going very well. Last Sunday I looked out the window and thought that the rain would never stop. Monday morning proved difficult with our plot being submerged in water. Even the ducks had settled in the puddles formed by the tracks of our digger! After sorting our levels and marking out the design we were ready to get working. The digger dug out the pond and started to form the pathways, along with lots of earth movement which is typical of the early stages of a build. Today, our pond is really taking shape as the block work goes up, and the unusual shape is starting to cause a stir with the visitors. Our deck has been marked out, and the posts set. Although it is still early days, it looks quite different to the grassed area that we found on Monday morning! We are hoping that tomorrow will bring more shape , as we finish our deck posts and start the path edging. You can visit Ness and see our progress, and if you go on Bank Holiday Monday there will be a plant sale for the people who can't resist a plant bargain!


  • Final Preparations!

    Pip Probert on 24 Apr 2012 at 01:35 PM

    We are currently finalising the last few details before starting on site at Ness Gardens next week. All materials have been checked and everything is more or less ready. The debate today has been about our tall turf waves. I really think that some designs, have a love or hate relationship with the visitors, and I hope that this new garden within the grounds of the Ness Botanic Gardens, Wirral, will be loved by the visitors.

    The garden has been named ‘Making Waves’ because this is most definitely what we intend to do.  The garden is modern and quirky, and will have a big impact on the site, as it will be seen from many different positions on the site. The design is based on a circular, spiral path that guides visitors around the plot, allowing them to view the plants at different angles throughout the journey. Colour plays a huge role in the design, and solid blocks of colour will sweep around the spiral path.  The turf waves I mentioned earlier will emerge from the floor all over the plot, giving softened boundaries within the design, and blocking off the view at different stages along the route. Read More...

  • Designing Something Special!

    Pip Probert on 17 Apr 2012 at 11:57 AM

    It’s that time of the year when us garden designers are really busy!  Although I enjoy designing gardens of all shapes, sizes and styles every now and again something special comes along.  I am very proud to be involved in this current project, and can’t wait to start on site, and keep you all updated with our progress! 

    I am currently working on a project at Ness Botanic Gardens, Wirral, where we are bringing modern design into Ness.  This year sees the 50th Birthday of ‘The Friend of Ness’, and to celebrate we are building a ‘new’ garden.  Construction of the botanic garden began in 1897, with Arthur Bulley changing the face of British gardens.  The garden is made up of many different areas showcasing numerous plant types within the various spaces on the 65 acre plot.  We hope to create something fresh and new, giving Ness an up to date and modern space for visitors to explore, sit and enjoy.  Most of all I hope that the planting combinations will be something that people can take away with them, as I feel that is the most important part of any outdoor space. Read More...

  • Tatton Park Day 2

    Pip Probert on 12 Jul 2010 at 09:58 PM

    The start of the build always feels like you can't really do much, or that you are not really going as fast as you would like - but in fact you are getting all the really important and necessary things done.  The things that you won't even see, but they have to be there.

    We have been building our walls, which are quite complicated as we have Ivy panels being set into them.  I have been to Congleton today to collect the ivy and the walls have been built around the panels


  • Tatton Park 2010 - Day 1

    Pip Probert on 11 Jul 2010 at 07:08 PM

    Today was the first time we actually stood on our plot.  Looking around the site, there is already lots of activity and I got the feeling it is going to be a fantastic show.  There are lots of familiar faces looking very fresh and raring to go.  We have scraped the surface layer off our plot and marked out ready for tomorrow.  Today has mostly been putting the finishing touches together on certain parts of the scheme ready for loading the vehicles for tomorrow.  I have just finished putting the wood into the van and packed the pick up with tools ready for a very early start tomorrow.  I am constantly keeping an eye on the plants and Cathrine (my supplier) is doing her normal, fantastic job of sending me photos of all the plants so I really can keep tabs on everything whilst at the show.

    Well I think an early night is in order ready for the week ahead!


  • We're Nearly There!

    Pip Probert on 04 Jul 2010 at 08:00 PM

    Part of me is envious of the Show Gardens starting to build this weekend, as I am normally there, first in the queue to get in!  Yet the other part is quite happy that we have another week to just finalise any last minute details and get prepared to take the garden to Tatton.

    This week has been confirmation time - all orders have been checked and product details confirmed.  I have had lots of meetings with various people, where we have pieced together parts of the garden to ensure that everything is going to plan


  • It's Time To Go To Tatton Again!!

    Pip Probert on 23 Jun 2010 at 08:23 PM

    Hello again!  It's that time of year when us northern gardeners start getting excited over having the chance to walk around Tatton Park.  Enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather (well fingers crossed), gorgeous gardens and powerful statements made by the stunning plants.  It will come as no shock to hear that as designers we have been planning our Tatton gardens for months, and now I can't believe how near the show really is! 

    This year I have designed 'The Envirolink Northwest Garden'.  Envirolink Northwest promote and encourage low carbon technologies and products.  This low carbon garden will emphasise how using local, recycled products and renewable energy can be easily incorporated into the garden.  Together we agreed that this garden needed to be modern and contemporary to prove that you don't have to have a stereotypical 'recycled' feel.  With it's brightly coloured walls, unusual water feature and bold, architecture dicksonia tree ferns, this space will create a big impact


  • Well That's It For This Year!

    Pip Probert on 29 Jul 2008 at 06:10 PM

    This year has been an amazing one for me!  Not only did I receive a Bronze Medal for my first Urban Garden at Chelsea.  But I built my biggest and best (if I say so myself) garden at Tatton Park.

    I think that it is safe to say I bit off a little more than I could chew by attempting to build two gardens at Tatton this year.  Sadly the little Back to Back Garden - Time Out was renamed as... 'The Neglected One!'  The plants I had arranged for the small garden sadly did not arrive, and were substituted.  Therefore the garden did not look like it did in my head when I was designing it, and further more I ran out of time.  We all agreed that the Show Garden - Aqua Life had to come first, and so took priority.  'Time Out' received a Bronze Medal, which considering all the problems was acceptable


  • Getting A Little Carried Away!

    Pip Probert on 16 Jul 2008 at 05:33 AM

    I realised last night, as we were told it was definately time to leave the show ground, that I hadn't written a posting for a long time.  Therefore not telling the story of the construction so far.

    Last week we met on our plot for the first time, a large soiled rectangle.  It didn't so big, and certainly didn't look like we would fit everything in.  But we sprayed it up, and started excavating.  Wow, a swimming pool is very different.  This is my first natural swimming pond, and we have certainly built it as if it were here to stay.  The whole was dug very quickly, and the retaining walls were up almost instantly. 


  • Isn't Time Flying!

    Pip Probert on 28 Jun 2008 at 11:26 AM

    Well, we start on site at Tatton Park next weekend. I have already been to Tatton Park twice in the last few weeks, just to have a walk around the site, and get a feel for where my gardens will be.

    Stew, my main construction man has been working hard alongside myself and also our suppliers to ensure that everything will come together once we start building on site. I have been down to Gloucester to see the Organic Stone team, and to see the first samples of our bespoke paving stones, made specially for the Shown Garden - Aqua Life. The colour is amazing, and the texture is beautiful. I left the show room very optimistic and excited about the whole thing. We have made a slight alteration to the design, and included another new product that will highlight the pathway that runs alongside the pool. Not giving too much away, but it is something a little bit different. The Bigger Plant Co have also put my mind at ease (once again) when I went to check on my gorgeous trees. We have two different varietes of tree on the 'Aqua Life' Show Garden, and a Phontinia Hedge on the 'Time Out' Back to Back Garden


  • What An Experience!

    Pip Probert on 05 Jun 2008 at 07:27 PM

    Well I have finally got back on top of everything after my stay in London. I built my first garden at the Chelsea Flower (Urban Category), and received a Bronze Medal, which I am extremely proud of.

    The weather was fantastic during both the build and the show period, but when it came time to break the garden down the heavens opened, and all the tools, equipment, materials came back dirty and very wet! As did the Outer Spaces team. It was one of the projects where everything that could possibley go wrong, DID! We overcame the problems, and built a fantastic garden, that I was extremely happy with, (and as usual) sad to breakdown.


  • So Far, So Good...

    Pip Probert on 25 Apr 2008 at 08:30 PM

    Things are very busy on the show garden front.  We are getting ready to leave for Chelsea, and packing all our tools.  This promises to be a very challenging project, as we have already had various problems to overcome.  I think that this year is going to be a difficult one in terms of planting, as the weather is not helping us produce show standard plants.  I have had to substitute a rather large number of Alliums for the show, and completely change the scheme for my living roof.  I am also having problems on the Sponsor front, due to credit crunches, which I imagine is a problem for a lot of exhibitors.  But I am sure that everything will come together once we get down there.

    Tatton is all starting to pull together, and I have been in contact with the Bath Store to choose the detailing for the outdoor shower.  Also I have been checking up on the plants, that have still got plenty of time to grow.  But my favourite trip this week was to 'The Bigger Plant Company' in Moels, who always supply my trees, and I have selected 8 large specimens for my Show Garden that look fantastic.  I feel very excited now I can see some of the main components of the Show Garden coming together.  Also I have selected some larger shrubs to create the hedge backdrop for my Back to Back Garden


  • Start of the Show Season

    Pip Probert on 11 Apr 2008 at 02:21 PM

    After submitting plans late last year for three gardens at various shows in 2008, and being accepted with a Chic Garden at Chelsea called Green Living, a Back to Back at Tatton called Time out, and a Show Garden also at Tatton called Aqualife – this year is already very busy.  So far I have mostly been planning the gardens, arranging deliveries and materials with sponsoring companies, and choosing all the materials and matching products / props, and scheduling the works with my team.

    Chelsea is virtually organised at this point, the garden’s construction has been planned and scheduled.  My team and I are all VERY excited, and can’t wait to begin our first ever Chelsea garden experience.  We have been making mock ups of different construction methods, and feel confident that the garden will be a success