Category: Landscape Design

Inspired by the stained glass depicting the heraldic achievements of members of the Parker Bowles Family, Forty Hall, Enfield, I proposed several wayfinding routes through the historic estate.


forty hall facade

The Forty Hall Estate landscape restoration project reportedly attracted £1.8 million of investment from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

I arrived onsite after the consultants and landscape designers had completed the planning stage as the contractors were about to break ground, and after the Hall itself had been repaired and refurbished through an earlier, generous HLF grant.

Regrettably, five years had elapsed since the public and onsite garden staff had been consulted about the landscape restoration proposal.

The role was to increase awareness and understanding of the local and onsite heritage and be a ‘face’ of the pre-planned restoration project: a job I would not recommend to my worst enemy.

From the surreal to the unbelievable, the down right vicious and ignorant to the plain nasty: I witnessed the petty-minded, party political game playing that has put me off local politics and Council politicians for life.

Add to that a resident unhinged animal rights protester, verbal and physical threats and the unwelcome advances of a certain stakeholder representative, I lasted just over a year before submitting my resignation.

Oh Enfield: who says the suburbs are dull !

forty hall woodcut forty hall misty urn

The walled kitchen garden at the Forty Hall Estate is arguably the best loved feature of the historic site, known to locals (who have visited the site since the Parker-Bowles family sold it to the local Council in the 1950’s) as the Rose Garden.

Despite vandalism, anti-social behaviour, sabotage, previous unsympathetic planting, the interment of human remains, unleashed dogs, grey squirrels, a skeleton staff and a free draining gravel soil, the garden continues to win Gold at the local ‘in bloom’ competitions!



volunteers 01

The Great Field of the Forty Hall Estate contains the archaeological remains of the Tudor dynasty’s Elsynge Palace, and is a listed Ancient Scheduled Monument.

Whilst conservation officer for a year I undertook ecological surveys of the site and with the help of numerous volunteers ranging from Duke of Edinburgh participants, local schools, to the wonderful Enfield Conservation Volunteers we were able to initiate site maintenance after a long pause in active management.

Enhancements and reinstatement of traditional management included new pollard planting, demonstrations of traditional hurdle construction, re-pollard existing willows around two dew ponds and removal of invasive alien Rhododendron ponticum.

Bat boxes, insect shelters, log piles and hedgehog shelters were also created by volunteers and placed around the site.

The lime tree avenue, arranged on an alignment that paralleled the numerous historic rides on adjacent Enfield Chase was enhanced by raising the canopy and removing basal suckers, as undertaken by a dedicated group of vulnerable adults and community volunteers.

volunteers 02

These images from Greenway’s website show the scheme I designed in 2003/4, and planted in 2004 at maturity. The vegetation reflects endemic and native plant communities representing sclerophyllic, maquis and garigue groups as found on the Aghios Lazarus peninsula and throughout the Cyclades. This project was the largest habitat creation/ enhancement scheme associated with  the 2004 Olympic Games.

A fun college project, proposing the re-use and development of an area of waste ground under multiple motorway fly-overs approaching central Paris. I remember the student nights out more than the site!

To commemorate the fallen of Enfield in the First World War, I coordinated and with the help of several local volunteers, cut the letters ‘Lest We Forget’ in the turf outside Forty Hall, in alignment with the long lime avenue.

The words were taken from Laurence Binyon’s poem The Fallen, which is often referred to as the Ode of Remembrance. The letters were filled with grit (as sadly the sown Flanders Poppies never grew!).

Local primary school children made windmill poppies in advance of Armistice Day and attended an event which was televised by BBC London. Photographs of the fallen soldiers of Enfield were placed in the letters.

As a landscape architecture student (in 1996), I proposed an ecological buffer zone, short rotation willow and poplar coppice, renewable energy and pastoral land use change around the existing fenland nature reserves of Wood Walton Fen and Holme Fen.

My tutors criticised the project suggesting such a large scale project: reverting hundreds of acres of grade I agricultural land to ecological and pastoral land use was unlikely to be an economic reality, and questioned ‘ecological buffer’ theory.

Years later whilst living abroad I was intrigued to hear of the Great Fen Project: linking hundreds of acres of arable fen land around the above mentioned nature reserves as a managed wetland pasture.

The black and white aerial photograph shows the ‘ghosts’ of fenland rivers as silt alluvial deposits in the peat fen, with rectilinear field boundaries of drainage ditches imposed on the landscape.

The black and white image of a large post and two ‘fen tigers’ from the inter-war years, shows the shrinkage of the peat fens through oxidation of the peat and removal of water. The top of the post was ground level in the Victorian era- the post being a column from the Great Exhibition hammered into Holme Fen to record the then ‘ground level’.

Many clients have asked to see sketchbook examples from my painting/drawing portfolio. Included here are a broad range that demonstrate (for murals etc.) the work or styles that I have used in the past and am happy to develop to a client’s brief- some are from school, others from travels including an expedition to the Arctic island of West Spitzbergen.

mykonos 09 towards helipadMy earliest memory is growing a runner bean from seed at kindergarten.This sprouting bean started my life-long passion of plants.

Since building my first greenhouse and tending to my first vegetable patch aged six, I have been designing with plants and am fortunate, truly fortunate, to have practiced my passion around the globe.

I consider inspiration gained from observing natural vegetation communities and an understanding of vertical stratification, plant tolerance ranges, behaviour and symbiosis hold the future for sustainable planting schemes for our gardens, communal landscapes and degraded habitats.