Scottish Garden Design Competition Finalists

Scone Palace Garden Fair launched the very exciting Scottish Garden Design Competition earlier this year to give an opportunity to anyone with a love of gardening, from weekend hobbyist to professional gardener, modern social media star to old school allotmenteer, garden designers to horticultural students at the start of their career, the chance to showcase their garden design talent.

The quality of the design entries was outstanding and the judges had an extremely hard time narrowing the pool of entrants to just 10 finalists who will go on to create their garden for display at Scone Palace Garden Fair on 2nd and 3rd June 2023.

The size of plot open for design is 2.4m by 2.4m, or 4.8m x 1.2m in size to make it affordable and manageable to as many entrants as possible. Garden designs of this size may also be seen as more relatable and achievable to the vast majority of attendees at the Scone Palace Garden Fair 2023.

There will be awards made by the judges to the Scottish Garden Design Competition winner, and to the People’s Choice winner, as voted across the two days at Scone Palace Garden Fair by attendees.

So let’s meet the finalists!

Finalist: Jessica Joyce

Garden Name: ‘Sumi-E’, meaning ‘Ink Painting’ in Japanese

Inspiration: Japanese gardens that were influenced by Zen Buddhism, which arrived in Japan from China around the same time as ink painting. Both heavily influenced garden design, and vice-versa, as many of the gardens were created by monks who were also disciplined in the art of sumi-e as a form of mindful meditation. The garden is dedicated to mental health and well-being. 

Planting: I’ve chosen to feature black irises and lilies to represent the black Sumi ink used in Sumi-E paintings. They’ll be planted along with other plants traditionally used in Japanese gardens. 

About Me: After completing a bachelor’s degree in Art History, I did a Master’s degree in Museum and Gallery Studies. I wanted to expand my practice in Outreach & Education to include Art Therapy and study the potential of museums as spaces for well-being. I am also an artist and have been oil painting for many years. Art very much inspires my gardening. My garden in Falkirk has been a creative journey and work in progress for a decade now. I love the learning process of growing my own garden – it went from a blank canvas to one that reflects me and my interests.

Follow: on Instagram at @BohemianRootsGarden

Finalist: Chelsea Lowe

Garden Name: ‘The Gloaming Garden’

Inspiration: My design is a garden that captures the magic of twilight, the luminous nature of the gloaming. It is a buffer to the grind of the modern workday, holding a liminal space for wellness and wildness at the beginning and end of each day. It is a place to reflect and reconnect, that is rich with an alchemy of plants that have been historically known to have special properties. Both beautiful and reverential, it is a pagan paradise that celebrates our symbiosis with nature. My design was inspired by the light at dusk, the poetic nuance in old words, and gardens as healing spaces, as well as by wild walks, foraging, and plant craft. 

About Me: I am a professional gardener and planting designer in Glasgow, who is passionate about plants, people, and sustainability. I’m a graduate of the WFGA Practical Horticultural Apprenticeship, and trained under the Head Gardener and Horticultural Therapist at Horatio’s Garden Scotland. I believe our connection to the earth is crucial to our wellbeing, and I love to help people find ways to bring nature into their lives. 

Follow: on Instagram and Facebook @gardensbychelsea

Finalist: Kate McClorey

Garden Name: ‘A Sensory Courtyard Retreat’

Inspiration: This garden was inspired by my frustration at seeing many small, urban courtyards or spaces outside flats and tenements that are paved over or used as a rubbish space with no opportunity for wildlife to thrive, or people to escape from city life. Often these small gloomy spaces can appear dark and unwelcoming and too hard to grow plants in.

My garden is intended to show how ‘difficult’ shady spaces can be turned into a haven for wildlife and for people – even allowing us to grow edibles and herbs whilst being surrounded by a calm, scent-filled environment. I want my garden to inspire others and show that for a relatively low cost, utilising reclaimed materials, we can green our city environments, improving our own quality of life, and encouraging biodiversity even in small shady corners.

Planting: The garden is planted up with mainly green, shade-loving, foliage plants, with white flowers to create a restful retreat.  

About Me: I have always loved gardening and designed my own garden, as well as for friends and family, and decided to take the plunge and turn my hobby into a career. I studied during lockdown gaining my RHS Level 2, and then did a 6 month course at RBGE in Practical Gardening to help back up the theory. I was really lucky to secure a place as a WRAGS trainee at Floors Castle in Kelso in December 2021, and was made a permanent member of the gardening team in summer 2023 and I absolutely love it!

Follow: on Instagram @myyearat_floors 

Finalist: Claire Ross, Euan Buttercase, and Liam Brookes

Garden Name: ‘Le Jardin Des Parfumeurs’

Inspiration: Based on a French Perfumer’s Garden, using the fragrant plants that perfumers in the south of France would use to make their perfumes. The main elements take inspiration from the perfume making process through its fragrant and colourful plants, metal rods, and perfume droplet shaped path. The element of water within the perfume production is represented by a curved water bowl and water catchers.

All the plants can be grown in Scotland as well as in the south of France. Overall, the garden has been designed to inspire Scottish gardeners to bring fragrance and colour to their gardens, with the added benefit that these plants are rich in pollen and nectar attracting bee and insect pollinators.  

About Us: We are three garden design students studying at the Scotland’s Rural College in Edinburgh. Claire designed the garden and planting scheme, Euan is working on the garden’s website, and Liam is taking on specialist operations for the garden.

Finalist: Laura Currie

Garden Name: The Wellbeing Garden 

Inspiration: The garden has an orange and purple colour theme for a sense of warmth and happiness. The relaxing sound of running water fills the covered seating area at one end of the garden and looks towards a stand of fruit trees at the far end. There’s a water butt to help collect water for the plants. The flowering perennial planting along the pathway provides food for pollinators, and bee hotels give shelter for solitary bees. The bird feeders and hedgehog house aim to attract more wildlife, and give human visitors to the garden a view that’s full of life. 

Follow: on Instagram @lauracurriephotography

Finalist: Matthew Gardiner, Conor Parker, and Stuart Petrie

Garden Name: ‘Scotland In Extreme’ 

Inspiration: With climate change upon us, it was important to start looking at how this will affect our gardens and the plants we are able to grow within them. The garden shows the extremes from dry, hot summers to wet, mild winters, and how we can design in ways to compliment these conditions. It is important that we look to the future, and that we are ready to deal with the challenges that climate change may bring. The design strikes a balance between the contrasting environments, whilst creating an aesthetically pleasing and functional garden. 

Planting: The design showcases an array of alpine plants displayed in a mountain of stone troughs and crevice garden, which leads you down the cascading waters into the wet boggy area. 

About Us: Mathew Gardiner, Conor Parker, and Stuart Petrie have been working hard to create the garden by gathering recycled materials and growing the selection of plants. They have all completed an NC in ‘Horticulture with Landscape Construction’ and are currently studying an HNC in ‘Landscape Management’ at SRUC Oatridge. All three students are currently working in the industry and building on their own businesses. 

Follow: on Facebook at SRUCOatridge. SRUC provides a range of courses including ‘Landscape Management’, ‘Horticulture’, and ‘Garden Design’ at NC, HNC, and HND levels.

Finalist: Susan White

Garden Name: ‘Quarry/Laurie Crevice Garden’ 

Inspiration: I am a volunteer gardener at Quarry Park in Brightons, Falkirk, and I have based my design on the history of the park. Quarry Park, also known as Laurie Park, was mined from as early as the 18th century, supplying sandstone for local buildings. Stone was also shipped by canal to help build Edinburgh New Town. 

This park has very undulating contours showing some clues to its history, and I’m using sandstone in 3 different forms in the design: a large boulder representing unhewn rock, dressed sandstone to suggest a window, and random slabby sandstone to form a crevice garden which will provide a nice home for lots of rockery plants.

Embedded in the garden will be some old stone working tools, and old discarded gardening tools, laid in the direction of the strata, which references both the old quarry and its purpose now, as a public park and garden. The garden will be welcomed back to Quarry/Laurie Park after the competition.

About Me: I am an artist and trained as a textile designer, and in later life as a garden designer. I’m a member of Scottish Society of Botanical Artists, and a member of the Scottish Rock Garden Club. I am a passionate gardener and look after my own garden and allotment as well as volunteering as a gardener at Quarry Park, and at T.C.V. Jupiter Wildlife Centre in Grangemouth. 

Follow: on Facebook and Instagram @intheKnittedGarden

Finalist: Kristyna Barko and Max Leslie

Garden Name: ‘Scones at Scone’ Edible Garden …for the love of the Earth and Afternoon Tea! 

Inspiration: We are both fascinated by the symbiotic relationships that we each discover in nature. Daily we witness animals, fungi, and plants that depend on each other for survival and nourishment. The Edible Garden was born from these observations and aims to create a supportive environment for both food-growing and encouraging pollinators and biodiversity, as well as becoming a space for mindfulness and connection to nature.

Our design plays with the much loved tea and cake ritual many of us enjoy. It is simple, yet thoughtful and complex. It is gentle on land and pocket. Hopefully, everyone will find their own inspiration in there. We specifically created the edible garden with plants that most of us know as ornamental perennials, but that are in fact edible and used to be a crucial part of our diet. A permaculture garden does not equal messy and chaotic: it can be beautiful, fun, and yet full of ingredients for your favourite dish or cake.

About Us: We are budding horticulturists who love plants and home-made food, and who have come to call Scotland our home. Kristyna is an award-winning professional garden designer, who founded Reconnect Garden Design Ltd. in 2022 and Max is an experienced educator and established Food Gardening Ltd. We both bring different skills to the table which help us to be creative, efficient, and have fun while learning from one another. 

Follow on Instagram @reconnect_gardendesign and

Finalist: Lizzie and Malcolm Schofield

Garden name: ‘Through the Looking Glass’

Inspiration: Our garden was inspired by the Netflix show ‘Stranger Things’. We were fascinated by the idea of a mysterious alternate dimension, existing in parallel with ours, that has much of the same features, but is dark and brooding. This metaphor, we have explored by creating a garden with two opposite perspectives with identical features. One, however, is bathed in light, and the other brooding in shade. These realms are connected/divided by a ‘looking glass’ gateway. The plants that inhabit each world are reflective of the environment, and sets the challenge of how each aspect can provide unique interest and intrigue. You might even meet a demogorgon!

Follow on Instagram @cuthbertsbrae_gardens

Leave a Reply