Despite the pandemic, Randle Siddeley enjoyed a triumphant year, completing vast projects here and abroad and winning the Independent Publishers’ Gold Medal for his book, The Garden: Before and After (Papadakis, £37). ‘Lockdown has made people more appreciative of outdoor space than ever before’, says Randle. ‘It’s an extraordinary time to be in outdoor design.’
Randle established his business over 40 years ago and now works with a team of 80 but he still relishes converting nondescript, small spaces, even lightwells, into imaginative, flowering havens. No challenge is too daunting, as dismal muddy fields and shabby urban courtyards are reincarnated as magical green oases, lending the houses they adjoin newfound stature and beauty.
In Hong Kong, Randle completed a project, the first of its kind in the world, creating six complementary but different six to 8,000 square metre gardens for a luxury development of new mansions, one neo-classical and the rest contemporary. Randle personally hand-picked and transported 900 mature trees from the Chinese mainland to transform a vast area of dirt into desirable real estate with expansive views over Discovery Bay.
Randle’s creativity is underpinned by simple but meticulous rules and practical common sense
At home, near Salisbury, Randle completed a 12-acre garden around a Georgian house that has been completely restored over the last five years. He spent most of lockdown next to Kenwood House in Hampstead, designing the 7.5-acre garden for Athlone House, which involved restoring a sunken garden by Gertrude Jekyll.
He also worked with Finchatton to complete the gardens for the Four Seasons’ new serviced apartments in Grosvenor Square. Here he created visual theatre, using sculptural artificial Californian silver birches, Bonsai trees and a huge living wall inset with slips of bronze mirror for maximum drama. Randle’s creativity is underpinned by simple but meticulous rules and practical common sense. ‘You can spend a fortune on a garden but you must know how the plants will survive,’ he says, ‘and you do that by employing the best and if overseas, working with the local landscape architect who understands the constraints.’ It’s his vision combined with this pragmatic approach that has placed Randle firmly at the epicentre of the outdoor design world.