ALEXANDRA NOBLE, LONDON
Alexandra studied architecture and worked for Luciano Giubbilei Design before starting her eponymous business in 2017. She favours flower-rich planting schemes to help promote biodiversity and counteract environmental damage.
Sum up your work in three words: Romantic, considered, geometric.
Why garden design? I really love the collaborative process of making gardens and especially relish the chance to work with expert growers, as well as renowned suppliers.
Describe your style. I’m drawn to design that has a hint of the ephemeral, whimsical or surreal. I’m also a believer in simplicity of layout and limiting the number of different materials used in a scheme.
Do you have any signature plants and materials? I’ve long loved umbellifers, grasses and herbs. I particularly enjoy juxtaposing naturalistic plants with hard materials that have a sense of solidity.
Your garden design inspirations? Peter Zumthor’s HortusConclusus Serpentine Pavilion (2011), with planting by Piet Oudolf, has stayed with me vividly. I also love the work of American minimal artists Donald Judd and Carl Andre.
Currently working on... I have just finished the planting design fora garden overlooking Hampstead Heath ponds, and I’m now working on other private residential projects across the south of England. alexandranoble.com
PROPAGATING DAN, SNOWDONIA
A self-confessed plantaholic, Dan graduated from Capel Manor College in 2009 and enjoys using rare species in his gardens, some of them spied on his travels.
Sum up your work in three words: Playful, bold, botanical.
Why garden design? It combines two of my favourite things: the natural world and creativity.
Describe your style. Playful and contextual. I love coming up with unique and beautiful solutions to the limitations of specific outdoor spaces, be they shady, odd-shaped, exposed or with poor soil.
Do you have any signature plants? Shrubs, though not the nondescript blobs associated with that word. Schefflera are my go-to genus for structural focal points, and I wouldn’t be without scented daphnes.
Your garden design inspirations? I’m a big fan of Jimi Blake’s irreverent plantings at Hunting Brook Gardens in Ireland – putting cacti or desert aeoniums in a border, and dotting shrubs and trees through a space with a carpet of herbaceous plants and grasses below.
Currently working on... A new Maggie’s cancer care centre in Cambridge. It’s a wonderful life-changing charity, and they appreciate how the design and planting of a space can positively affect the experience of being there. propagatingdan.com
TOM SIMPSON, LONDON
Graduating top of his class at London College of Garden Design in 2016, Tom has worked on projects all over the country, and won three awards for his entry at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2019.
Sum up your work in three words: Bold, driven, intuitive.
Why garden design? I enjoy the creative and problem-solving process, whereby you can take something conceptual and translate it into a tangible, physical space – one that will grow and develop over time.
Describe your style. Clean, crisp hard landscaping mixed with romantic planting. I’m drawn to bold curves.
Do you have any signature plants and materials? Clipped hedging and simple topiary forms for structure. Large-format stone paving cut in clean lines mixed with natural boulders, gravel and soft, textured planting.
Your garden design inspirations? Kim Wilkie, whose bold, contemporary designs draw on the history of landscape; Jacques Wirtz, whose striking simplicity created some spectacular spaces; and Isabel and Julian Bannerman, whom I worked for at their garden in Cornwall and who inspired me to pursue a career in garden design. tomsimpsondesign.com
KRISTIAN REAY, BRISTOL
The RHS Young Designer of the Year 2019 studied landscape architecture and now works part-time for a practice in Bath while continuing to undertake his own commissions.
Sum up your work in three words: Modernist, romantic, relaxed.
Why garden design? I love working with living materials. As time passes and planting matures, wildlife moves in and a garden starts to develop a life of its own. That’s when the excitement starts.
Describe your approach. I aim to understand the spirit of a place, working sensitively with the unique character of the landscape.
Do you have any signature plants and materials? I enjoy experimenting with different styles and material palettes. However, designing with grasses and fragrant perennials planted in a relaxed Mediterranean style is something that I’m into at the moment.
Favourite project so far? Designing a garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park last year was fantastic. Show gardens allow for some really exciting opportunities that would be difficult or impractical in a real garden.
What would be your dream project? I’d like to design some larger public parks and hopefully my own garden, as I’m running out of room in my flat for any more house plants! kristianreay.uk
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration July 2020
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