With a good budget for the task, we thought when we first decided to have a garden make-over that it would be plain sailing. The garden that wraps around our bungalow, on a relatively modern housing estate, was last “done” after we had an extension 15 years ago. We say “done”, it was to a design that my husband and I drew on a flip chart with absolutely no knowledge of garden design, let alone accessible garden design, to meet his needs as someone who is severely visually impaired and me as a wheelchair user. Almost immediately this garden was completed in 2002 we were aware of its shortcomings and so were keen to avoid such mistakes this time around. Still with no specialist knowledge of accessible garden design ourselves, we were keen to employ someone who could meet our needs with options that we were not even aware of.
I put “garden design for wheelchair users” into our internet search engine and amongst the list I was offered I found Mark Lane Designs, the country’s only professional garden designer who is a wheelchair user. An email was quickly dispatched to him, followed by the photos of our garden as it was, as he requested. That was in December 2016. He said from the outset that he could not do anything quickly, given by then we had already spent two years messing about (each time our approach to a firm failed it took us time to re-group and try again) we were more than happy to wait if it would finally lead to a successful garden for us. On this basis Mark first came to meet us and our garden in January 2017. At that first meeting we were immediately confident that he was the person who could deliver what we wanted, he was the first person who “just got” what we were saying and opened up discussions of what was possible for us rather than leaving us feeling closed down as had happened with previous firms.
With just our memories and 800 photos and video clips to remind us of the 8 weeks, what we have now is a garden that far exceeds what we could have ever imagined. It really feels like we have moved house. As you approach, the bungalow is unrecognisable, the front garden is so different and the drive way is much wider. The back garden is equally unrecognisable. The heated Summer House has already meant that we have been able to spend time in the garden when it was too cold to be out. Due to the positioning of the Summer House, when in there we have views of two areas of the garden that we cannot see at all when in the bungalow. For this reason we have always viewed them as “dead” areas and never really bothered with them. Sat in the Summer House, particularly after dark when the lights amongst the planting come on, we can now see the fabulous woodland walk that Mark designed for the land behind the garage and the “secret garden” behind the extension which will be our shaded seating area in very hot weather. Other stand out bits are the fabulous water feature in the middle of the back garden (cat says “thank you” for his new outdoor water dish!)
Perhaps what is now most exciting is that this is only the beginning of our new garden. A bit like a new baby, we will see the now young planting grow and mature over what we hope will be the next 20 plus years, years when we may well be choosing to increasingly stay at home. We were clear from the start that what we wanted was a garden to sit in and enjoy and not one that relied on us doing a lot of actual gardening. Mark definitely delivered the garden of our dreams. I could write so much more!
We live in an idyllic setting, in a renovated cottage. Our garden was traditional and cottagey but had become overgrown and inaccessible in places. Due to my husband’s increasing disability and our lack of time to garden, we needed a fully accessible garden which needed little maintenance.
As soon as I emailed Mark and had a chat to him I knew he was the right Garden Designer for us. He came to our house where we discussed our plans, our situation and our dreams for the garden moving forward. Mark instantly understood what we needed, got our style and our budget. We asked for a garden with a Dungeness theme, with lots of ‘cottagey’ flowers and something you wouldn’t expect when you saw our house. Quite a tall order. When we saw the plans and mood boards we were blown away. Mark helped us source a garden Landscaper and drew up all the structural plans as well as plans for the planting and lighting. He even sent us furniture ideas.
Mark has not only given us back a garden but has given us a destination to go to without us ever having to leave home. We have used our outside space more than we ever did before. Gardening is now a joy, not a chore. The lighting means we have been able to use the garden in the evening. We’ve star gazed from the built-in seating, we’ve held light shows and eaten outside even in the depths of winter. Mark nailed our brief and then some.
I can’t describe how much our Mark Lane designed garden means to us both. Its enhanced our lives beyond anything we could have imagined.
Mark created an amazing garden space for all our family to enjoy. We set him a difficult task of creating a space with many functions : office, football, relaxing spaces and suitable for a young dog. Mark worked with us from the beginning and was a delight to work with. He was always available for questions and worked closely with the landscapers. He has an incredible knowledge of planting and also created us a plant care guide. We are over the moon with the end result and love spending time in our new garden. Mark comes highly recommended from the whole family, including the dog !
My Wife and I are so happy we chose Mark to design our garden. we specified a contemporary feel , also with an area ideal for entertaining. Mark has excellent plant knowledge and vision. He communicated with us the whole way through the project allowing us to make any changes along the way. It has been wonderful watching it all come together.
We rate Mark Lane Designs 5 out of 5.
My husband and I are absolutely delighted with our garden. Mark paid attention to everything we asked for.
It was a rather large project to undertake as we own a large property situated in four acres of grounds. We asked for many garden rooms and for the garden design to be in keeping with the traditional feel of the building. Mark delivered this perfectly.
Mark’s eye for detail and creativity has created a truly spectacular garden for us to enjoy.
We highly recommend Mark and have passed his details on to all of our friends.
We are so happy with the garden design and planting design schemes that Mark has done for us. His design skills and knowledge of plants is incredible.
Right from the start Mark was so helpful, from the moment we met him we were put at ease by his professionalism and manner. He was always available, either by phone or through site visits and had some amazing ideas. The drawings he provided helped our contractor create the perfect space for us. He even provided 3D renders of how the garden would look later in its life.
We would highly recommend Mark to anyone.
Mark has designed my garden over the past 3 years as and when budget permitted. I agreed with Mark that we would split the design process in to 3 stages. The first stage was the hard landscaping, including re-scultping of the banks of the small lake to create a boardwalk around the edge and plants that suited these conditions. The second stage was the veggie patch, the restoration of an old wooden greenhouse and the design and creation of meandering paths around large flower beds, filled with cottage garden plants, all carefully selected by Mark. The last stage was to re-design the tired looking patio by lifting and re-laying the existing slabs, creating new raised beds to soften the edges and to unify the space with the rest of the garden. It is now the perfect, intimate dining and relaxation space right outisde the back of my house.
I have already recommended Mark to friends and family, and would happily do so again to anyone in need of a great garden designer.
if you are ever in need of help planning a small cottage garden with a traditiona