WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Caitlin McLaughlin: My background is in plant genetic conservation, and having a love of plants and horticulture helped me develop from the science of plants to garden design. Design was always a hobby for me but when I was 26 I decided to be brave and have a career change, and turn my hobby into my livelihood.
Tessa McLaughlin: Having grown up surrounded by fields, gardens, and horticulture it became a fantastic opportunity to establish Thrift Landscapes with Caitlin. We are a complementary pairing, as I am able to liaise with suppliers and work on the accounts side of the business, and Caitlin can focus on the design and planting.
Tessa: I graduated in 2014 from the University of Liverpool with a BA(Hons) in Social and Economic History, followed by a PGCE at Sheffield Hallam University in 2016.
Caitlin: I studied both my undergraduate and Masters in Research at the University of Birmingham, graduating in 2012, and specialized in Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources, specifically plants related to our commonly grown food crops. When I changed careers to garden design, I taught myself along the way and have been continually learning ever since.
Visiting gardens is one of the main ways to spend a day out. In Northamptonshire, we love visiting Coton Manor and Castle Ashby Gardens. The latter is a Capability Brown garden, and we have found his work really inspiring along our design journey, especially having visited this garden regularly through the seasons from childhood. There are so many designers who have influenced us, including Nigel Dunnett, Dan Pearson, and Piet Oudolf.
As my background is the genetics of plants, rather than the overall design of a space, this definitely influences our work. I like to use plants that are related, or naturally found co-exiting together in the wild, as these relationships already occur: who am I to fight nature? “Right plant, right place” is definitely a philosophy we follow, and we also like to keep things quite simple with the layout and hard landscaping. Clean lines juxtaposed with a floaty natural-looking planting is something you will see in a lot of our work. We aim to select materials that fit within the space and complement the house, with planting that knits together the different sections of the garden and attracts wildlife.
CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
Grasses, specifically Deschampsia [hair grass] varieties, as they soften planting blocks and are so tactile. I also like to use plants that are good for pollinators and good for soil health, such as Trifolium rubens [feather clover], because then our gardens are not just for us, but also cater to wildlife and soil biodiversity.
We are working on a range of projects around the country, including an 18th century old rectory with multiple garden rooms and a contemporary new build project with our architect partners. Our projects vary in size and complexity, from modern to historic garden schemes, but for us we like to let the plants and materials do the talking regardless of the type of project.
City centers and public parks, as we love bringing gardens and green spaces to lots of people, whether they would like to have their lunch break out of the office or sit and read under a tree for the afternoon.
Caitlin: I hope garden design continues to move towards encompassing nature and biodiversity within designs, as gardens are the gateway to the greater landscape and used by so many more creatures than just ourselves.
Tessa: Emphasizing sustainability within our material choices is also something we will hopefully be continuing to do moving forward.
A bumblebee home for urban gardens that uses hexagon paving with copper-inlaid bumblebee shapes to help identify underground nests. Having used these in my RHS Hampton Court Show garden, I am currently developing these for the landscaping market. thriftlandscapes.co.uk
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