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I began my career working within the world of interior design, working for Designers Guild in Chelsea and Smallbone of Devizes within their creative departments, as an in-house stylist for all their showrooms and photo shoots. For a few years, I continued to work as a freelance photographic stylist for editorials, still specialising in interiors.

From as early as I can remember, I have always had a passion for plants and had the privilege of working as a volunteer gardener, at the renowned Great Dixter; home of the late Christopher Lloyd. In 1999, I took up a new career path as a Garden Designer and have continued to do so to the present day. The projects I have worked on have been primarily based within the Southeast of England; Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and London as well as some projects overseas.

I have designed a variety of gardens, from traditional English Country in style, to contemporary outdoor living, from the small town house or cottage garden, to large country estates.


I have always had an artistic background; my Father being an artist working in oils, which was discovered later in life and my mother a keen gardener. My strengths in school and college were art and creatively based subjects, beginning my career within the world of interiors and photographic styling. I have been working as a Garden Designer for the past 16 years. I come from a family of a long line of passionate and obsessional gardeners particularly on my mother’s side of the family.
My grandparents, great Uncles and Aunts all lived in Ceylon, where they ran tea plantations up in the hill country in the mid 1900’s. Beautiful tropical gardens were created wherever they lived; Alma, Nr Newralia, being the last before returning back to the UK to live out their retirement years. My grandfather became a river baliff on the Avon on the Sommerly Estate. As I child, having being brought up in the Surrey countryside, I spent my days creating my own patch of garden, surrounded by domestic pets, horses and ponies. Many hours were whiled away with my brother and sister, building hay houses and camps in the woods and fairy houses by the stream. My mother would spend hours and hours creating beautiful gardens surrounding our family home and would not come in until after dark.

Following in her footsteps, as soon as I had the first home of my own, albeit a 3rd floor flat in Blackheath, the pots and window boxes multiplied and exploded with vegetation and flowers. The houses grew as did the size of the gardens and many years were spent, like my mother and predecessors before me, developing and creating formal gardens, wild areas, vegetable and woodland gardens alike.

I remember my first ever visit to The Chelsea Flower Show in 1987 and being blown away by the stunning show gardens. I could not get my head around how entire gardens appeared to be picked up and set down in the heart of the city, as though they had always been there. At the time, my favourite was a re-creation of the crumbling stone tower, clothed in wisteria and climbing roses, at the gardens of Ninfa, Nr Rome. I was utterly captivated and hooked. I think at that point my future destiny as a Garden Designer was sealed. One day I will go to Ninfa, that is a promise I made to myself many years ago.

I moved to East Sussex in the early 1990’s and had the good fortune of living a stones throw from the renowned Great Dixter; home to the famous gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd. I became a volunteer gardener where I learned about propagation, plants species and their varieties, good gardening technics and an appreciation of shape and form and being creative with plant and colour combinations.

As an off-shoot of this my children spent many an hour playing in the gardens and getting lost in the vast network of tunnels found running in-between the ancient yew hedges that provide the backbone of this garden, nestled in the heart of the East Sussex countryside. Now I have hopped across the border into the Weald of Kent and presently living and working in the village of Rolvenden.

I do not consider my work to be formulaic or have any particular style, as I approach every project with a fresh eye
and take into consideration all aspects i.e. The surroundings, taking in the age and style of the buildings, a site
analysis considering light and shade, the soil conditions, required levels of maintenance and the client’s requirements.

I try to create spaces which reflect the natural surroundings, which flow and melt into the landscape, to be easy on
the eye, but at the same time awakens the senses. This applies just as much to a country garden as a town or city
space, creating ‘rooms’, focal points and a sense of journey, no matter how small the space.

It is important to maximise year round interest, so with this in mind, I start building the ‘bones’ of the garden. This
can be in the form of hard landscaping e.g. pathways, terraces, constructions, planters and sculpture through to
trees, hedging and topiary. These bones are then clothed in the soft planting of climbers, perennials, annuals and
bulbs, with an emphasis on colour texture and form.


Site Surveys
Depending on the nature of the project, it is sometimes necessary for a land survey to be carried out. If this is the case and there is no current up-to-date survey in existence, I will either carry out the site survey myself, or for larger or and/or more complicated sites, I work in conjunction with a chartered surveyor. This would be quoted for separately.

If the client has a preferred professional within that field, I am more than happy to work alongside them.
Having established the clients requirements, likes and dislikes, I will provide sketches and working drawings, to then develop into potential layout plans and any necessary concept drawings. These are discussed with the client at length, to fine tune and make any necessary alterations, prior to drawing up a master layout plan, supporting concept drawings and any technical specifications required.

These documents will contain and provide all the necessary information; e.g. hard landscaping design and proposed materials, measurements, positioning of drainage, electricity and lighting cables etc.
Story Boards and Sheets
These act as additional visual aids, to give the client a clearer idea of proposed styles, possible ideas for hard and soft landscaping and planting etc. I also use Pinterest and other social media to share my ideas with clients.
Plant Lists and Sourcing
Provision of comprehensive plant lists and where necessary, planting overlay-plans. These will provide detailed information on the plants proposed for the project and the required quantities. Due consideration is given to the most suitable plant for each given environment, in which it is to grow and thrive.

I have a wealth of contacts within the plant world, both here in the U.K. and overseas; e.g. the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. I am able to source both the everyday ordinary garden plants to the most extraordinary!
Over the years, I have worked with several landscaping companies, both large and small. I am able to introduce whom I consider best suited for the job and am happy to meet any other contractors, preferred by the client. A full set of plans and drawings are then issued to prospective contractors for tender.
Project Management and Sourcing
I will oversee and manage a project through from its start to completion, liaising with the contractors and site manager, to ensure the best possible job is achieved both in terms of quality of workmanship, running within the given timescale and ensure value for money.

It is possible for me to source both materials for the hard landscaping, such as reclaimed York stone and French limestone to hardwood decking and glass balustrade or bespoke ironwork, as well as garden ornaments, statutory and furniture.
Garden Maintenance and Programmes
I can offer a tailor made maintenance service, devised according to the requirements of any particular garden. This can be for regular maintenance or a one off service such as clearance, hedge work, pruning, digging etc. This service is quoted for upon request.

A maintenance programme comprises of a document, detailing all the plant varieties used within a scheme, where they have been planted and instructions on their aftercare.

More portfolio studies coming soon...

The Portfolio above shows a small percentage of the gardens I have created. We will be adding more to this section soon but in the meantime you can contact me to arrange a meeting if you would like to see more examples of my work.

Please contact me for an initial, no obligation chat if you would like to talk about your garden. I do understand how personal garden design can be and I would be more than happy to talk about your ideas and vision. Just email me, call me or message me on Facebook if you would like to book an appointment.

Mobile 07957 445 057
Email  info@catherineberkeleygardens.com

How I work
Garden Design Services
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07957 445 057