You Can Just Call Me Charlie Dimmock

Always Make Room For A Water Feature!

It may seem like something that should have been left in the 90s, but there’s still plenty of room for a water feature in the modern garden.


A lover of the home transformation shows of the 90s; busy mother of two, Janet Armstrong, never had enough time to sort out her garden.


Her detached home in the outskirts of Leeds was perfect for her husband and three boys, but the huge back yard was simply too much for her to handle. Her boys, born a year apart from each other, had barrelled through the house for 12 years and torn up the forlorn back garden, that had been left to overgrow.

It’s often the biggest gardens that are the hardest to plan for. If you’re fortunate enough to have a wildly active young family, like Janet, you might have faced a similar problem yourself. Unless you can actively involve your kids in the gardening process, it can be impossible to get anything done whilst also keep a watchful eye on them.  Struggling for years, she just about kept her 3-bed house in one piece, whilst her husband was away on business for long stretches of time.



In the 12 years she spent raising her boys, she’d had little time to do anything to her garden, which now resembled a rather battered recreational field.

Now her kids had grown up and the muddy yard was no longer big enough for their football games – Janet finally had her opportunity to reclaim her garden. She felt that it was the right time to orchestrate a major redesign of the back garden. Her plan was to create a peaceful sanctum that she could enjoy for the summer ahead where she would, no doubt, have even more time on her hands.

When I met Janet, for her initial consultation, I could tell that she was a woman who had a clear vision in her mind.

Throughout the last 12 years, she had been mentally planning her dream garden: free of dirty boys, abundant with wildlife and, at it’s centre, a serene water feature – reflecting the inner peace that would be emanating from within her.

asian-garden-designAfter the first meeting, Janet gave me so many ideas that I had no problem coming up with an initial design for her.

Taking the grand dimensions of her garden, a healthy 20ft by 40ft, I mocked up a design that incorporated her initial thoughts, with a few added accoutrements. An easily manageable stretch of lawn would lead to a pathway, which would stretch over a 3 ft by 20 ft pond – this would offer Janet the tranquillity that she had been yearning for, for over a decade.

Janet was thrilled with design. As money was no object, she was keen to ensure that the pond would not be a natural one. Although it would, arguably, not be healthy for any wildlife straying in – she requested that the pond be extended and transformed into a modestly sized swimming pool. It looks like my water feature might have just got a little bigger than initially anticipated!

I’ve not worked with swimming pools before but, after consulting a UK based company that specialises in swimming pool skimmers and covers; I think I’ve got to grips with how this is going to work.

I always enjoy being thrust outside of my comfort zone.

What started out as a design built around the ideas of natural curves and plenty of wild flowers, has now transformed into a post-modern Buddhist-style retreat. Complete with pebble garden, bonsai trees and a completely still, heated pool that Janet will be able to dip her toes in.

Within just a few months, hopefully I’ll be able to deliver her the Eastern Modernist Peace Garden of her dreams!

Country Break To Bowland Fell Park

Stunning Natural Beauty with a side of Ordered English Country Charm

Lovely gardens combined with a touch of retail therapy, all book-ended by a lovely place to sleep.

Leeds has been my home for a large portion of my life. It’s a city that is full of life, noise and chaos – so sometimes it can get exhausting.

I’ve had the good fortune of being able to travel a lot in my previous occupation – so now I’m satisfied with taking small breaks within the UK. Although it’s just a short drive away, I’d never thought of visiting the Fells. After being told of their surprising beauty, as well as the wealth of Gardens in the area, I booked myself a little caravan to sleep in and set off.

Bowland Fell Park

Situated right on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, this park, comprising of several stationary caravans (in addition to a thoroughly charming 17th Century Pub) offers gorgeous views of the deep green forest – as well as access to some paths and circular routes that are great for dog walking. The caravan I booked was a lovely size, cosy enough for myself and my partner, with plenty of space to prepare some dinner in the evenings.


For those not wanting to brave the Winter weather in a tent, a stationary caravan is a great go-between – providing the feeling of being right next to the outdoors, whilst leaving you with a comfortable night’s sleep.

Stydd Gardens

If you’ve been to as many Gardens and Stately Homes as I have, they can start to blur into one. Without trying to besmirch the good name of England’s tourist attractions – over the years they have started to become homogenised. The same cafes, kindly attendants and gift shops – they’ve almost become a cliche unto themselves. Thankfully, there are still fiercely independent places like Stydd Gardens, attempting to break the mould.


Small but interesting gardens are laid out in a quirky fashion, whilst the usual cafe is avoided completely in favour of 3 separate eating establishments. It’s a smart move for a countryside garden, providing three very different eateries for locals and visitors alike.

Plant World and Gardens at Myerscough Gardens

The last place I have to recommend from our trip to the Fells was the wonderful, but daftly names, Plant World. An offshoot of Myerscough College, on whose campus it’s located, Plant World is a rather grand name for a sizeable green house packed full of lovely English flowers and vines. It’s essentially a small garden centre, but thanks to the wonderfully eager students employed there, it turned into a thoroughly enjoyable educational experience, as well as a shopping trip. In addition to the shop, there’s a ‘Tropical Zone’ – a warmer greenhouse where you can admire the exotic specimens that the students have been growing, as well as the ‘Temperate Zone’ – an even warmer area, where the tropical breeds are nurtured from seeds.


Outside, there’s also a lovely little landscaped garden, complete with a pond, bog garden (which is actually prettier than it sounds) as well as an ornamental kitchen garden – a lovely surprise.