How We Created Our Jungle Garden Escape

Like many of you, the past year or so was certainly a time for focusing on garden design ideas. Why is it that so many of us spend countless hours pinning, planning and researching our interiors, and yet the outside space can so often be an afterthought? Read on to discover our top garden design tips, how to create a flexible outside space and why we love our new jungle garden so much! Here’s hoping for that Indian Summer!

Our secret jungle hideaway evokes memories of trips to Southeast Asia.
If last year taught us anything, it’s to embrace any outside space we’re lucky enough to have and make it the very best you can. Our homes and gardens are working extra hard for us now and the garden is the perfect way to extend your living space, for when the great British weather allows. There’s been a huge increase in demand for outside living and for creating gardens that can offer flexible, zoned spaces, be that for working from home in a garden studio, entertaining and dining space for friends and family, and the all-important retreat to help us switch off and unwind.

We started our garden design journey back in the summer of 2019 when we invested in a new garden studio - we desperately needed extra space for our growing business. There’s a lot of choice on the market when it comes to garden buildings, so do your research and think about budget. If you’re using it all year round, you’ll need to invest in a higher quality structure with proper insulation. We opted for the Malvern Heritage Hanley – we fell in love with the sleek industrial look and floor to ceiling Crittal style windows and doors.

Our garden studio with Crittal style doors and windows is a place we can work from home.

To make way for the studio building we had to clear a lot of the existing shrubs, a decking area and some fencing, so after it was built, the rest of the garden looked a bit sorry for itself...then came autumn and winter, and then came Covid! So, it wasn’t until about a year later in Autumn 2020 that we really got planning the garden itself.

We designed the remaining garden space with Sarah at The Garden Creative and with the team at Formosa Landscapes - for a reminder of the original plans have a read of our earlier blog post here! We love travelling and wanted to bring a slice of the tropical to our garden for an outside space we could use for relaxing together after a hard day’s work, and for partying with friends. We were inspired by trips to Southeast Asia and were lucky that we already had many well-established tropical shrubs and trees, so we filled in the gaps with plants like tree ferns, bamboo and palms, natural materials like oak decking, and a pond with a tranquil water feature – this also helps to drown out some of the London traffic noise at the front of the house which isn’t in line with the chilled Bali vibe we were going for!

As Neal from Formosa says: “I really enjoyed constructing the space around the existing planting, such as Eucalyptus, palms and bamboo, and you could see the project come to life every day. The continuity of the Balinese theme throughout really did transport you to Southeast Asia even whilst building it”.

The decking and stone pavers during renovation.

 Our Top Tips When Planning Your Perfect Outside Space

  • Think about zoning, just as you would inside. We treated our space as if it were an open plan living/dining room; by adding decking off our studio we created a versatile terrace in beautifully rustic oak sleepers which will age and weather over time.
  • Consider how you enter your space? We wanted to create a ‘secret garden’ feel, so from the path you’re led into an area with stone chippings and porcelain pavers which act like steppingstones. We have also allowed our more established shrubs and palms to overgrow, so you almost have to push them aside to step through into our main space.
  • Mark out your space using string or tape so you can really get a feel for the size and whether you have it right for your needs. We needed ample decking space so this could offer us flexibility for placing furniture…speaking of which, also do this when it comes to the pieces you’re buying to ensure they fit and work in the space!
  • Working with a designer or landscaper can save you £’s on plants – they should have accounts at the bigger nurseries so they can purchase your order at wholesale prices. You’ll also be able to buy much bigger specimens than you’ll find at your local garden centre, so you’ll get more impact for your budget.
  • Think about how you can use any surplus materials – we used some of the left-over oak sleepers from the decking to build the perfect bench seating in an underused corner, meaning we have additional seating for up to 8 people – perfect for sitting around the firepit! Neal also built us a fantastic herb planter which we’ve filled with mint, rosemary, lemon thyme and sage – it smells divine!
  • Get creative when planting, Sarah’s tip was to not plant everything straight – “planting trees or shrubs on a slight angle adds interest and a touch of the unexpected” – we did this on our beautiful tree ferns which we are in love with!
Our built-in corner seating using excess material from the deck, plus our herb garden being inspected by Ripley & Newt!

When it came to furnishing the finished space we searched for ages for the right pieces. Some of the garden furniture sets on the market can be huge, and whilst we have a decent sized space, we didn’t want the furniture to take over. We planned our L-shaped deck to be flexible and have areas for both lounging and eating, so when we discovered the Turin day beds from Cox and Cox (PR gift) we knew these would be perfect. The modular design means we can use these as loungers when it’s just Tom and myself, and they can be moved to comfortably seat eight when we entertain. Their outdoor herringbone rug helps to soften the rustic decking under barefoot as well as zone our ‘lounge’ area, and the beautiful fabric and fringe parasol and festoon lights give the whole space that jungle hideaway vibe we wanted.

For the dining table and chairs we had been coveting the Hay Pallisade range for some time. We love their refreshingly modern design and clean sleek lines, plus as they’re made from powder coated steel they can be left outside all the time. We opted for the black version as this tied in with our studio and the wooden screening we installed, and chose the smaller square table with two standard chairs and two dining chairs to add a little variety.

The Hay Pallisade table and chairs in black, and our Turin day beds from Cox & Cox.

We could not be happier with our jungle garden retreat, it’s the perfect place for working, relaxing and enjoying some food and drink with friends and family – exactly what we wanted!

We hope you have been inspired this summer to get out into the garden too! Make the most of whatever outside space you have, however big, and enjoy it!

Jamie & Tom x

The Jungle Escape Shopping List

Pavers - 'Gea' porcelain paving from London Stone 

Chippings - Blooma green slate decorative chippings from B&Q  

Oak deck boards - 200mm x 30mm Oak sleepers from The Luxury Wood Company 

Hay Pallisade Table and Chairs

Plants and shrubs sourced from Provender Nurseries (one of the most exciting places I’ve been!)

Tree ferns from The Palm Centre

Cox & Cox Gifted Products:

Turin Versatile Daybed

Festoon Lights

Indoor Outdoor Herringbone Reversible Rug

Compact Fringed Parasol - Blue Stripe

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