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House Curious

Lifestyle and interior shop. Social workshops for the creatively curious.

Filtering by Tag: garden


Sommer Pyne

As promised here is the follow up blog to our Instagram Live garden tour last week. A big thank you to those of you that were able to join us. If you missed the tour head over to my IGTV to check it out now.

I was joined by our Garden Designer Shelley Hugh-Jones who shared her wealth of knowledge and answered all your burning questions. Shelley has kindly written a blog post below sharing some of her insider tips, explaining why it's important to get a garden designer, plus the plant list with all those tricky plant names. 

Photo Credit - House Curious

Photo Credit - House Curious

Why use a garden designer?

An experienced garden designer will have the creativity and perspective to assess the existing garden and come up with fresh ideas, identifying solutions that run in line with the available budget.

They can help with everything from planning the entire garden,  from solving privacy problems, to selecting the most suitable plants for beds and borders, and in doing so avoiding potential costly mistakes. Their expertise in planning an outdoor space will also maximize the potential of your garden and add value to your property.

As well as plant knowledge, a garden designer also should have specialist knowledge, regarding local guidelines and building regulations regarding driveways, fence heights, tree protection orders, conservation areas, levels and slopes, hard landscaping etc.

They can take responsibility for all the design work, specifications and appointment of contractors, as well as act on your behalf in any discussions regarding the actual build.

Photo Credit - Shelley Hugh-Jones

Photo Credit - Shelley Hugh-Jones

When to get garden designer involved:

Do this as early as possible.  If you are working with an architect or builder, a collaborative approach is key. Decisions regarding the space planning are made together so that both inside and outside are unified.

Practical issues such as where the outdoor tap will be situated, gas if running a gas pipe rather than using bottled gas, lighting cables and light fittings on the house wall all effect the position of feeds from inside the house etc. The electrician also needs to leave enough capacity on the system for enough circuits, two at least, for the garden. Feeds for outdoor speakers also need to be installed early on.

Conduits under patios etc need to be left for electrical cables and irrigation feeds.

Photo credit - House Curious

Photo credit - House Curious

Briefing a garden designer

  • Give them as much info as possible regarding your likes and dislikes.

  • Show them around your downstairs space or show plans of how things will look inside. Discuss interior colours, flooring, work surfaces etc.

  • Introduce them to your builder/architect/etc. as early as possible.

Considerations when planning a garden

  • How you want to use the garden, dining, cooking, relaxed seating, play areas- trampoline, climbing frames, football area, etc real grass/ artificial?

  • Privacy issues.

  • Likes and dislikes in terms of materials and plants if you have them.

  • The direction the garden faces, soil type, whether you are in a conservation area as there are planning rules within these areas.

  • Budget

  • Draw up a list of requirements and how you want to use your garden.

  • First of all use your existing internal décor style/colours etc as a starting point, (specifically of the room that adjoins the garden) in order to create a good flow from inside to out, these two spaces should work together. Look at the flooring material or colour and repeat this outside, kitchen surfaces, chrome or brass hardware etc. All this can be reflected in the garden.

  • The façade of the house also is very important, type of brick, render, colour etc and the position of doors onto the garden.

  • Divide up the space to make the garden appear larger even if it is a small garden this can be done to a lesser extent. Use planting or other focal points along the garden length so that your eyes track from side to side rather than just focusing on the back border.

  • Lay paving widthways to make it appear wider and lengthways to appear longer.

  • Evergreen structure in a garden is key and the first thing to be considered.

  • Planting can divide up the space, add structure, act as focal points, provide privacy, add colour, texture and form plus year round interest.

  • Very important to use plants that will thrive in the conditions specific to your garden, sunny, shady, soil quality, clay, sandy etc.

  • Consider the eventual height and spread as the plants mature also important to consider and how the garden will look in years to come.

  • Speak to your neighbours before the work starts as boundary issues especially in London often rear their head.

Photo Credit - House Curious

Photo Credit - House Curious

How I work with clients:

After an initial visit and discussion of the brief I draw up an initial proposal and outline of ideas plus design costs and details of how the design process works.

I create a Pinterest board for the project to which all parties can contribute. It’s a good way of exchanging ideas and getting inspiration.

The garden is surveyed.

I draw up to scale 2-3 ideas for the layout and an outline of the planting and after discussion with the client a lead design is chosen and a detailed building specification is prepared. Landscapers can then quote on the same design and specification making all the quotes comparable. .

Regular site meetings with the landscaper and client while the build is in progress take place which allows for discussion regarding and any decisions or changes that have to be made that all are in agreement with.

The planting plan and plant lists are discussed with the client and ordered ready for planting at the end of the construction period.

Photo Credit - Shelley Hugh-Jones

Photo Credit - Shelley Hugh-Jones



Allium 'Mont Blanc'


Trachelospermum jasminoides


Asplenium scolopendrium

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Polystichum polyblepharum

Polystichum setiferum Divisilobum Group 'Herrenhausen'

Dicksonia antartica


Hakonechloa macra  (down lhs and down to the basement)

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’


Prunus lusitanica 1.50-1.75m

Euonymus japonicus 


Allium schoenoprasum

Rosmarinus officinalis

Thymus 'Doone Valley'

Thymus x citriodorus



Pachysandra terminalis


Rosa ‘Generous Gardener’ -climber

Rosa ‘Spirit of Freedom’ -shrub rose


Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’ (Annabelle Strong)

Ilex crenata Single

Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'

Paeonia lactiflora 'Shirley Temple'

Viburnum opulus 'Roseum'

Viburnum tinus


Multi-stemmed Amelanchier lamarkii (in front of pergola)

Standard Viburnum lucidum (behind pergola)

Standard Catalpa bignonoides ‘Nana’ (rhs and lhs)


We hope you found that interesting and useful. Please do take the time to comment below with any feedback or questions.


Sommer Pyne

Styled by Sommer Pyne

Styled by Sommer Pyne

Summer is in full swing and it's perfect BBQ weather and a great excuse to throw a garden party. If you’ve been following me on the gram you’ll know that I turned 40 and I’m milking it for all it's worth. I’m not just having one big party I’m doing several small things across the year and on my actual birthday I hosted a garden party with a small group of friends. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to throw a party with maximum gorgeousness, then here’s how you to it.

Styled by Sommer Pyne

Styled by Sommer Pyne

Think about a theme and then base your colour scheme, flowers and any other decorative ideas around this. It can be really loose so don’t over think it too much. It could be as simple as your favourite colours, Spring or festival vibes. I find having a theme helps give me a starting point to focus on. I’m Australian so I wanted to have a little nod to my roots but done in a very tasteful way. Nothing snooty just a beautiful laid back affair with lots of botanicals.

You’ll need the following...

1. Wooden pallets to form a low table. 

You can get really creative and stack them or just use a single layer like I’ve done here. They come in lots of different sizes, but the ones I used are 120cm x 100cm. The number of guests will dictate how many pallets you need but roughly speaking you can fit 4-5 people per pallet. You can buy pallets online if you google them or if you’re after free pallets head to your local Big Yellow Storage and I’m sure they will be happy to off load them to you. They usually have plenty lying around and they hold on to them for about a week and then they pay for them to be collected, so you’ll be doing them a favour.

2. Sheets, towels or blankets

Firstly lay 4-6 sheets down in a row (the number of sheets will depend on how large your table is) and make sure there is enough sheet sticking out on either side to sit on. I allowed about 70cm each side. This is your base and now you need to layer. Place either towels or picnic blankets around the edge on top of the sheet. I used these cool stripy towels from H&M, which were really good value and were perfect with my setting. I then added cushions so people could lounge on them. I used a variety of cushions from House Curious and some extra large ones from Sainsburys. 


3. Botanicals and foliage

This was the most fun for me as I love flowers and I managed to find the most beautiful Australian botanicals that were perfect for my Australian theme. I had a mixture of eucalyptus, monstera, banksia and some other exotic flowers. I also bought lots of extra foliage and palm leaves. The best place to buy your flowers are from a wholesaler or flower market as it can get quite pricey or see what you can grab from your garden. I always go to The New Covent Garden Market when I'm doing an event but make sure you go super early to get the good stuff. 

I used palm leaves as my place mats, but you could also use banana leaves, or use a roll of craft paper instead. It’s all about the layering! I used two large glass vases from House Curious as my centre piece and filled them with my gorgeous Australian botanicals. I placed the large vases of botanicals in the middle of the table and then used branches to weave between the vases to complete the centre piece. 

4. Ice buckets filled with icy cold rose is a must.

Place ice buckets on the pallets so people can help themselves to the bubbles and rose. This gorgeous ice bucket above has just landed at House Curious and is the perfect accessory for summer parties.

5. Mix your plates

I used a mixture of plates from our Nordic Sand and Palm print range available here. No need to be matchy matchy, head to your local charity shop and get a selection of different plates. Gone are the days where everything has to match.


6. Extra-large balloons with tassels

Extra large balloons are great for adding that extra wow factor and they are very Instagram worthy. If price isn’t an issue you can get some great balloons from BonBon Balloons who also deliver. Or if you’re a bit thrifty like me you can buy extra-large balloons on Amazon for a steal. I also found DIY tassels from here. If you’re the craft type you can make your own tassels from scratch, which I did for my daughter’s birthday one year. It’s time consuming so if you’re time poor don’t do it. Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to make your own.

7.    The little extras

Weave tea lights in and around the foliage and dot lanterns, fairy lights and festoon lights around the garden to add a summer warm glow for when the festivities carry on into the night. 

8. Props and games

I used a large Fortnum and Mason picnic basket as a decorative piece, but I also filled it with some games, sunscreen and picnic blankets. I love a bit of tipsy badminton!

To see more of the festivities of the day head to my instagram highlights.

A BBQ is perfect for this kind of setting and again makes for a chilled affair. I was lucky enough to have Anna Barnett do my catering for my birthday bash. After all it was my 40th so I wanted to relax and enjoy chatting with my friends. We had seabasss, slow roast lamb, BBQ corn, scallops, delicious salads and the most incredible cheese board. Our guests were asked to fill their plates up and we all gathered around my makeshift table feasting and chatting in the sunshine. The icing on the cake was live music by Steve. If you want to create that extra special touch to an event then Steve is your man! We spent the afternoon grazing on our large cheese board and my lovely friend made expresso martinis for everyone. We partied on into the night and I was a very happy 40 year old. Now that’s how you put on a garden party! If you found this interesting or helpful in any way please comment below and share your garden party tips with me. Don't forget to tag me on instagram if you use any of these tips to throw your own party. 

Sommer x