Above:  Amanda’s muti-award winning Rectory Garden.


Denmans Garden, where John Brookes MBE lived from 1980 until he passed in 2018, was also the location of his Clock House School of Garden Design. An integral part of preserving and maintaining the legacy of Denmans has been in restoring it once again as a site of teaching and learning.  As such, we have been lucky enough to partner with the London College of Garden Design, which has offered several excellent short design courses here. 

On October 16th, in collaboration with LCDG, award-winning garden designer and teacher Amanda Patton will offer her third ‘planting through the seasons’ class, this time focused on autumn and using Denmans Garden as a classroom. Here we speak to Amanda, Chelsea & Hampton Court RHS silver-gilt medal winner, and Society of Garden Designers multi-award winner, about her work and what people can expect from the course.

Amanda’s garden near the Parham Estate in West Sussex.

My office is within the beautiful woodlands of the Parham estate, while home is a mile away in Cootham.  I live in an ancient cottage with a kitchen extension which is glass on two sides, and my garden wraps around the kitchen giving me a space that flows from inside to out.  It’s small, and the first thing I see when I come downstairs in the morning, so needs to look good all year round; and not just look good but also inspire me for the day!  To achieve this in a small space, I have juxtaposed permanent structural elements, such as box cubes, offset against which, is herbaceous planting that includes seedheads and grasses for the winter.

A modern, natural garden.

I discovered gardens in my mid-twenties when an artist friend showed me her new garden – I was blown away by the colour, light and texture she had created and immediately started to learn how to do it myself.  Some years later, I moved to a new house, and into a garden with a blank canvas and a lovely view which I set about transforming.  At the same time, I was looking for more creativity in my work than I could find within illustration, and on designing my first garden from scratch I realised this is what I wanted to do.

A conceptual garden for Hampton Court, view one.

I’m good at maths and art and have always been fascinated by landscape, so it has proved to be a good fit for me, but I’m glad that I had the experience of art college and then years of illustration to bring to my designs, rather than having gone down the landscape architect route which would have been the case if I were born into a later generation.  Fine art has rules to help you understand what you want to create and how to achieve this, and I use these within garden design.  Once you know them, you can critique a garden to see how it was put together, so you can take these ideas for your own garden.  Much of it is about how a space makes you feel and as a designer I can control that completely.  It’s fascinating!

My philosophy for design is that all seasons should be treated equally so that there is always something you are enjoying and something you are looking forward to. Autumn offers beautiful light that can be harnessed to maximise the emotion from the colours and textures, and rather than seeing it as the end of the gardening season, we should see it as the opportunity to have another period of beauty within the garden.

A conceptual garden for Hampton Court, view two.

The structure at Denmans really comes into its own in the autumn, the interplay of colours combined with the forms of trees and shrubs create a wonderful sense of mystery that is heightened by the autumn light.

The most important element in designing a garden is to achieve a sense of place. While sometimes difficult to specify exactly what this is, it brings together the functional use, or purpose, of the space, along with the physical attributes of building and related topography and plant material beyond the site, and fuses these together through imbuing meaning.  In practice, this means looking for the essence of a site and bringing out these intrinsic qualities within the garden, while always working functionally.

On the course at Denmans, the morning will be spent on theory, a brief introduction to some key design principles, a look at available plant material for the season, and a walk around Denmans Garden itself.

The afternoon will be devoted to a practical how-to session allowing you to work on a border or area of your choosing. You should come with an idea of where you might create an autumn border in your own garden or where you might want to enhance your garden with autumn interest.

A conceptual image of ‘Simon’s Garden’ for the Chelsea Flower Show.

Chelsea is the highlight of any career and I’m still very proud of my first Chelsea medal (silver-gilt) in 2002!  In the last two years I have been trying to find funding for a major Show Garden at Chelsea highlighting the Infected Blood Inquiry; more UK haemophiliacs have died from infected blood, one of whom was my brother Simon, than were killed at 9/11, and yet so few people know about it.

Photography is a major hobby (along with landscape painting) where I like to explore mood from lighting and drama within the landscape; I enjoy immersing myself in these spaces and recreating the moods explored within my gardens.



Amanda’s course on Planting through the Season runs on Monday 16th October 2023 10:00 – 16:00- £135

Included: refreshments and a light lunch

This one-day course will introduce the principles of successful planting with an emphasis on the garden in autumn.

The afternoon will be devoted to a practical how-to session allowing you to design a border or area of your choosing, which will encompass understanding soil and site conditions, surveying what you have, and setting out a drawing on paper to calculate plant quantities required.

You should come with an idea of where you might create a spring border in your own garden or where you might want to enhance your garden with autumn interest.


For more detailed information and to book through the London College of Garden Design:



For more information about Amanda Patton go to https://www.amandapatton.co.uk/

For updates you can follow Amanda on Instagram @amandapattongardens, on twitter

@APattonGardens and Facebook AmandaPattonLandscapeandGardenDesign


For more information, please contact Louise Campbell

louise@denmans.org 07540892364