Need Help?

Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

Entries in Andrew Fisher Tomlin (3)


Web Photos That I Like

When is a garden a magical mystery tour?

When it is part of the plant portfolio of Andrew Fisher Tomlin, a landscape architecture firm specializing in modern English gardens.


Admiring the Garden From Inside the Home

Garden design by Andrew Fisher Tomlin. Click on the image to see more of this garden.

A garden can become the extension of the interior of a home. Some windows may create a seamless view that begins inside and extends outdoors.

A client touring Cape Cod, Massachusetts purchased a 10 feet tall wind sculpture consisting of a latticed tower topped with a stylized sundial, which spun when the wind blew. On her return home, she instructed the handy man to install it outside the kitchen window so that she could see it while drinking her morning coffee.

In a similar vein, my daughter looked out the window of her daughters’ bedroom and decided that the barren plot of land under the trees outside, that were visible from indoors, appeared boring. “Children should see plants when they look outside” she thought. So began her project of planting a shade garden that the children could focus on when they got dressed in the morning.


Garden design by Andrew Fisher TomlinDuring very hot weather, when being outdoors is uncomfortable, I stand in front of my bedroom window and admire the portion of the flowerbed that I can see from there. While the flowerbed is actually 60 feet long, only 20 feet is visible from the window. That’s why I made sure that the visible stretch of garden is better planted than any other, because it is the first thing I see when I get up in the morning.

Photo by Carole Ottesen, The American Gardener, American Horticultural Society, November 2009.What do you see when you open the window shades in the morning, when you stare outside during a rainstorm, or stare at the yard from a kitchen window?

When planning a garden layout, it is worth taking the time to step indoors and study the garden from inside, looking out. It is from these interior garden perspectives that we sometimes get lost in thought as we admire the natural beauty around our homes. For passionate gardeners, these scenes will transport us to imaginary places when we are housebound in winter.


This garden view belongs to Chen at Garden Canadensis. Click on the image to visit this "must see" site.

Photo by Carole Ottessen, The American Gardener, American Horticultural Society, November 2009Consider planting gardens that are visible from many interior vantage points. Look through windows and patio doors to determine where the best indoor views of the garden will be. Pay attention to what a plant, tree, or shrub looks like through a window in summer, how it transforms itself in autumn and try to imagine its appearance from indoors in winter.

In the November 2009 edition of The American Gardener, garden writer, Carole Ottesen calls these garden spots “look into” gardens that are “beautiful little scenes to enjoy from indoors, especially during the long winter months.” Continuing, she writes that “being conscious of how your garden looks from the interior of the house brings a new perspective to its design and will help increase your enjoyment of it”.

To see more landscape designs by Andrew Fisher Tomlin, click here.


A Garden That Commits; a Show Garden from the Chelsea Flower Show

Image courtesy of A.P.L.D.Here is an example of a Garden That Commits. I first learned about this concept garden from Whitney Freeman-Kemp, of Connecticut, USA, in January 2010, when she blogged about it at the site of the Association of Professional Landscape Designer. According to Ms. Freeman-Kemp, gardens that commit are identified as having “..a strong and clean motif or colors that are emphasized or go for broke….These gardens you will love or you will hate. But the ones that you will love you will never forget.”

Gardens That Commit, are also known as show gardens, and they are intended to, literally, stop traffic. While several of these can be seen on Whitney’s blog, the garden I feature here is the one that riveted my attention. It is titled “The Daily Telegraph Garden” and was designed by Tom Stuart-Smith for the Chelsea Flower Show, in the UK, in 2006. There, it won a gold medal and a Best in Show Award. In this garden, modern geometry combines with a postmodern approach to material handling. Rusted copper colored steel sheeting serves as a background wall while weathered oak and stones cover the  floors. It is a minimalist contemporary garden, planted in the spirit of a prairie, meadow or steppe garden.

All of the images posted here are different perspectives of the same garden. They demonstrate a masterful and abundant use of, flowers, ornamental grasses, and material handling. To understand how the designer created this garden, it helps to know that it is composed of four layers: - The first consists of two staggered groups of Viburnum rhytidfophylium that frame the view into the garden and that provide height. The image at the top of this post demonstrates the use of Viburnum.

Image via second layer is made up of a hedge of Carpinus betulus [similar to Fagus sylvatica] planted on two sides of the garden and alternating with the rusted steel panels.




Image via hedges that under-plant the Viburnum make up the third layer.


Image via fourth layer consists of a flower composition using 44 perennials. The theme governing the choice of flowers is drought tolerant plants, in shades of rust, blue, purple, white, and grey.


Image via drought tolerance, the designer used  Iris Germanica, Knautia, Ornamental grasses, Salvia , Stachys, and Verbascum, and Ornamental Grasses. Scroll back to the top of this page to see how the designer incorporated the grasses into the master plan. the 44 perennials used, the rust color is supplied by Anemanthele lessoniana, deep red Astrantia, Euphorbia griffithi, Geum coppertone, and Geum georgenburg.  The dramatic use of soft blues and purples, balances out the earthy copper. This is achieved by using Geranium Phillipe Vapelle, and Nepeta Walker’s Low. trifoliate and Orlaya grandiflora supply a dash of white.

 color balances out the metal motif with the use of Stachys byzantina and Verbascum bombyciferum.





Landscape designer Andrew Fisher Tomlin of London, UK, commented on the concept of Gardens That Commit by reminding readers that a show garden’s strong theme is more suitable for public places than residential gardens. Designers intend such gardens to look superb for the brief period of a show. They do not plan them for private grounds, unless the park or estate can contain the garden’s energy, without overpowering the rest of the landscape. Adrian Bloom, in his newly published book, Blooms Best Perennials and Grasses, reminds us that, unlike show gardens with a short life, actual gardens, with year round interest and an intended longevity, require strategic planning from a more realistic point of view.

I chose to share Mr. Stuart-Smith’s Chelsea 2006 show garden with my readers merely for the visual entertainment it provides. Gardeners that have experimented with their own bold color combinations, understand the challenge of making these gardens aesthetically sustainable over time.


The following sites were helpful in illustrating this post.