The leading landscape architect, garden designer and GWG Award-winner on creating a garden to bring joy and tranquillity.

Marian Boswall is one of the country’s foremost garden designers and landscape architects, combining the rigours of her architectural training with the passion for nature of a plantswoman. It’s not hard to see why her work is so admired; her oases, often created in historic settings across the UK, are never anything short of sublime.

Along with a boutique team of expert horticulturalists based at her Kent studio, Marian Boswall Landscape Architects’ scope ranges from large estates and parkland to small, private gardens. The abiding refrain? The sheer joy of the landscape she’s working within and deep respect for the natural world.

Here, the winner of the GWG 2019 Best Homes and Gardens Website shares her top tips for creating a garden to foster wellbeing.

First, think about what makes you happy.

This sounds simple, but may not be so obvious. If you love light, make sure you use sunlight to full advantage in your garden. If you like to drink tea in a swing seat, perhaps you can fit one in. Or if weeding and mowing is not your thing design them out: you might try a patch of wildflower instead.

Leave a space for you to do and to be.

It’s great to have things to do like tending our plants and entertaining friends. But it’s also good to leave a space for sunbathing or yoga or somewhere quiet you can just be.

Leave space to grow something edible.

There are few things as joyful as picking and eating from the garden. Whether you have space for an apple tree, a pot of basil or a bramble in a hedge, eating is good for you!

Leave a messy corner for wildlife.

If you do so, you’ll be inviting in the birds and may even see a hedgehog. Our garden friends add hugely to our feelings of wellbeing.

Make sure your garden is a retreat and not an attack!

Ensure it allows you to stress less. If you only have five minutes each day or half-an-hour at the weekends, plan your garden to only need that much time. If you have longer and enjoy working in it, that’s wonderful too. Our gardens can give us so much joy and good health; they are good for our bodies and good for our minds too.

Marian’s Favourite Online Garden Resources:

Favourite Garden Podcast:

Gardens Weeds and Words

There are some really good ones now, but I could listen to this for Andrew O’Brien’s voice alone. His content and the guests he interviews are always outstanding, thoughtful and useful. From gardening and cooking tips to musings on why we garden, Andrew is a gardener and garden coach, so he really knows his onions.

Favourite Website For Inspiration:

Gardens Illustrated

Full of excellent ideas and informative pieces, this is much more than a coffee table publication. The photography is exquisite and the articles are always on point for inspiration and also for insight into important issues, such as sustainable ways to garden.

Favourite Site For Tools:


These Japanese tools are beautiful, made-to-last and are so light and well balanced it makes using them a joy. I swear by my shears for box cutting and my steps for pruning at height. It gives an interesting insight into some Japanese methods of flower arrangement too, with tools for the Ikebana art of flower arranging without foam.

Favourite Site For Plants For New Gardeners:

Great Dixter and Beth Chatto

We are lucky in the UK to have Beth Chatto’s garden and Great Dixter – both are both dedicated to spreading knowledge about how to garden and how important gardens are to our wellbeing and our planet. Dixter has just done a big biodiversity audit and shared all the amazing finds on the web. They both have courses through the year and great nurseries on site.

By Nancy Alsop
Updated April 2022

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.