Hilary Thomas Garden Design

  • 4 June 2021 4:55 pm
  • Suffolk


After working in scientific research for a few years I decided to pursue my life long passion for plants and make a career change. I studied horticulture at Capel Manor College followed by a course in garden design with John Brookes. I worked in North London for several years designing and maintaining gardens before becoming a full time lecturer at Capel Manor College and later the Head of the School of Garden Design. During my years at Capel Manor I wrote and also taught on a range of courses on garden and planting design. Our students won national competitions and medals at the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower shows and many now run successful garden design practices. I gave up teaching in 2007 and am now living in Suffolk and working as a garden designer, lecturer and writer.


Hilary Thomas: Garden Designer

The garden should be considered as an outside room to be enjoyed and used as an extension to the house. A well designed and creatively planted garden will not only give pleasure but will enhance the value of the house.
I like to design gardens with a strong simple layout using good quality hard landscape materials and interesting planting. The plants are carefully chosen to suit the soil and aspect so that they will establish quickly. The role of the planting is to soften the hard landscaping, create height and structure, and bring colour and excitement to the garden.
If you do not want a complete design I can advise on improvements to areas of the garden or create new planting schemes.
For more information, please click here


Hilary Thomas: Lecturer

Having taught horticulture, planting and garden design at Capel Manor I am able to lecture on a wide range of related topics. I have an excellent collection of slides to illustrate my talks and am willing to travel a reasonable distance to give daytime or evening lectures. Below is a list of the titles of some of my talks but I am open to other suggestions:

  • Designing a garden for low maintenance and all year interest
  • Planting Design: form, foliage and colour in the garden
  • Vertical gardening: using wall shrubs and climbing plants
  • Right Plant: Right Place: how soil, aspect and climate affect plant selection
  • Herbaceous plants and grasses for seasonal excitement and colour
  • A bulb for every season
  • Trees and shrubs for changing seasons
  • Unromantic gardening – soil, composts, fertilisers
  • Plant naming – why do plants have such difficult names?
  • Lawn maintenance: seasonal jobs throughout the year

Hilary Thomas: Writer

The Complete Planting Design Course was published in May 2008 and was based on the course notes for the Plants and Planting Design Course at Capel Manor College. The book has been well received. When reviewed in Gardens Illustrated in July 2008 the reviewer wrote ‘As a textbook this publication is destined for success and is sure to appear on the book list for every planting design course in the UK and beyond’. I now write a regular gardening article for two North London magazines, Hadley and Living North and ‘Garden Notes’ for our local village newsletter. I have also contributed articles to the Garden Design Journal.

The Complete Planting Design Course by Hilary Thomas

The book is a comprehensive design course that will help the user see plants in a new light, fo their inner qualities while creating three-dimensional planting schemes for every colour, season, purpose and garden. It is essential reading for every would-be garden designer or for anyone who wants to make a difference to their outside space.
Key subjects covered by the book include:
  • Understanding plants in design
  • How to get the most from your site
  • Planting ideas for every style
  • Finding a theme for your location
By uniting these key skills and increasing your understanding of planting within design, you can transform your approach to gardening and see your plot through a garden designer’s eye.

The book is published by Mitchell Beazley
ISBN: 978-1-84533-412-3 and is available online or in your local bookstore.

Please contact Hilary Thomas at:

Surridges Farmhouse
Hanchett End
Tel: 01440 710919