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Garden Design by Randle Siddeley

Randle Siddeley on how garden design is changing

As our concept and use of outside space shifts, international garden designer Randle Siddeley is increasingly integrating gardens with interiors

Since the days of lockdown, we’ve craved outdoor spaces and people have increasingly reimagined their garden as a valuable second room. This has kept international garden designer Randle Siddeley busier than ever, and increasingly clients are asking him to match gardens with interiors and to design gardens that reflect the style of their houses.

Randle Siddeley has been working as a garden designer for nearly 40 years and today works globally with a team of 80, offering a full-service landscape architecture practice. He specialises in transformation so under his supervision, vast muddy fields or dingy back yards become magical green oases, lending the houses they adjoin newfound stature and beauty.  Not all challenges are grand in scale – he’ll even take on a lightwell. His designs are often excitingly innovative but always respectful of the heritage of their surroundings.

Landscaped garden by Randle Siddeley in Upper Phillimore Gardens, Kensington, London
Landscaped garden design by Randle Siddeley in Upper Phillimore Gardens, Kensington, London

Siddeley began his professional life working for his father, interior designer John Siddeley. He quickly found that designing a garden was very different to renovating a home. “With interior design, you can see fairly instantly whether a paint colour or piece of furniture works,” he says, “but with gardens, you wait months – even years – to see what effect has been achieved. A room stays static until you change something about it but with gardens, Mother Nature is in control and you never know what will happen.”

With interior design, you can see fairly instantly whether a paint colour or piece of furniture works, but with gardens, you wait months – even years – to see what effect has been achieved.

Randle Siddeley

The longer he’s worked, the more Siddeley has realised that creating outdoor living areas is not so dissimilar to interior design after all: “The landscape and trees are the structures, the shrubs are equivalent to furniture, while flowers and plants provide the soft furnishings,” he says.  

Since Covid, Siddeley is increasingly asked to “bring the inside outside” and he’s become a master at turning gardens into stunning entertainment areas. “It’s actually easier than you think to convert your garden, however small, into an outdoor room,” he says, citing the Belgravia courtyard that became a cosy jewel-box in his hands: “We erected a slender iron pergola above reassuringly expensive outdoor furniture from McKinnon and Harris and planted fragrant, flowering climbers around it to give the impression of being in a lush bower. We suspended heat strips from the top of the pergola and added a green wall with barbecue, sink worktop and fridge – even in winter, white wine and vodka need chilling.”

To blur the boundaries between outside and in and create atmosphere, Siddeley invests in lighting that flows seamlessly from house to garden. “Clever use of lighting will make a night garden magical, even in winter,” he says. “Firepits and fireplaces add comforting focal points, while sculpture or water features add drama and talking points.”

Siddeley’s belief in ‘talking points’ means he turns to artisans and artists for eye-catching products. He’s worked with renowned sculptor David Harber, known for his sundials and sphères armillaires. When Siddeley was commissioned to re-landscape a six-acre garden in Wentworth, he saw an opportunity for an ill-construed water feature to be a theatrical focus and collaborated with David to design a single Teardrop in stainless steel wickerwork. 

A garden in Hong Kong by Randle Siddeley
Above L: a tear-drop sculpture by David Harber and Randle Siddeley; bottom: five glass shards by Andrew Moore in a garden overlooking Discovery Bay, Hong Kong

In sunlight, the Teardrop’s reflective surface turns the pond a mystical deep blue and at night lighting from within makes the Teardrop appear to shimmer, suspended above water. Siddeley also placed five textured shards by specialist Andrew Moore in a Hong Kong garden, against the backdrop of Discovery Bay. The highest glass shard rises to two metres and each one suggests a beautiful sea-cold flame or giant blade of translucent grass, thrusting up towards the sky.

 Two summers ago, inspired by interior designer Nina Campbell’s iconic love seat, Siddeley and garden-furniture designer Gaze Burvill created the Meander 3, an extraordinary three-seater love seat crafted in prime-grade oak. It was shortlisted for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Product of the Year Award. For Siddeley, it represents the perfect antidote to our hectic digital age, designed for non-confrontational but close conversations and convivial debate.

As we ease back into old patterns now restrictions have been lifted, our relationship with the outdoors has permanently altered. Those of us lucky enough to have a garden will never again take it for granted. In eager anticipation of spring and summer ahead, we’re busy repurposing our gardens with patio heaters, wood burners and fairy light.

Always with an eye on practicality, Siddeley has sought out the best possible solutions for seamless outdoor dining whatever the weather and is championing the Cashmere Caveman range of Wildkitchens, brainchild of none other than the film director Guy Ritchie, who shot to fame after his first movie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. “Just as Blue Forest came along and gave us the Rolls-Royce of tree houses, Cashmere Caveman has come up with a game-changing concept that will revolutionise al fresco dining, even in winter,” says Siddeley. 

The practical attractions of the Cashmere Caveman Wildkitchen are manifold. It comes in three sizes to seat 12, six or four.  The oven and lights operate from a car battery so it can be erected anywhere.  The structure is reassuringly manual and more akin to a sailing boat than a complicated mod-con, with sturdy ropes to lower or raise the canvas sheets by hand. The central firebox doubles as a cooker and has a flue and a glass top, so you are not smoked out and can keep an eye on your food. “My favourite aspect of it is that the firebox is in the centre of the zinc-topped table, so cooking becomes communal, a bit like a very grand fondue,” enthuses Siddeley. “Every detail has been thought through, with cooking utensils, glasses and even holders with paper towels hanging within easy reach from a ‘Wildhalo’ above the firebox. There’s even a ‘skilt’ under the table that keeps thighs and knees warm.” 

Chesney’s new outdoor HEAT collection is helping make all-season outdoor living possible with its new ‘Clean Burn’ low emission stoves. If you only have a balcony or tiny patio, an iron or streel fire bowl will transform them into welcoming entertaining spaces, while a string of lights automatically creates a party atmosphere. A good supply of candles is de rigeur and Siddeley likes the tall, burnished copper candle lanterns from Soho Home or the decorative Moroccan styles that Sarah Raven offers to go with her pillar candles in pretty colours.

A garden is both an intensely personal project and very public. Creating a space that is both beautiful and usable is the most satisfying challenge we face. 

Randle Siddeley

Siddeley’s firm belief is that any space, however tiny or dauntingly huge, can be transformed, and he constantly evolves his designs as he adapts to his clients’ changing needs. “A garden is both an intensely personal project and very public,” he says. “Creating a space that is both beautiful and usable is the most satisfying challenge we face.”

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