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IGTV with Helen Elks Smith about garden site design challenges

Nicola Gammon, CEO, Shoot and Helen Elks-Smith, Elks-Smith Garden Design discuss site specific design challenges and Helen answers questions from from Shoot members.

Some of the questions Helen answered today from our community include:

  • Tell us about the client garden you are in now? Can you show us around a bit? Or tell us a bit about the garden?
  • What is the most challenging site situation you have had to design for? What were the site considerations and how did you overcome the issues presented?
  • I love your use of grasses and tall, bold perennials. Do you think planting is often too timid and low and should we 'go big' with perennials more often and sacrifice some shrubs for this?
  • Would you share some of your favourite grasses/ combinations/ tall perennials for interest throughout the year?
  • Considering The Chelsea Flower Show is also a ‘location’, albeit a contrived one but one that sits among lots of other exhibitors, what are your main tips for creating a winning design concept without knowing what your ‘neighbours’ will be?
  • How do you approach designing within the confines of a National Park?
  • What would your recommendation be for a similar planting located in the north west?
  • What does the irrigation system look like for the front yard?
  • Do you have any preferred suppliers for plants, trees, paving and furniture?
  • What design course to do, I’m rhs qualified to level 3, 6 years ago but have not really done much design work since.  
  • Could you please ask Helen what works best in the garden in autumnal months up to Christmas?


By Helen Elks-Smith