Dolia Design Developer

Dolia Design Developer

SGD Awards 2024, The Landmark Hotel, London

We are thrilled to announce that on Friday 2nd February 2024, our ‘Treetop Garden’ won two awards at the Society of Gardener Designers Awards 2024 Ceremony, The Landmark Hotel, London.

The garden won the highly coveted ‘The People’s Choice Award’, sponsored by The English Garden Magazine- the only award to be determined by public vote. It also won the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) Award for ‘Small Residential Landscapes & Gardens’.

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The inspiration for the sunken, cantilevered deck which extends over the edge of a steep escarpment within the garden’s curtilage, was sparked by the client’s love of the Rocky Mountains. The garden design and its geometry were based on the silhouette of the peaks of the Rockies - taken vertically and transposed horizontally within the space.

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The greatest challenge of the project came from the topography of the site. The five-to-six-metre vertical escarpment commanded a large area of the clients’ modest, family garden. ‘The Floating Deck’ was designed to utilise this redundant area of the garden, transforming it into a private, immersive, entertaining and relaxation zone for the clients, their family and friends to enjoy. In addition to this, the local authority had designated the escarpment as an area of ‘high biodiversity interest’. Together with the construction expertise of JJH Landscapes, we found creative ways to complete the hard landscaping required in the project away from these areas of high biodiversity, ensuring its future sustainability, whilst equally respecting the legal planning requirements of the project.

SGD Judges' Comments:

‘A lovely scheme demonstrating great skill in designing within a limited flat space at the top of a very steep site. A well-considered palette of materials, meticulously executed construction detailing and a superb level of finish. A really good piece of design.’

A Contemporary Cottage Garden

Scandinavia meets Cornwall in this contemporary cottage garden setting.

The design for the garden was inspired by the clients’ early years in Cornwall and time spent in Sweden. Features of Scandinavian design and a rock slice water feature echoing the coastline of Cornwall are core elements to the design. The whole garden was then pulled together with a 21st Century overhaul of a traditional cottage garden planting scheme. The garden was completed in two phases.


The Sanctuary Garden

The Sanctuary Garden has been designed for our client with ‘a sense of escapism’ at its design core.

Whilst the design brief was to create an exciting, dynamic outdoor space which makes a strong, structural statement in terms of both hard and soft landscaping, it also seeks to provide our client with a fully immersive space for quiet contemplation, relaxation and escapism. The planting design scheme has been carefully curated to reflect our client’s years growing up in South Africa.


A Magical Country Garden

Our client wanted us to create a ‘magical’ country garden to be journeyed through on a ‘voyage of discovery’. Core to the design was the creation of a contemplative, tranquil space for the senses, slightly wild and naturalistic in nature through the use of wildflowers, structural grasses and softer toned perennials, coupled with playful elements.


‘Pro Landscaper Project Awards 2023 - Sustainable Garden Under £50,000’

We are thrilled to announce that on Tuesday 22nd November 2023, our ‘Japanese-Inspired Garden’ won the Pro Landscaper’s Project Award for ‘Sustainable Garden Under £50,000’. Similarly, the garden also won ‘Build Under £50,000’ for our preferred Landscaping Contractor JJH Landscapes. The garden was designed in collaboration with the design expertise of Aya Takeyama.

We thought we would share some information about the conceptualisation of the design, the build and the garden’s sustainability credentials.

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The client wanted a complete redesign of her south-facing, rear garden into a sustainable, modern, and beautiful Japanese-inspired space. Her knowledge, love and appreciation of traditional Japanese design would form part of the design inspiration for a more contemporary take on traditional Japanese moss and rock gardens. The underlying geometry of the design was inspired by the offset style of a traditional Japanese ‘Yatsuhashi’ footbridge.

We wanted to extract the beauty of traditional Japanese gardens and represent it in a modern, minimalist style, leveraging the contrast of rocks and greenery within the garden. This was coupled with incorporating essential elements of Japanese garden design – rocks, water, plants and ornaments and adopting the five Japanese garden design principles – asymmetry, enclosure, borrowed scenery (Shakkei), balance and symbolism.

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Recycling and reusing the materials from the current garden was imperative, as being as environmentally friendly and as sustainable as possible was a core value for the client. Our target was to recycle and reuse 80-90% of the existing hard landscaping materials. She wished to retain her statues and garden ornaments which had sentimental value. Some of her existing plants and pots would also need to be considered for inclusion in the redesign.

Increasing biodiversity within the space was hugely important, so the soft landscaping areas within the garden were to be increased significantly.

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The construction of the garden adopted a number of sustainable methods and practices. Only one work vehicle was used by the contractors to travel to and from the site. This alleviated the very restricted parking available within such a small housing development, not to mention traffic congestion around the site, thus reducing CO2 emissions.

Heavy machinery was limited to one small mechanical digger, partly because of restricted access but also to minimise disruption to neighbours and any detrimental, physical impact on the development’s communal, open spaces.

All consumables needed on site, such as sand, cement, sub-bases etc were purchased within a mile radius of the client’s site at local industrial estates. Limiting the materials used on site also helped to reduce waste. Waste management on site involved separating and recycling waste.

During the process of ground clearance, the existing topsoil from the site was set aside for future use, minimising the need for imported topsoil. Likewise, 85% of the hard landscaping materials, the client’s Japanese statues, ornaments and existing plants were collected, cleaned and set aside for later use. From a sustainability perspective, the conserving of these garden possessions is far better for the environment than purchasing new ones.

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All pebble areas had a permeable sub-base, so all rainwater could drain into the ground within the confines of the site.

The original garden planting was restricted to mainly containerised planting and two species of invasive bamboo (since removed). The new planting scheme and its increased density was carefully chosen to improve the biodiversity of the site, attracting more pollinators and butterflies into the garden. It now accounts for 65% of the garden space. Some of the client’s existing plants were also incorporated into the new planting scheme. The topiary, evergreen shrubs, ferns and herbaceous perennials were chosen for being relatively low maintenance and drought tolerant. Long-term, they will require very minimal watering. Since completion, the client has observed a huge increase in birds, bees, butterflies and other insects now enjoying her new garden.

Rainwater is harvested to the side of the house now and an irrigation system was installed, to assist the client with the efficient use of mains water during any drought periods.

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Existing materials such as the decking, fence panels and posts had to be replaced because they were rotten. The decking was replaced with approx 6m2 of London Stone Jura Grey porcelain paving, chosen for its high quality, durability and high anti-slip rating. It was also selected for its natural appearance, which mimics natural stone in terms of texture and variation. London Stone is committed to the sustainable and ethical sourcing of its products. They are a carbon neutral company and are constantly working to reduce emissions and waste.

The patio itself was limited in size, to allow for the practical use of the space, but with the minimal use of porcelain. London Stone delivered the exact quantity of slabs to eliminate wastage and the need to move excess product from site.

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The wooden fence posts were replaced with duraposts – made from long lasting, maintenance-free, galvanised steel, boasting a 25-year guarantee. They are 100% recyclable, making them a sustainable option at the end of their working life. 80% lighter than concrete alternatives, they can be manoeuvred more quickly by hand, avoiding the need for mechanical transportation. The replacement feather edged panelling was painted black to aid longevity.

The limestone sitting rock was sourced from a farm in Somerset and had come from its redundant quarry. It was carefully selected to be both functional and to complement the muted tones of the porcelain paving and recycled hard landscaping materials.

All our designs are always underpinned by sustainability, ensuring that the client brief is met whilst limiting the impact on the local and wider environment and reducing water usage for the future. It is a core value within our design process and we are honoured to have been recognised within the landscaping industry for having successfully achieved this in our design and construction of the ‘Japanese-Inspired Garden’.

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Photos of the garden credited to Eleanor Walpole Photography.

Contemporary Rooftop Garden

Despite the challenge of incredibly restrictive weight loadings on the rooftop, an open, soulless 100m2 rooftop space has been transformed into a beautiful, contemporary roof garden, with dynamic zones for dining, relaxing and entertaining family and friends.

Inspired by the client’s eclectic mix of furniture and artwork, the design creates a seamless narrative between the interior and exterior spaces.

The Angled Garden

The challenge of an awkward shaped site was embraced in this project through the creation of terraced zones.

Inspired by the tiered garden designs of Chilean Landscape Architect, Juan Grimm, it features a more sustainable, drought tolerant planting scheme, reminiscent of the client’s homeland.

Pro Landscaper Magazine Feature

Pro Landscaper has featured ‘The Contemporary Courtyard Garden’ in its August 2023 Issue of ‘Next Tier Portfolio’.

Look at how this outdoor space was transformed from traditional cottage garden to sustainable, contemporary courtyard design.




BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair – Show Garden

Built by a team of two landscape contractors in just 16.5 hours, this small show garden showcases the contractors’ talents, technical and teamwork skills. A panel of expert assessors observed and assessed their work throughout the construction process.

Inspired by the dry garden planting of the late Beth Chatto, the design demonstrates how it is possible to boost the biodiversity of the smallest of spaces with a spectacular display of drought tolerant planting, carefully selected for their flowering longevity and seasonal interest.


BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair – Show Garden

We were asked to design a competition standard show garden for this year’s BBC Gardeners’ World Autumn Fair held at Audley End House & Gardens, Saffron Walden, Essex.

The design Inspiration has come from the two square oak panels in the Great Hall at Audley End House. We have taken their geometry, their simplicity and elegance in celebrating features of Jacobean design, but with a modern twist befitting of the 21st Century and through the creative use of shape and modern-day build materials.

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