Gardening Magazine

Garden Designer Interview: Claudia De Yong

By Notcuttsuk @notcuttsuk

Garden designer interview: Claudia de YongClaudia de YongClaudia de Yong is an exciting and accomplished garden designer with many awards to her name including eight medals from the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Along with running her company, Claudia also finds time to offer her pearls of wisdom on her blog where you can find great advice, top tips and catch up with her latest projects. We at Notcutts were lucky enough to catch up with the garden designer to find out what her plans for the future are.

You’re known for creating ‘romantic’ landscapes. How would you describe these gardens?

To me a romantic garden is one that touches your heart and of course includes water! There is nothing more lovely then hearing the sound of a gently flowing stream on a summer’s evening or seeing the magical reflective qualities light plays across a pond or lake. A garden that can make you sigh with pleasure and escape the pressures of the outside world is a romantic garden.

You specialise in water features, what is your favorite so far? Is there anything you’d like to experiment with in the future?

My favorite type of water feature is creating a natural wildlife pond. I am constantly amazed how quickly wildlife finds the water and I love making the pond look as if it has always been part of the landscape. Sometimes I use a wildflower mix around the ponds and this attracts even more beautiful insects to the garden. I have built concrete koi ponds and small water features as well as large ponds but would love to build a moat!

Garden designer interview: Claudia de Yong
What are the first steps to consider if you’re planning to introduce water into the garden?

The most important thing is position. Not under trees and preferably in a flat area. With the recent floods a lot of pond liners have lifted due to ground water and doing a simple test with the depth of a spade at different times of the year to establish the water table can help. You may need to consider a French drain under a lined pond so think where the lowest point is for any run off. Don’t hide your pond miles away from view of the house, it’s lovely to look out onto water and see the wildlife being attracted to it.

You’ve won a few awards to say the least, what do you believe is your greatest accomplishment and what are you striving for next?

I think my greatest accomplishment is not so much the awards but having found a profession I love and helping people. Many of my clients become friends and I enjoy being able to transform an ugly space into something more magical. I work all over England and would love to work in Europe. Maybe one day do a Chelsea garden too just to say I have done one!

Garden designer interview: Claudia de Yong
What do you predict the biggest trends to be in garden design for 2014?

This is always a difficult question. You will find many designers at shows using the same plants in their gardens so people ultimately say it’s a trend for that year but it maybe because they have had to substitute due to poor weather! It also depends what part of the country you are in. London will still see the more minimalist look whilst in the countryside there will be more meadows and edibles. I haven’t really answered the question have I ?!

Growing meadows for wildlife seems to be a popular trend at the moment; do you have any advice for our readers who are thinking of creating a wildlife haven in their garden?

Yes meadows are not the same for everybody and the wonderful ones you see at say Great Dixter are well managed. A lot of people add bulbs to their meadow mixes but essentially don’t over sow with seed and after the first wonderful exuberance of flowers don’t worry the following year as less come up. Make sure you include some grass suppressants in your mixes and don’t be afraid to experiment. You can even sow seeds in a window box as an annual display. There are now mixes for shady areas and under trees and also already sown wildlife turf which you can put down instead of grass.

Garden designer interview: Claudia de Yong
How would you describe your garden and do you have a favorite area?

My garden doesn’t get the attention it needs and I often get so disheartened at times as I am not in it enough. I come back from doing other people’s gardens and I am exhausted! However, I would have to say sitting on the deck by my pond is my favorite place. I have ducks nesting, a king fisher that flies in now and again, water that is alive with frogspawn at the moment and dragonflies. Another area I love is in the more formal vegetable garden, cutting sweet peas in the summer under a pergola of apples over a meandering brick path.

What does the magic of gardening mean to you?

It means I never stop learning and I am part of this earth-literally at times! Gardening comes to most people later in life when they have more time and has great health benefits lifting the spirit as well as keeping you physically healthy.

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