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Japanese Garden, Designed by Bellflower Nursery, Created by Suffolk Garden Works

Updated: Feb 1, 2019

This is the story of how 'Suffolk Garden Works' created a garden with a Japanese theme, with a stunning result.

Garden Design in Suffolk

Our clients - former military pilot turned acupuncturist , with a keen eye for detail and his wife, a therapist with a passion and flare for creativity had contacted garden design husband and wife team Sue and Simon Wooster, representing Bell Flower Nursery.

Their vision was to create a Japanese theme garden for their new build home, situated in a small village, close to the Suffolk town of Bury St Edmunds.

Of course, being a new build, the garden was a blank canvas – the main feature being a swale running through the centre – ‘an artificial water run off zone, with strict parameters regarding its presence’ – Something we would all have to include in the design and creation of the garden.

The garden designers had a meeting with the couple, the outcome being this preliminary drawing

Drawing to come

Once the design had been agreed in principle I went on my first site visit. As the recommended landscape contractor by the garden designers Bell flower nursery we worked closely together to agree the best ways to create a stunning finish. Ideas were constantly being raised and the Japanese theme was at the centre of all of them

The concept was still in very early stages at this point, ideas were being created all the time, with the

Japanese theme firmly at the forefront of our thoughts.

Garden designer and landscaping meeting in Suffolk

The key points taken from my first meeting with the clients and Bell Flower Nursery:

  • The swale – this had to be built into the design and the swale still had to function. A dry river bed had been proposed to transform the swale.

  • The Platform – Our clients wanted a raised seating area for entertaining and asked for this to be created using composite decking materials.

  • A Reiki Gravel Bed – Reiki - a Japanese art form, presented here in the form of decorative and fine gravel, allowing designs and patterns to be drawn though using a reiki rake. A water feature would also be present – our clients' therapeutic backgrounds having an influence here!

  • Japanese planting theme - designed by Bellflower nursery

  • Membrane and bark - providing a smart finish and lower maintenance to the planted areas.

  • Stepping stone path

  • New lawn

Over the next couple of weeks, the landscape contractor, the garden designers and the clients all collaborated as to how we would achieve each of the above points.

From Garden design to the end result - how we did it - The Landscaping process by Suffolk Garden Works

The swale – A 12m long shallow ditch in the garden

Suffolk Garden Works created the dry river bed using 7 tonnes of Caledonian Cobbles in a variety of sizes– Supplied by Bannolds –

Caledonian cobbles have been smoothed over millions of years. Coming from Scotland and originating from the sea, the dry/wet look of the cobbles is exactly what we were looking for.

The seven tonnes were ordered in a variety of sizes – aimed to create the most realistic and quite dramatic dry river bed.

8-14mm – 1 ton 40-80mm – 1 ton

14 -20mm – 3 tonnes 40-80mm – 1 ton

20-40mm – 1 ton 80-150mm – ton

The 8-14mm and 14-20mm were used as a foundation – to cover the entire area of the terram. The river bed was then designed and built from there.

The river bed was edged on the grass side using an Everedge product called Pro-edge – a metal edging that is very malleable – ideal in this instance for creating the flow of the curves required for the design of the river bed. This was installed at grass height to allow for easy mowing -

The far bank of the river bed would blend in to a planted area – therefore edging strip was not used, to achieve a natural finish.

Twelve Glacial Boulders were bought in to help define the meanders and key points of the river bed.

Landscape contruction of Dry River Bed

Landscape Contruction of the Dry River Bed

The platform 4.5m x 4.5m –

A composite raised deck by Suffolk Garden Works

Built entirely from composite decking materials – an environmentally friendly material that is formed using recycled wood and plastic. Despite being more expensive than traditional decking materials, it has a far greater life expectancy and thus is a great long-term investment. It has the advantage of being lower maintenance than normal decking and the colour remains constant throughout its life - Perfect in this instance for our clients who had just purchased their retirement home.

The materials were supplied by a company called Envirobuild - The pioneer version of the Hyperion range was used this time. The deck was built to meet the requirements of the manufactures 25 year warranty.

Notice how the deck was designed to allow the dry river bed to appear to continue flowing on underneath the deck.

Composite Deck by Suffolk Garden Works

The reiki bed and water feature

Created using Derbyshire grey grit 3-5mm at 100mm depth

Edged with 100x200 tumbled grey granite sets

The feature rocks were hand picked by our clients from Bannolds.

A hole was drilled through one of the rocks to allow water pipe to pass through, it could then be transformed into a water feature. (You can just make out the wet patch on the rock furthest away)

The rock sits on top of a water resovoir, which was sunk into the ground. An ultra fine mesh has been placed on top of the reservoir to prevent the grit falling through. A water pump situated in the reservoir pumps the water over the surface of the rock to create a glistening, moving, soothing effect as it runs down the sides and back into the reservoir.

The Planting Design

Completed by Bell flower nursery.

Finishing Touches

The beds were topped using an ornamental woodchip, keeping to the Japanese theme. Supplied by Bannolds -

The stepping stones are a natural sandstone in fossil buff - supplied by Simply Paving

The turf for the new lawn was supplied by our regular supplier of very high quality turf - Toleshunt Turf Farms

Here are a few more photos of the finished article

After completion, our client left us the following 5 star Google review;

We had Tom and his team take on the whole garden project for us when we moved into our new house. Working with a designer to our brief for a Japanese themed garden, Tom delivered the garden in a very efficient and effective manner. We were extremely pleased with the quality of his work and have recommended him for other projects.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.

Tom Taylor

Suffolk Garden Works

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