Helping create beautiful gardens
If you’ve recently taken on a new garden, but are yourself relatively new to gardening and would like some guidance on getting started, hints and tips, or are just looking for someone to bounce ideas off, then do get in touch! We love talking about gardens and would be delighted to help you create your beautiful outdoor space.
What we do
Based just south of Edinburgh, we provide coaching and advice on gardens and gardening in Scotland and the north of England. We’re not a garden services company, a landscape gardener or a garden designer, but we are here to help you make sense of your garden and provide guidance on maintaining it, whatever the time of year! So whether it's a one-off garden visit or a more detailed Maintenance Report you're after, we'll be delighted to help!
How we can help you
In a nutshell, our role is to help you get the most from your garden. We believe that gardening is the #1 hobby (we are a little biased!), keeping you fit and offering food for the soul (as well as the table!) Everyone can garden, regardless of experience and space, and our role is simply to help shape and complement the knowledge that you have, adding in (hopefully) useful suggestions and recommendations. We love seeing the satisfaction and sense of achievement gardening brings and it's a real privilege witnessing the pride that gardeners have showing their friends and family what they've achieved!
While our main services are set out below, we can be very flexible, so do get in touch if we don't appear to offer what you're after. We charge what we believe to be a very reasonable rate, by the hour, and we will provide a clear price before undertaking any work.
Get in touch with us today to arrange a free, no obligation visit, where we’ll be delighted to meet you to discuss your requirements.
Friendly Coaching and Support
We’re always happy to visit your garden and talk gardening! If you’re a new gardener, we’ll be pleased to help you get started. We can visit you just once or each season. We can help identify plants, look at the aspect and soil of your garden and help act as a sounding board for you, making suggestions along the way, whether that's encouraging more wildlife to your garden or giving your garden some drama! We’ll be pleased to talk ponds, pots, pests and problem areas! If your time is at a premium, we can help suggest what the priority tasks should be for your garden, in order to help optimise your time and keep your garden looking great!
And yes, we all have those moments of despair, when nothing appears to be going right! We're here to help coach you through those moments and set you back on the right tracks! Gardening should be fun, and we'll do our best to help make it so!
All our visits are followed up by a report of our meeting, highlighting what we’ve discussed and including some useful hints and tips.
Help with Brand New Gardens
Have you just bought a brand new house? Unfortunately, they don't tend to come with brand new gardens! You might get some slabs helping you navigate the sea of mud on either side, but that might be about it! And yet this sea of mud represents a blank canvas and a wonderful opportunity for you to create the garden of your dreams. But if you're new to gardening, a new patch like this can be a bit overwhelming, coming at a time when you might prefer to spend money inside the house rather than out.
We can help you get started. We can look at the aspect and topography of your garden, and we can investigate your soil to see if it needs improving. We can advise you what would grow best and we can suggest some plants to help get you started, geared to your budget.
While we're not a garden designer, we can cover the principles they use to ensure you maximise the 3D space you have.
If you're completely new to gardening, welcome! If useful, we'll be pleased to suggest what tools you might need, in addition to some money-saving tips and quick wins!
Bespoke Maintenance Guides
Designed for those who have recently purchased or inherited a property with a garden, and who would welcome some more structured guidance on how to maintain it, we will be pleased to create a bespoke maintenance manual for you. This will highlight the key features of your garden, identifying notable trees and shrubs, with recommendations for seasonal maintenance. For large gardens, we’ll segmentalize it into areas for you. Where possible, our manuals include some easy quick wins and time- and cost-saving tips!
Our maintenance guides are bespoke to you and your property, and we will be pleased to incorporate any specific requirements you might have, carefully pitching them at a level you’re comfortable with.
Garden Reports for Properties on the Market
If you’re thinking of purchasing a property, we’ll be pleased to produce a Garden Report for you, highlighting the key features (including notable trees and shrubs) and the degree of maintenance that might be required throughout each of the four seasons. We’ll give you an indication of how much time the garden might take to maintain and our recommendations for prioritisation. Despite the fact that it may be a major reason for why you were attracted to a property in the first place, a new or larger garden can be a scary proposition. Our report will give you what you need to know, in order to make an informed decision.
For those selling a property with an established garden, we can provide a Garden Report for you, highlighting the main areas and notable features of your garden, complementing the sales particulars for the house.
Follow-up online support
We recognise that sometimes it's just not possible to cover everything in one of our consultation visits or in a Report. And of course, the seasons change and new plants (and weeds!) emerge. For all our clients, then, we are pleased to offer free unlimited online support via email, for an initial period of three months. Clients can drop us a message at any time on any garden topic, and we’ll ping you a response back! Sometimes a topic might be too tricky to cover via correspondence in which case we’ll suggest a Zoom call or a garden visit (additional charge may apply).
Not sure if we're quite what you're looking for?
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
You might be considering putting in an offer for a new property, or might recently have purchased a new home, but have concerns about the garden, and what you might need to do to maintain it.
'Blank canvass' garden?
You've just bought a brand new house but the garden is, well, non-existant! And you might be a first-time gardener. So where to start?
Or more time now to think about the garden?
You might have lived in your property for a while, but not had time to give the garden any serious thought until now.
You want to make the best of what you have...
You don’t want to carry out a complete makeover, with all the cost and mess that this incurs – at least not at this stage!
Instead, you want to make the best of what you have, to understand what you have and know that you’re looking after it right.
And you want to do it yourself!
You may consider yourself to be a beginner or you might be quite knowledgeable. Most know more than they think and a lot of gardening is common sense. And there’s a lot of information online these days. But it can be useful having someone to call on, even if just to give a second opinion.
What you do need to have is some enthusiasm and a little time to commit to the garden on a regular basis. If you can do this, then you'll derive huge benefit from the satisfaction and excitement of doing it yourself.
Looking for a gardening friend
If this any of this chimes with you, then we think we can help!
We'll provide a friendly face who loves talking gardens!
Who can help identify and highlight, and help you enthuse about, what you already have in your garden.
Who can provide advice tailored to your garden and what you want to do with it, while taking into acccount how much, or little, you think you know about gardening.
Who’s not going to try to sell you a whole-season maintenance package, the greenest lawn in the county or push you into a garden makeover.
But who can advise you on what to do with your lawns, trees, hedges, shrubs and herbaceous.
Who is happy to talk about compost, seed-planting, ponds, greenhouses and potting things up.
Who will very probably suggest some money-saving tips, including advising on the gardening tools you’ll actually use!
Essentially, a Gardening Friend and coach to help you get accustomed to your new garden, highlight key features, and suggest maintenance regimes with plenty of support and encouragement along the way.
Our promise to you
While we do have 40+ years’ practical experience of designing, planting and maintaining gardens of different sizes, every day is a school day. If we can’t identify a plant or address a specific issue when we meet, we will research this for you after we meet, using reliable sources.
If at any point you feel you are not getting value for money from us, you can cancel the contract and we will refund you in full, without quibble.
In certain circumstances, we reserve the right not to take up the client’s brief. This may be because we don’t feel we can offer sufficient added value for the client to justify our fee, because the brief better belongs with a garden designer or landscaper, or because we are unable to take on any further clients at the time. In such circumstances, we will use best efforts to help you find a solution.
Meet the Gardener!
Founder and Principal Consultant
Hamish Macandrew took early retirement in October 2022 after a career in Higher Education, not-for-profit and charity roles, and formed The Scottish Country Gardener in January 2023, naming it after his garden blog www.thescottishcountrygarden, which he has maintained for the past 10 years or so.
Hamish has been a passionate amateur gardener for the last 40+ years and has maintained 5 gardens of different sizes from Mews patio to 2- acre Walled Garden, including substantially altering two of them and creating another from scratch.
A member of the Royal Horticultural Society, for the last 20 years Hamish has maintained his family’s 4.5 acre garden just south of Edinburgh which includes a 2 acre Georgian Walled Garden. Working to a limited budget and having had to balance his time between full time job and rearing a young family, the last 20 years have been a real learning curve in terms of highlighting what is, and isn't, achievable in the garden and much of this experience Hamish passes on today as a consultant and coach.
When not working in the garden, Hamish writes a regular blog about his experiences at www.thescottishcountrygarden.com and you can also follow the garden on Instagram at @thescottishcountrygarden.com. All the pictures in this website are taken in Hamish's garden.
Hopefully, these FAQs will answer most queries, but if they don't address yours, do please get in touch, and we'll be delighted to respond.
Is it worth investing in my garden ?
Putting aside the health and mental welfare benefits that gardening brings, as well as the satisfaction of running your own garden and looking at this in strictly commercial terms, the answer is Yes, it certainly is worth investing in your garden, and it will increase the value of your property. According to David Thorpe of whatinvestment.co.uk, “a nice, well-kept garden can add 20% to the value of your home." (‘How to use your garden to increase the value of your property’)
I see you're based in South East Scotland. My sister and I would value your assistance but I live in Perthshire and my sister's in Newcastle.
Do get in touch! I won't say 'distance no object' but we would be prepared to travel within reason. As you might expect, our charges might be a little dearer to reflect this.
What does the initial meeting cover, and how much will it cost?
When you get in touch with us, we'll recommend an initial meeting in your garden at a time that suits you. This meeting is free of charge and will only last about an hour. This gives us the chance to have a look at your garden as well as meet you, and to discuss what you'd like us to help you with. We'll let you know if we can assist you and recommend some options based on your needs. After the meeting, we'll put our recommendations in writing and send you a quotation.
Are you just for large gardens?
Absolutely not! Small gardens can often have more features than large ones! We'll be delighted to help you with your garden, whatever its size. Because of how we price our work, you're not going to be paying large garden prices!
We've just purchased a new-build but we're really not sure how to go about the garden, which is just a sea of mud. We're quite disheartened, actually, as we really don't have the funds to bring in a designer.
Don't be disheartened - you can do it! We'll be delighted to help you get started. We can look at how much you have to spend and what kind of garden you'd like to create. We can recommend plants, tools, and suggest ways of creating instant impact! An initial consultation with us is free and, as we charge by the hour, we're likely to charge less than you might think.
Are you just for beginner gardeners? I think I know a bit about gardening, so I'm not sure you can help much?
We're not just for beginner gardeners!
Actually, most clients know more than they think; sometimes the issue is confidence applying their knowledge, rather than the knowledge itself!
Anyhow, for intermediate gardeners, I think we can help - perhaps not so much on the ‘how to’ side of things as you’ve probably mastered the main techniques and know your plants! But you’re probably thinking about us because:
◦ You’ve moved into a new property with an established garden and would welcome some help prioritising tasks, either to ensure that it remains as it was when you first saw it, or to bring it back to cultivation from the wilderness it might have become!
◦ You’d welcome a critical friend to bounce your ideas off before you press ahead with some new plans
◦ You’ve acquired a new feature in your garden that you’re unfamiliar with, such as a pond, rock garden or greenhouse and would welcome some guidance
◦ You’ve got an area of the garden that is problematic or annoys you in some way and would welcome some advice.
If this is you, then do get in touch! And remember, if we don't think we can add value, we'll let you know!
I see you produce Garden Maintenance Guides. What do these contain?
Yes, we can provide comprehensive maintenance guides bespoke to your property.
You can expect your Guide to contain the following:
* an introductory narrative of the garden, including comments on its general condition, including identification of noteworthy specimen trees and shrubs
* the aspirations / requirements of the owners, including responses to specific questions or issues
* for each area, maintenance recommendations by season, taking into account owners’ experience and available time, and including sections on (but not limited to):
◦ Grass and lawn upkeep
◦ Trees, shrubs and hedge care
◦ Herbaceous and mixed borders
◦ Additional features including ponds, alpines, greenhouse, potted displays.
If useful, we can include recommendations for improvements , suggested cultural techniques, and provide guidance on useful tools.
We can also make some recommendations on prioritisation of key tasks to ensure that your garden looks as good as it can in the time you have available.
Please note that no part of our reports are AI generated. Each is written as a bespoke document, tailored to your garden, your experience and the time you have available.
Our reports are succinct and jargon- free, and we steer clear of confusing tables and diagrams!
Hmm, I think the Maintenance Reports might be more than I need! Can you do something a little smaller scale?
Yes, absolutely! A popular format are our Garden visits, usually 2-3 hours. You might have a list of questions to discuss with us, or you might not, in which case we'll be pleased to give our observations on your garden, identify plants of note and discuss how best to maintain each area, including grass, trees and shrubs, herbaceous borders, pond care etc. We can talk about how much time you have available and what should take priority in order to keep your garden looking its best! We'll then send you a write-up of our meeting afterwards, including useful hints and tips and helpful resources.
If useful, we can fix up another Garden Visit later in the year to address appropriate seasonal tasks and identify areas for improvement.
Hmm, I like the ethos of The Scottish Country Gardener, but you don't really address what I need...
Do get in touch with your enquiry and we'll see what we can do. If we can't address your need ourselves, we'll try to come up with some useful suggestions for you. We aim to be as flexible as we can!
What sorts of topics can be covered in the online correspondence afterwards, and is there any limit to the number of enquiries we can make?
With every contract, we give our clients 3 months' unlimited email correspondence. This allows you to follow up any of the topics discussed or proposals made. You can email us on anything to do with your garden! We’re happy to act as a critical friend or sounding board. We can advise on plants for specific places in your garden, including ‘problem areas’. We can cover what to prune, when and how. If a plant's not looking too well, or you want to move it, we can help here too. If we can’t answer your question straight back, we’ll look it up using reputable sources.
In some instances, it may not be feasible to handle a topic by correspondence. We'll let you know when this arises and very probably propose a site visit (charged separately).
Can I extend the online service?
You can, yes! For each client, we give you three months of online advice, but you can extend this for a notional fee.
What experience and qualifications do you have?
Just to be upfront, this is a new venture for me. I took early retirement in Autumn 2022 from the world of Higher Education management, vowing that I'd spend the rest of my working life doing something I'm passionate about!
I've been a gardener since I was a small boy and have maintained a variety of gardens of different sizes and styles for over 40 years, including 20 years in our current property which includes a 2-acre walled garden. While I don't (yet) have a professional qualification, I probably tick the knowledge and experience box by now although I'm not sure any gardener will claim to know everything. I keep up to date with what's what in the sector through my membership of the Royal Horticultural Society, and I come fully insured (professional indemnity and public liability).
When I'm not working with clients, strangely enough you'll find me in the garden (as my family will testify!). You can find out what I get up to at home on our garden Instagram and website - thescottishcountrygarden.com. And, if you're interested, all the photos in this website are taken in our garden.
We've just moved to the UK and bought a house with a lovely garden. But a lot of the plants are new to me! Can you help identify them and give us some guidance on their care?
Yes, we'd be delighted to help you! The UK offers an amazing climate for growing plants from all over the world, so you've chosen a great place to live! Do get in touch!
Am I not better just hiring a gardener or a designer?
Well you may be! If you're just not interested, or time is not on your side, then I would recommend you approach a gardener or garden services company. Similarly, if there is an area of your garden that you're just not happy with, which merits a re-design, then we would recommend hiring a designer.
On the other hand, if you're broadly content with the layout of your garden, and you are able to allocate some time to do it yourself, then we can certainly assist with advice on improving areas and identifying suitable plants.
Is your own garden open to the public, and do you give talks?
The garden is occasionally open by appointment only. As time permits, I am available to give talks to groups or take part in 'Gardeners Question Time' events.
Get in touch today!
We'd love to hear from you about your garden. Do get in touch, even if we don't appear to offer quite what you're after. We may still be able to help!