Charlotte Rowe Garden Design

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Charlotte Rowe Garden Design's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Charlotte Rowe Garden Design is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Founder and Managing Director
Charlotte Rowe
Small courtyard in central
London with a fire place
and outdoor shower,
photo credited to Marianne
Charlotte Rowe Garden Design was established in 2004 by
newly qualified landscape designer Charlotte Rowe after
a long career in marketing and communications. They
primarily design gardens and terraces for private clients, with
much of their work conducted in London from their London
base. However, around half of their projects are now in other
parts of the country, and they have designed and made over
200 gardens as far afield as Somerset, Yorkshire, Hampshire,
Oxfordshire and Anglesey, as well in the US, France and Italy.
Founder Charlotte Rowe explains their commitment to client
service and the effect of Brexit uncertainty.
We offer a full-service design consultancy, from small urban courtyards and
roof terraces up to large-scale rural landscapes, including the design concept
development, planting plans, full specifications, working drawings, construction
management and garden styling. Over the years, we have built a reputation for
creating classic contemporary gardens and landscapes that are strongly architectural
with good “bone structure” and careful detailing, offset by soft planting. We are
also recognised for our garden lighting and bespoke waterfeatures.
We follow clearly defined design principles and aim to reflect the style, decoration
and colour palette of our client’s home to ensure a strong visual relationship
between the architecture of the house and the outside spaces. At the same time, we
never forget the client, and my previous career in client management in marketing
and communications has led to a company ethos where client service is a priority.
We work collaboratively with our clients, listening to their needs to ensure that the
»Founder and Managing
Director: Charlotte Rowe
»Established in 2004
»Based in west London
»Services: Landscape
architecture and garden
»No. of employees: 6
»Multi-award-winning practice,
including a Gold medal at the
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Charlotte Rowe
Garden Design
Highlighting best practice
design brief is clear and interpreted
correctly in the finished plan.
All team members work on all
aspects of a design project under
my leadership. This starts with the
initial development of the design
brief with our client, the sketch and
landscape master plan, all construction
drawings, the supervision of works
on site and finally the planting and
sourcing of furniture and pots. This
works well both for the design team
and for our clients and means that we
develop long-standing relationships
with clients, often working on other
projects with them in future years.
Since our studio was established 15
years ago, the business has grown
steadily. Over 12 years, we have
grown from one person to six people,
including four designers, based at the
same studio in west London since 2008.
As many similar practices comprise
only one or two people, this means we
are one of the larger design studios
working in the private residential client
sector. Our business model differs from
some smaller practices, as a large part
of our income is derived from project
supervision and the supply of plants and
garden styling elements such as pots
and furniture, rather than simply design.
Design is in the detail
Our gardens are at the higher end
of the market – we use premium
materials, and our finish and detailing,
particularly in small town gardens, are
on a par with the finish of a kitchen or
bathroom. It is mainly for this reason
that we are particularly fussy about
working with a small selection of
highly skilled professional landscape
contractors and also insist on project
managing all our garden builds.
One of our landmark projects was a
600-square metre garden in outer
London. The client’s brief was to
create a formal structured garden
with a raised terrace, a lawn, a water
feature and clipped planting with no
colour apart from green. The result
is a restrained and elegant garden
including a fireplace arbour, a gravel
pétanque court using layered hedging,
26 mature trees, which were planted
as part of the soft landscaping, and
structural cloud planting.
A recently completed design is on a
five-acre site in an Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty in Oxfordshire. We
were commissioned in 2014 to create
a new garden around a large architect-
designed new-build house. Due to
Panoramic view of large
courtyard in a recently
completed Oxfordshire
We use
materials, and
our finish and
in small town
gardens, are
on a par with
the finish of a
kitchen or
the sensitivity of the site, there were
many planning and environmental
issues that had to be considered during
its design and creation. A number of
zones have been created, including a
large central courtyard that unites the
main house, the pool building and the
garage and serves as a key functioning
outdoor space in itself, as well as a
visual link between the contemporary-
style house and the landscape and
gardens beyond. A hundred trees
have been planted around the site
and a vegetable garden and gravel
terrace have been installed, as well as
a number of large planting beds and
wildflower meadows.
Brexit and the future
Brexit, deal or no deal, presents
a number of challenges to many
SMEs like us. Apart from the general
uncertainty that has swirled around
since June 2016, our business has been
particularly affected, as our gardens
are at the top end of the market and
our clients are generally professionals
or high-net-worth individuals, with
many of them non-UK citizens.
Although much of our work is now
outside London, the state of the
property market has meant that less
“bread and butter” design work has
been available in the capital over the
past year.
Perhaps more worrying long term
is that apart from me, the other
three designers in our team are from
overseas – Poland, France and Japan.
It is interesting that most of the highly
skilled professionals applying for work
with our design studio during 2017/8,
58 per cent, were from outside the
UK, with most of these from mainland
Europe. Any restrictions to free
recruitment will affect us enormously
from 1 January 2021, deal or no deal,
as we would need to carry out full
labour market searches and comply
with the new skills-based immigration
system. Similarly, skills shortages will
affect many landscape contractors, as
most of the highly skilled landscapers
are from central Europe.
Biosecurity is now a serious frontline
issue, as more and more plant diseases
and bugs are being brought into
this country through the large-scale
importation of plants. Over £1 billion
worth of plants are imported each
year, mainly from northern Europe,
with very few safeguards. Many
industry organisations, including the
RHS and the Woodland Trust, are now
calling for a visa system, which will
require more-stringent restrictions.
Although we welcome this, as many
pests and diseases, particularly to trees
such as our native ash, are causing
havoc with many of our woodlands, it
will mean that we will have to select
less-mature specimens available here in
the UK, as currently many of the trees
we supply our clients are imported.
Even though garden design is a highly
specialised and niche sector, these
challenges illustrate how any decision
made at Westminster affects even the
smallest of businesses.
Most of the
highly skilled
applying for
work with our
design studio
2017/18 were
from outside
the UK, with
most of these
from mainland
Raised terrace in formal
garden in London, photo
credited to Marianne

This article was sponsored by Charlotte Rowe Garden Design. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster