Adam Vetere

Adam Vetere

Adam Vetere garden construction


Although we are currently living in unprecedented times, there will be many aspects of the lockdown we shall remember with some fondness. The positivity and togetherness reflected in the #WeRemember video encapsulates wonderfully some of these moments. It talks of ‘moments of stillness and creativity’, ‘stopping and being present’, ‘thinking outside the box’ and ‘dreaming of new things and reinventing old ways’.

You might be wondering what this has to do with this particular feature on ‘Ask The Designer’. Well, with people working from home and spending more time in their outdoor spaces, we have seen a significant increase in enquiries through the website and general website traffic. We anticipate that this increase is partly because people have had more time on their hands to browse the internet, but moreover because people have discovered the ‘sheer joy’ of the outdoors and the positive impact it has had on their mental well-being during this challenging time. Their outdoor spaces have become an even more important extension of their indoor living spaces and of course, the glorious weather has helped! This coupled with the plethora of garden makeover programmes on TV, has fuelled and inspired people to want to ‘get more creative’ with their outdoor spaces.

Garden construction

In June’s copy of Pro Landscaper, a publication for garden and landscape professionals, several articles were featured illustrating all the above. Recent RHS research shows ‘that nearly six in ten people (57%) now value their gardens more than previously. More than half (51%) said they will value their garden more after lockdown.’ Post-lockdown, emerging trends might see more people wanting to work from ‘home offices’ in their outdoor spaces, growing fruits and vegetables in dedicated spaces, creating outdoor grown-up living rooms for relaxation and more sophisticated cooking spaces for entertaining family and friends.

We asked Adam to share with you the ‘real’ costs involved in turning your dreams of a new outdoor space into reality and how the expertise of a garden designer can add genuine value to your home.


“Clients do have widely varying budgets. They can be anything from £5,000 to £200,000. I will come back to what you can expect from a smaller budget later. Whilst cost is unique to each garden design and is significantly influenced by the site’s size, drainage, aspect and accessibility for groundworks, the following table is a rough, illustrative guide as to what you can potentially expect from the services of a reputable landscape contractor, using mid-range quality building/landscape products.”

Garden Construction Costs

Please note:
The above guide does not take into account sites where access may be limited/poor. As a rough guide, the costs can double or even triple, especially in a city centre location, with limited parking, access and working restrictions. This would reflect increased labour costs for manual clearing of the site and/or specialist equipment hire, such as cranes to lift equipment into the rear garden.

The above table is a rough, illustrative guide as to what you can potentially expect to pay.

What can I expect to pay for the professional expertise of a garden and landscape designer?

“As a rough guide, in addition, you can expect to pay between 8-15% of the total construction cost for garden and landscape design services. The garden design process has three distinct phases, from initial concepts and designs to fine detailing, constructional drawings and planting designs and finally the selection of a preferred contractor and the construction of the garden.”

Garden design and construction

Does a well-designed and constructed garden add value to my home?

“Most definitely! The skills and expertise of an experienced garden and landscape designer are paramount in creating a strong and coherent garden design. Construction by an equally reputable and experienced landscape contractor is key in successfully delivering this vision. A well-designed and constructed garden can potentially increase your property’s market value by 10-15%. Garden appeal is well-documented when trying to sell your property.”

3D garden design

What size gardens do you normally design?

I would say a majority of the gardens which I fully design cost between £20,000 - £200,000. However, for smaller gardens or clients just wanting to rejuvenate their herbaceous borders, then the cost can often be less.

What can I expect and achieve from having a smaller budget?

“Some recent enquiries through my design website have been potential clients, with budgets of about £5000, keen to redesign and construct their dream outdoor space. When I explain that the groundwork costs alone of clearing a site, removing soil and/or undertaking drainage works could exceed this, I understand their dismay and surprise with the figures. I have lost count of the number of times clients have said, “I really had no idea of the costs involved.”

Unfortunately, the garden makeover programmes on TV do little to educate people on the ‘real’ costs involved in designing and constructing new spaces. Seldom do they highlight the actual design and labour costs of landscape and garden professionals, not to mention groundworks, the hire of machinery and time expenses associated with mandatory Health & Safety Regulations and Risk Assessments for sites.

Whilst a smaller budget is not going to afford you a significant hard-landscaping project, what can be achieved is a partial redesign and/or new planting plan for rejuvenating a small, existing outdoor space.”

Ravine garden construction

How can a garden designer be of value when you have a small budget?

“I would strongly recommend a half/whole day garden and landscape design consultation, even with a smaller budget. For £250-£400, I can visit to discuss your initial thoughts about your outdoor space and its future direction. I will assess your site, considering factors such as soil type, drainage, aspect, prevailing winds and micro-climate. Following our discussions, I would then advise you on how I think you could best spend your budget. I might suggest a phased approach to redesigning your outdoor space or a simple planting design scheme to improve your existing space. By the end of the consultation process, you will have a better understanding and vision for how to move forward with your plans.”

Planting bed design and construction



Welcome to my garden and I hope you enjoy the tour!

I designed the garden in 2009 after the completion of the house and we started construction of the gardens in 2010. I say we, as it was largely a family affair – the projected construction costs for the entire garden were approximately £500k so we tackled it ourselves! A majority of the construction was finished by the latter half of 2016, with further projects developed in 2018/19 with the completion of the Orto, and in 2021 I expect to have a brand new Contemporary Courtyard Garden completed.

The garden is located in north Hampshire between Newbury and Basingstoke and benefits from a southerly facing aspect on a gentle slope, a fertile soil with an acidic ph, good drainage and a fabulous micro-climate which allows for the growth of some very interesting planting schemes, as you will see.

Adam Vetere familyAdam (centre) in the garden with his family

WhatIDo image 1


Garden design inspiration can literally come from anywhere, be it a song you enjoy listening to, a piece of art, a place you have visited, even something as simple as the form of an everyday object. There are no restraints as to what a garden designer can draw from to turn a mere thought into a reality. These days the internet can be an endless ocean for design inspiration ideas, but quite often it is in those moments of mindful contemplation that a thought is ignited in the designer’s mind.

We asked Adam to share with you where his sources of garden design inspiration come from in his landscape and garden design work. He will also be sharing how he turned a ‘mere thought into a reality’, as illustrated in the garden design projects he has worked on below.

"Clients often enlist the services of a garden designer to give them the inspiration they need to create a beautiful outdoor space, which enhances their home and fulfils their needs for outdoor living."

In the initial consultation process, whilst listening to the clients’ needs, Adam also uses it as an opportunity to ask a lot of questions in order to get to know them – their interests, hobbies, occupations and so on.

Garden Design Inspiration

"In these moments, a thought might be ignited and one which has collaboratively sparked the garden design thought process."

Following the initial client meeting Adam also investigates and researches the history of the site and/or the local surroundings. This aids him in "better understanding the essence and soul of a place." Again, inspiration can be kindled from either the historical and/or geographical contexts within which the site lies.

So, we have our inspiration, what next?

The real skill is in harnessing the initial design inspiration ideas to create a strong and coherent landscape and/or garden design. Adam also draws upon his own expertise, skills, life experiences, knowledge, and exposure to the inspiring works of others to deliver his vision for his clients’ brief.

Adam says, "More recently, many clients are looking for a modern or contemporary garden design." This can be achieved by interpreting the garden design inspiration in a manner to deliver the brief as set by the client.



A commercial events venue primarily used for weddings.

The 'Big Idea' and inspiration behind this design started life as the union of the rings or interlocking rings, as would be seen in many wedding ceremonies.

Adam created a strong, contemporary design for spatial definition, whilst bringing a warmth back into the venue's gardens, through the planting schemes. The garden design had to deliver on style, accessibility and tranquillity in equal measure.

Interlocking Rings Garden Design Inspiration

Interlocking Rings Garden Design Drawing

Garden Design Proposal - Axonometric View

The garden plan (Axonometric View) best illustrates the strong interlocking rings design from above. The end result: a sharp/modern garden design which fully met the requirements of the client.

Interlocking Rings Garden Design Drawing

Garden Design Proposal - The Bold Move

Garden Plan in bottom left corner highlights in blue:

  • View looking NE from the SW corner of the Outdoor Reception area
  • Eye is lead along the rill to the focal point in the NE corner
  • Joins two major parts of the garden together in a contemporary garden design style.


The garden design inspiration for the main structure of this garden came from the world- renowned Japanese Architect Tadao Ando and his stark concrete creation at the University of Monterey in Mexico.

Adam took the striking offset angles from cast concrete to develop a highly dynamic and contemporary garden design, much to the delight of the garden's architect owners.

The quality of the design comes from its minimalist simplicity. This is echoed in the planting scheme. Adam chose 'green architecture' with a softer palette of year round herbaceous planting, like that of the work of Jacques Wirtz, Belgian Landscape Architect.

Minimalism Garden Design Inspiration

Minimalism Garden Design Proposal

Garden Design Proposal - Axonometric View

Aerial view of the rear garden, looking in a southerly direction.

Adam chose a B&W rendering to better show the structure of the garden, highlighting the central retaining walls, Bocce Path, The Return, Ando's Steps and Wirtz's Lawn.

A contemporary garden design interpretation from the works of Ando and Wirtz.

Minimalism Garden Design Proposal

Design Proposal - View from The Return, looking south

Standing at the top of The Return, looking south along The Steps and towards the The Bowl and Bench.

The planting is shown in late spring, as the Alliums, Nepeta and Euphorbia are in full swing. Under The Balcony the Hachonochloa flanks the Wirtz Lawn and The Water Feature. The polished concrete steps drop 100mm per step and lead you gracefully down to the lawn.


The Client Brief:

"We want a wonderful space for entertaining, enjoying the garden and nature, areas for the children (and adults) to play, fruit and veg production and areas to relax so that we may enjoy the stunning views."

Having spent considerable discussion time in the initial consultation with his clients, Adam learnt that both owners were avid gin fans. Entertaining family, friends and sometimes clients would play an integral part of how they wanted to use their new outdoor space.

Interlocking Rings Garden Design Inspiration

The garden design inspiration for this energetic and dynamic design was found in Thomas Heatherwick's glasshouses at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Hampshire. Stunning pieces of architecture which flow and morph into fluid organic shapes.

"The energy within this design is uplifting; the supporting bars distort into a central focus point as they enter the building. It is so dynamic, it never seems to stop...wonderful!" (Adam)

Interlocking Rings Garden Design Drawing

Design Evolution - Garden Design Plan

The plan elevation was scaled at 1:50 @ A1.

Interlocking Rings Garden Design Drawing

Garden Design Evolution - Aerial View

To gain an idea of the space, mass and void over such a large area, Adam pulled together an aerial view looking in a southerly direction. At this altitude you can understand the flow and dynamics of the design and the graduation of the scheme from the front garden to the back.


Download the full article to read more about the inspiration for some of Adam's past projects.




So, what is a Contemporary Woodland Wildflower Meadow? Well, think of those iconic pictures of lazy summer days with seas of flowers and grass gently dancing beneath the orchard canopy above.

Now, integrate some structured geometry and some strong lines and you have the makings of A Contemporary Woodland Wildflower Meadow.


Inspiration for the garden was sought from the client’s dominant sculpture which resides as a centre piece in the formal heart of the garden. More precisely, the distinctive geometric shapes would generate the focus for the design.

The client’s brief was to create a woodland screen in the lower part of their garden, which would integrate into the larger garden as a whole, but there were clear instructions not to add any additional perennial borders as maintenance was to be kept to a minimum. However, trees alone do not create a beautiful design.


Therefore, to offset the underlying strong geometric style of the design, billowing wildflower meadow beds would bring interest to the lower levels of the design. They will add interest from May to October when they receive their final cut of the year, but spring bulbs will extend the season from January to April. In order to highlight the core structure of the design while the meadow beds are dormant, geometric yew hedges were added.


The wildflower meadow mix was designed to thrive in the partial shade created by the trees above, with a ratio of 85% to 15% perennials to grasses. The mix was as follows:


  • Autumn Hawkbit (Scorzoneroides autumnalis)
  • Betony (Stachys officinalis)
  • Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
  • Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris)
  • Cats Ear (Hypochaeris radicata)
  • Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)
  • Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
  • Common Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. segetalis)
  • Common Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)
  • Cowslip (Primula veris)
  • Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)
  • Greater Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus)
  • Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum)
  • Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)
  • Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense)
  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
  • Musk Mallow (Malva moschata)
  • Ox Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
  • Perforate St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)
  • Red Campion (Silene dioica)
  • Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
  • Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor)
  • Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
  • Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca)
  • Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)
  • Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare)
  • Wild Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • White Campion (Silene latifolia)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


  • Crested Dogstail (Cynosurus cristatus)
  • Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina)

Providing mid-level interest, was the addition of multi-stemmed Amelanchier and Taxus baccata to provide a Segway between the lower meadow and the tree canopy above, plus added interest in the winter and spring, as the Amelanchier bursts into flower.


The trees themselves were limited to three varieties to resonate with the contemporary nature of the design. Firstly, the Betula jacquemontii ‘Grayswood Ghost’ was selected for its beautiful white trunk, which contrasts magnificently with the evergreen Taxus baccata hedges and balls.

Secondly, Prunus serrula was selected again for the colour of its bark, this time an intense golden bronze which radiates in the low winter sun. It also has the added interest of spring blossom too.

Thirdly, Malus ‘Evereste’ was selected as a fruiting tree which would reconcile with the collection of old English apples already present within the garden, plus it has the added benefit of wonderful spring blossom.


As a designer, the vision to create A Contemporary Woodland Wildflower Meadow sits within my mind, but it has to be clearly delivered to the client. To do this, it had to be modelled in 3D and rendered in a photo realistic style, visualising the finished article within the current garden of the client. The finished images were delivered to the client within the Outline Design Package.

contemporary meadow 9





While sat in Louise Wells’ beautiful garden one balmy, summer evening in July, she recommended the garden at Hauser and Wirth’s Gallery in Bruton, Somerset. Why? She had just visited the 1.5 acre prairie garden/perennial meadow designed by Piet Oudulf, the internationally-renowned landscape designer from the Netherlands.

Louise is an accomplished plants-person and it therefore came highly recommended, as what she doesn’t know about plants isn’t worth knowing!

We, Heidi and I, finally found time to visit in mid-September one Friday morning and after battling with the traffic on the A303, we finally arrived just before lunch. We had hoped to visit the garden and gallery, but unfortunately the latter was closed for the day while they were updating the display. Oh well, we’ll just have to come back in the future!

Before taking in the gardens, we decided to stop for some lunch in Roth Bar & Grill – I have to say, it was worth the 1.5hrs in the car just for lunch; wonderful, fresh cooked food served in a charming restaurant.


Once fed and watered, we then turned our attention to the gardens and wow, we weren’t disappointed! Even though they had passed their best and looking at the planting schemes, I’d say July and August are the best months to visit.

We strode in and were overwhelmed by the scale and artistry of the planting; flowing drifts of purples, pinks, blues, whites and a sea of gold. The scheme is relaxed yet flows with a symmetry through the sweeping beds which mirror the shape of the Radic pavilion at the end of the site. Truly a site to behold. Garden design executed with style and simplicity, yet with a hidden detail – a masterpiece.


In summary, Oudulf Field is a large, perennial meadow that sits behind the gallery. Carefully shaped and planted, the garden echoes the tradition of classical gardens, but the variety of species and combination of plants creates a looseness, softening the overall formality of its appearance.


What makes it doubly special is the conditions of its birth. If ever there were a difficult year to create a garden from nothing more than a bare field surrounded by hedges, it was 2014. Months of relentless rain in the wettest winter on record reduced the soil to a quagmire, followed by weeks of drought, just when the 26,000 plants grown at Orchard Dene Nursery in Oxfordshire were getting established. But, despite all this – and thanks also to the glorious, late summer and the hard work of Petherick, Urquhart & Hunt, the landscapers, as well as Mark Dumbleton, Durslade’s head gardener – the team pulled off one of the most exciting new gardens in the country.

Wide canopied trees have been planted between the gallery and garden to frame the view. The surrounding hedges provide a sense of enclosure, whilst the views of the hills and fields beyond remain visible. We stood along the north west boundary and looked east, taking in the rolling hills beyond, which cleverly added height to the gardens without having to add any real height to the planting scheme.


A series of paths cut through the borders, like a hot knife through butter, inviting visitors to wander through the garden. Piet’s design continues across the whole site too, enticing the visitor into the inner cloister courtyard where the buildings, old and new meet.

I have to say, as a garden designer, anyone who decides to visit, will be inspired. I have come away with more ideas for prairie planting, perennial schemes, improved use of grasses and inspiration to fuel my future garden designs for years to come.

Relaxed, refreshed and inspired, we headed back towards the A303...


Some kind words


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