The Garden Guide

Alice Bowe - English Landscape Garden Design

Alice Bowe is an award winning English landscape and garden designer with particular expertise in sustainable landscape architecture and green garden design.

Alice’s design office is based in Birmingham and we typically serve clients in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

We are happy to work further afield, nationally or internationally, by arrangement.

Alice writes regularly for The Times and The Garden Design Journal as well as running a successful Garden Design Studio ( and the garden accessory shop Garden Boutique (

Her contemporary garden designs, painterly planting schemes and garden design accessories have been featured in numerous publication including: Gardens Illustrated, New York Spaces, The English Garden, Homes and Gardens, Eve Magazine and House Beautiful.

Some of her recent projects are profiled below.


This contemporary garden design in Nottinghamshire was built to complement the bold architecture of a modern double-storey glass extension.

Alice Bowe, Water

The new garden was designed to balance the large open plan spaces and changes of levels inside the property whilst providing both a dramatic view to look upon and a tranquil space to inhabit. A major challenge of this contemporary garden design project was to create a space intimate enough to be a private family garden yet capable of hosting large parties.

Contemporary Garden Design, Alice Bowe

The main planting follows the same bold sweep of the landscape design with a matrix of grasses punctuated by a succession of bulbs. In late winter, the garden is dominated by a swathe of over 8,000 snowdrops, which are followed by purple crocus and pale dwarf narcissus. As these begin to fade, the translucent Molinia grows steadily up throughout the summer, colouring butternut in late summer. This changes the whole dynamic of this Nottingham garden by enclosing spaces that were previously open.

Alice Bowe, Nottingham Design

This simple, dramatic planting is obliquely balanced by generous mixed herbaceous borders in rainbow colours. This tranquil garden cleverly blends clean modern lines with traditional country garden themes and is lit at night to create spectacular views from inside the house.


Modern Garden by Alice Bowe

Although this mature shady Leicestershire garden felt very secluded and private, over half of the available garden space was not used as it was deemed ‘difficult’ and the planting was dated and showed no seasonal change.

Garden in Leicestershire, Alice Bowe

One of the difficult areas was transformed into a sunny courtyard garden bursting at the seams with old-fashioned roses, lavender and other cottage garden favourites.

Courtyard, Alice Bowe

To add to the confusion (and because of the way the village had been annexed by the city) the original front of the house was in the back garden and the back of the house was now the front!

Roses, Alice Bowe England Landscape Design

Blue bricks reclaimed from the original garden were incorporated into the new hard landscaping - stone paths edged the large lawn setting off the mature mulberry tree just off centre. The borders were widened and replanted in cream and green with hydrangea ‘Annabel’, scented dwarf lilac and other woodland plants. This gentle planting transforms in the autumn into rich autumnal reds.

Yew Hedges, Alice Bowe English Landscape Design
To create an instant effect of maturity, fully grown yew hedges were installed throughout the project – an expensive but immediate solution! This Modern English garden design was constructed in Leicestershire in Spring 2007 and planted in summer 2007. These photos were taken only 2 months after planting and yet already show some degree of maturity returning.


This cottage garden design of garden rooms – comprises a prairie garden, traditional herbaceous borders and drought tolerant gravel garden. A gently mounding prairie planting was designed as a colourful yet informal compliment to the sweeping gravel drive which approaches this Oxfordshire Manor.

Garden by Alice Bowe

This garden design takes the colour wheel as its theme, rotating through the colours with the seasons. In early summer, the inky stems of Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ lead the eye towards the large globes of alliums that punctuate a sea of Stipa tenuifolia.

Persicaria, Alice Bowe English Landscape Garden Design

By late summer, the rich autumnal reds of the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ pick up on the deeper tints of the distant Hydrangea and soft spires of Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’. This saturated colour scheme is further tempered by the gentle drifts of pink-spired Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Rosea’

The autumnal brightness of this Oxfordshire Prairie garden then mellows to reveal the beiges and browns of dead structure ready to be christened with frost.

Scented Herb Garden, Alice Bowe

In another part of the garden - glimpsed through an eighteenth century archway - the previously abandoned walled garden was transformed into a scented herb garden: shimmering with light inflorescences and textural accents of colour.

Alice Bowe English Landscape Garden Design

The simple quadripartite design recalls moorish gardens and the gravel mulch keeps maintence to a minimum. Long flowering thymes, perovskia and salvias provide evocative scent and warm colour, while mounds of low growing erigeron daisy’s cascade onto intercepting herringbone-patterned paths.

Cercis canadensis and white Verbascum

Traditional wide herbaceous borders and walls of reclaimed brick flank a croquet lawn in another garden room. The large heart shaped purple leaves of Cercis canadensis lifted by white verbascum, and hebe are intensified by the velvety rich red rose bushes.

Garden in Oxford designed by Alice Bowe

This traditional country garden design used natural reclaimed garden materials to give it an immediate sense of history and maturity. Combined with it’s classic design, it looks like it has always been there.


A Traditional English country garden design in Nottingham complements this large Edwardian townhouse with its terraced ‘garden rooms’ and sustainable and eco-friendly design.

Country Garden Design, Alice Bowe

Pleached hedges and dry stone walls were used to create rooms within the garden, whilst at the same time opening up views and sightlines to make the space feel larger than it really is.


With the simple, structural skeleton of the garden design in place, the sumptuous tapestries of planting could be added. The client is keen on flower arranging and so that planting has been designed with plants that not only look excellent in the border but also have a long life as cut flowers. Wide borders of painterly planting are framed by the hedges and walls of the garden design – each ‘room’ a subtle variation on the colour scheme of the previous - so a whole palette of plants for cutting are available.


Keen to maintain an organic management scheme in the garden, a hidden composting area is also included – and beneficial birds, butterflies and insects are encouraged with carefully sited bird boxes, feeders and habitats. Tempting natural predators such as ladybirds and lacewings to make a home in your garden improves biodiversity and can cut down on the work required to maintain a garden.

Alice Bowe Design

The highest point of the garden is home to the woodland garden which really comes into it’s own in the winter months. From the bench in this informal winter garden, you have a perfect view across the entire scheme. A scented winter walk leads around the garden so that even on a cold day, there is something to tempt you out into the garden.

The planting palette for this garden includes scented witch hazels, magnolias and the semi-evergreen viburnum x burkwoodii alongside multi-stem amelanchiers. Groundcover perennials include ajuga ‘Catlins Giant’, Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’, Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Cristatum’ and Dryopteris erythrosora.