This talk is the first in a new series in which garden designer Non Morris picks a garden for a conversation about the challenges, hard learning and guiding dreams that go into making a magical garden.
In this talk Kate Coulson will take us first to her family garden in Cumbria and then on to her French garden in the Luberon hills. A passionate and intuitive gardener, Kate will talk with writer and garden designer Non Morris about her approach to garden-making, about the gardens that have influenced her, the daunting blank sheet of paper and the hard work and endless problem-solving that have resulted in two such distinguished and uplifting gardens.
When Kate Coulson arrived at the gates of her French garden in May 2021, set above a village perché high up in the Luberon hills, she was overwhelmed by what she saw. It is always a dazzling time of year in the garden she has been making here for the last ten years. But last May, after a prolonged absence because of the pandemic, the exuberance of the planting was particularly intense. In the family’s absence, stands of majestic giant fennel had erupted everywhere and the always sensational Euphorbia characias was now somehow even bigger and an even brighter green as it mounded out over the stone edging of the paths. ‘It was magical, I was completely astounded. There was a new wildness to the garden that I had always dreamt of’’.
It was whilst nurturing the garden at the family’s Cumbrian home a decade earlier that Kate had fallen in love with gardening. She studied plantsmanship and garden design at the English Gardening School and as she set about making her new garden her own, developed a serious passion for topiary, for clothing walls with plants and for working with colour.
Tackling the garden in France brought a whole new set of challenges and opportunities. Most of all it required incredible faith that planting hundreds of tiny long-rooted plants from Olivier Filippi’s renowned nursery near Montpelier really would result in an enchanting garden.
Kate’s interest in gardening began twenty years ago when she moved to a house on a Cumbrian fellside. Having spent her early career at Christie’s she went on to study Plants and Plantsmanship and Garden Design at the English Gardening School and along the way developed a modern topiary garden. Ten years later she took on a different sort of challenge – creating a drought-resilient garden from scratch at the top of a limestone outcrop in Provence.
Eighteen months ago, at the start of the first lockdown, Kate started to share images of her gardens on Instagram. Overnight, after a quietly independent gardening life, she found herself part of a lively community of fellow gardeners and designers with whom she enjoys exchanging ideas and information.
Kate’s gardens have featured in House & Garden, Country Life and English Gardens by Kathryn Bradley-Hole.
Non Morris is a writer and garden designer. She contributes regularly to Country Life, House & Garden, The Telegraph and Gardens Illustrated and has a monthly column for The English Garden Magazine. She was commissioned by the Garden Museum in 2019 to write and edit a memoir of the late 6th Marchioness of Salisbury. She is currently working on her first book, The Grass is Singing.
Non’s garden design practice has gained a reputation for delivering thoughtful and uplifting gardens with a particular emphasis on creating atmosphere through imaginative planting. Her portfolio includes private and public projects including gardens for the South London Gallery designed by 6a architects, for the church of St Mary the Boltons, in South Kensington, and around Studio for a Composer designed by Mary Duggan Architects.