Barry Burrows, Managing Director
Bartholomew is London’s leading landscape design and build company working on residential and commercial estates and gardens. They have been creating unique gardens and outdoor spaces since 1989. Our interior design studio has had the great pleasure of collaborating with Bartholomew Landscaping on some fantastic projects, including a Parsons Green family home’s urban garden for which we won the 'Residential Interior Private Residence London' award at the UK Property Awards 2020. We sat down with Managing Director Barry Burrows to discourse the ins and outs of landscape architecture.
The Process Of Hiring A Landscape Architect
What are three things homeowners should consider when looking to hire a landscape architect or a site design team?
The first thing to consider would be a proven track record in terms of previously designed projects along with references and any awards achieved. Even better if one has a personal recommendation. Alternatively, you can always turn to the BALI website (British Association of Landscape Industries) where a whole host of registered professionals can be reviewed.
Once you have engaged with a designer, ensure that you go through a very thorough brief, which should then be steered by the designer and yourself only in terms of continuity of design. Be mindful that “too many cooks can spoil the broth” and ultimately that’s why you are engaging a design professional within a specific field.
We all want value for money, so lastly, I suggest that more than one designer of your choice is approached in order to obtain comparable fee submissions in accordance with the scope of works.
Always remember to check that your chosen designer has capacity in terms of deliverables and your program. Most importantly, make sure your selection is someone that you are able to get along with and who listens carefully! Ultimately you will or ought to be working very closely together and require the best possible outcome.
Have you seen a change in the level of importance luxury property buyers place on having outdoor space and if so, why do you think that is?
Outdoor space is now more categorised as an additional room these days and dressed according to design brief and budget. However, any outdoor space is proving to be even more important than ever before, particularly with the recent pandemic and lockdowns forcing people to stay at home. Luxury property buyers are generally looking for a turnkey solution that encompasses a fully outdoor dining and entertainment experience. These include bespoke outdoor kitchen facilities such as BBQ, hot plate, wine chiller, feature fire pit and a comfortable lounging furniture arrangement.
Interior Design Meets Landscape Design
Can you explain the process of collaborating with architects and interior designers to ensure there is a cohesive look and feel for a property from indoors to outdoors?
Bartholomew generally collaborates and forms part of an overall design team along with the architects and interior designers to ensure the outdoor space has continuity and potentially reflects elements of the interior. It’s also very useful from an infrastructure and functionality point of view so that controlling any external elements such as lighting can be done using the internal mechanical and electrical set up.
The architect is generally the lead and contract administrator on the project, and we would tend to work under them along with the main contractor for ease of regular communication, phasing of works and any program deadlines. We often also work directly with clients on both a design and build basis.
How important is it to connect your landscape design with the surrounding environment of a property?
This would depend on how strong the surrounding architecture was as well as finding a balance ensuring there is an element of continuity from the design of the internal space. Whilst it is key that the design blends and sits harmoniously with the surroundings in terms of picking up on any architectural features of a property. It can sometimes be quite striking to design a scheme with very detailed hard landscaping features that almost conflicts and is blended with carefully chosen planting.
Can you share one or two garden design trends that we can expect to see a lot of in the next year?
The big one for me is the whole outdoor room experience, including a great fire pit, overhead canopy for inclement weather, fabulous comfortable furniture and outdoor cinema. Most gardens we design these days tend to be app-controlled in terms of lighting, music and heating.
Do you have any tips for how to elevate your outdoor dining area?
An overhead pergola structure to create an intimate feel as well as offer shade from the sun, lovely comfortable table and chairs, intimate mood lighting, table dressing including fresh flowers and candelabras, overhead/outdoor heating, scented planting and planted pots with lemon trees or beautiful flowering datura.
What factors must you consider when selecting the materials which will be incorporated into the landscaping design of an outdoor space? For example, when paving, decking, creating paths or walls.
As a designer, it’s important to consider the durability and longevity of materials that I would specify or approve. Also, look at the overall impact a material will have in terms of the surroundings and being easy on the eye. Safety is also an important factor in terms of being non-slip, critical heights of walls and falls along with any maintenance regime that may be required. For example, I wouldn’t specify a loose gravel driveway to enter a property with beautifully laid wooden floors.
London's Best Public Gardens & Green Spaces
What is your favourite public garden in London and why?
I don’t have a favourite as such, although one that does spring to mind is the fantastic Chelsea Physic Garden. Established in 1673 this is London’s oldest botanic garden which contains a unique living collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful, medicinal and historic plants that have changed the world. The garden’s warm microclimate means that many of the tender plants flourish within the sheltering walls including a number of rare and endangered species. They also house the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain. From pomegranates to ginkgos, mulberries to eucalyptus, there are over 100 different species of trees alone in the garden, many of which are rare in Britain. There are glasshouses, dicotyledon order beds, a pond rockery, a historical walk and various different gardens dedicated to edible and useful plants, world woodlands and medicinal plants. This is one place for me that is fascinating from the perspective that you can never stop learning and you always come away with new and exciting ideas for your own garden.
Another garden which also springs to mind would be The Salters Garden in the City of London. I was personally involved with it in the mid to late ’90s along with the lead designer, the late David Hicks. This is one of London’s hidden gems with a portion of London wall running through the acre-wide gardens, giving the wonderful outdoor space Roman heritage site status. The gardens are laid out quite formally with lawn, structured topiary hedging, gravel paths and paving with a series of arches to support the beautiful rambling roses. There are three fountains/water features, one adjacent to the building and one at each end of the garden and a central decorative urn near the Roman wall. Your eye is drawn particularly along the west vista to the circular pond that emulates a sense of breathing as the water pulsates. There is also a number of obelisks interspersed within the planting beds to support the floribunda roses. This garden has most of the elements I favour in terms of structure, whilst being an extremely tranquil place to visit in the heart of a bustling city.
What does the typical process of landscaping a client’s garden look like from concept to completion?
The process involves an overall assessment of the existing space. Firstly, listening to the client and developing a wish list that ultimately transforms into their dream garden. Then conducting an accurate survey including the taking of levels, bearing in mind existing drainage runs. This would then be drawn up onto our CAD (computer aided design) in order to begin the design process. In the first instance, we would tend to present a concept design, which is generally prepared in a sketch up or Lumion CGI model as per the example shown above. On sign off of the concept, we would then begin to develop the design further and ultimately to preparing a technical detailed pack in order to prepare accurate costings and build.
Award-Winning Landscape Design
Bartholomew Landscaping has won multiple awards including two medals at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Can you share your proudest professional achievement to date?
Whilst Chelsea was a huge undertaking and great experience on both occasions, I would say that my proudest professional achievement and greatest honour was to work very closely with the late Stanley Seeger on a grade II listed manor house described as one of the finest examples in Devon and included a 123-acre estate and far-reaching views across the beautiful countryside. This was the latest project that this very private client had undertaken and true to character, his demands were modest but exacting. He asked for the history of the building and surrounding landscape to be respected, traditional crafts and materials were to be used for all of the building works and above all, that the quality of the scheme was nothing short of perfection. This philosophy was always applied by Mr Seeger to all of his projects and it was this vision that marked his restoration of Sutton Place, where he worked with one of the 20th Century’s leading Landscape Architects Sir Geoffrey Jellico, to enhance the building and historic gardens that dated back to the 14th Century and had been laid out by Gertrude Jekyll in the early 1900s. Mr Seeger was a true visionary, and I felt very honoured to have been given the opportunity to have engaged with him so closely, which was a privilege given his extremely private and reclusive nature.
You recently expanded your services to also provide construction work. What led to this and how does also offering contractors benefit your clients?
We chose to expand the company into domestic building work on the basis that we were forever being asked if (a) we could recommend a builder or (b) please can’t you just do this for us on this occasion. Basically, this was by default and ultimately one could say as a result of being “victims of our own success”. Clients are simply very responsive to three things: First-class workmanship, efficiency and reliability and excellent value for money.
We have a superb team of qualified gardeners and horticulturists tending to the many gardens we build on a contract basis. We are also currently expanding our maintenance division to include residential property maintenance, especially for existing clients with whom we are already tried and tested. This is proving to be very successful and to date, we have completed a number of refurbishments in Kensington and Hampstead.
Are you expecting to see more people invest in their outdoor cooking and dining areas now more of us are choosing to entertain outside?
Most definitely! We have a very high demand for these already including wine chillers, pizza ovens, Quooker tap and sink units to save running back and forth to the kitchen to make a hot drink. All in all, clients are wanting to be part of the social interaction and be able to entertain their guests during the preparation process. It makes the whole process so much more fun as opposed to one or two being stuck in the kitchen.
What are some of the ways that lighting can enhance an outdoor space?
I am always of the opinion that lighting should be approached from the ‘less is more’ angle. In terms of enhancements, it’s always nice to uplight the crown (head of any specimen trees). This can prove to be dramatic when both in and out of leaf, especially if the tree has good crown structure. Throughout shrub planting generally, picking up on key plants, especially with interesting foliage, such as a maple or golden coloured spirea. Any other key features, in particular water, especially if it has movement, as this can create a lovely calming shimmering effect by night. Downlighters are also a good option on contemporary trellises. Not forgetting house façade lighting, such as framing of main doors and up lighting of columns. Paving and recessed step lights can also be very effective and the underneath to a handrail can form a subtle feature.
There are various ways to reduce noise and increase sound absorption when landscaping, but what are some ways to incorporate and accentuate sound into the outdoor environment?
In terms of noise reduction, there are several ways in which this can be addressed, and I would start with mature hedges to the perimeter, specimen (evergreen) trees with dense foliage such as holly and planting strategically placed can all form part of an acoustic barrier. One could also invest in an acoustic barrier fence as well as installing a shed/studio building. A water fountain also masks an element of noise as would fabrics to furniture and any other structure.
All photographs copyright property of Bartholomew.