Arne's journal

The Ever Evolving Garden

This year I feel very fortunate to have been asked to speak at several UK and USA based horticultural events and conferences. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my love of plants and my approach to garden design with new audiences and particularly like speaking to people after the talk about their own garden plans and love of gardens.

Recently, I spoke at the Perennial Plant Conference in Pennsylvania, USA, held in the wonderful surroundings of the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College. My lecture, entitled The Ever Evolving Garden, was based on my garden Allt y bela. I wanted to show the process of the garden's evolution from scrubland to cultivated garden and share some of my dreams for Allt y bela in the future.

The talk explored how different parts of the garden have evolved to offer seasonal interest and year-round joy. The woodland, the bejewelled meadows, the enclosed garden that is my 'curiosity cabinet of plants', as well as the kitchen garden and cottage garden borders, are all continually honed and adapted to accommodate new passions and discoveries of plants that are new to me.

I find that speaking to audiences about my ideas and approaches to design helps me to organise my thoughts and appreciate the progress that we have made over time. I was thrilled to be able to show some of the early shots of the garden at Allt y bela in this lecture and realise how far we have come since taking the house on over 10 year ago.

The slide show I used in the talk is given here as a short film. Unfortunately there is no commentary with the slides, but the plants I mentioned are named throughout.


The Perennial Plant Conference is an annual event for both professionals and keen amateurs that takes place at the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. It is organised by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Longwood Gardens, The Hardy Plant Society (Mid-Atlantic Group), Chanticleer and The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. 

COMING UP: Arne will be speaking at New York Botanical Garden in February 2018. Tickets are available now via NYBG website here.


Formality & Informality

Earlier this year I was asked by Peter Lyden, President of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) in the USA to give a lecture for its members in New York. Peter wanted me to talk about how I go about designing gardens - the elements I choose and the reasons for their use in particular designs.

My garden designs are contradictions and play with the balance between formality and informality. I deliberately juxtapose the clipped and the unclipped, the tame and the untame to create gardens that have year-round interest and which my clients feel comfortable in. It is the combination of these two principles that yields gardens full of romantic, atmospheric and informal planting, and which have a longevity that comes from the enduring strength of a formal structure.

The lecture, which was co-hosted by Architectural Digest magazine, took place in the ICAA Library in central New York City in mid September.

For more information about the ICAA, visit the website here.