Award winners only here! Let’s find out what makes them so popular with the judges

Karen McClure

What is your approach to sustainability and the environment?

Our approach is focused on internal team education, our specification of materials, mindfulness of our carbon footprint, water conservation and repurposing / using existing site materials and plants wherever we can. We utilise Microsoft Teams and Zoom for meetings to reduce time spent driving around, investigate and challenge our suppliers on their ‘green’ credentials more rigorously and ensure that we incorporate more soft landscape than hardscape into our designs to help encourage wildlife and biodiversity. We love nothing more than planting trees! We are always keen to educate ourselves further on this topic by attending industry seminars and events too.

What are 2022’s garden trends?

The pandemic has most certainly boosted positive attitudes to our outdoor spaces, not only for functionality – more people working from home has meant more demand for outdoor rooms for offices, for example – but also from the perspective of our health and wellbeing. Our gardens became little sanctuaries of therapy. There will be a continued trend for outdoor rooms and there has definitely been an increased appreciation and financial investment in outdoor design. We also envisage the continued experimentation and love of growing produce, which was reincarnated in a big way during the various lockdowns! We are committed to encouraging wildlife and pollinators into our plant and tree schemes and we know our clients love this.

What or who inspires your work?

I work in a super inspiring industry and there are many other designers and landscapers whose work I adore – however, I often find a lot of inspiration directly from my own team, whether it be their ideas, their work ethos or professionalism.  I am also motivated by the life journeys of other entrepreneurs and find people’s ‘back stories’ super interesting, too.  

As Accredited Designers of BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries), the APL (Association of Professional Landscapers) and the SGD (Society of Garden Designers), Karen McClure and her team have had several nominations and have scooped:

  • APL National Awards Best in Category & Gold award for Soft Landscaping for a stunning ‘Urban Jungle’ garden in Tunbridge Wells
  • APL National Awards Silver Award for their design on a detailed bespoke walled courtyard garden in Sevenoaks (pictured)
  • APL National Awards Finalist & Gold award by landscaper, Esse Landscaper who built their lovely contemporary garden in Copthorne.
  • The highest merit of 5 stars from RHS Chelsea for their work on the Cashmere Caveman trade stand at the show last September.
  • The local Muddy Stilettos Award for Garden Designer Kent
  • Finalists in the Pro-landscaper Business Awards 2020

karenmcclure.co.uk

Frogheath

What services do Frogheath provide?
Frogheath Landscapes provide all aspects of landscaping – hard landscaping (e.g. brickwork and paving), planting, complete re-designs or garden refurbishments. We work with residential, new build and commercial properties within a 30-mile radius of our base in Burwash, East Sussex.

Tell us about your work at RHS Chelsea and RHS Hampton Court

We are a multi award-winning company and have completed many gardens for the RHS shows. These include ‘Donkeys Matter’ which won the People’s Choice Award 2019 and various other charity builds over the years.

How do you encourage the next generation of gardeners?
Frogheath Landscapes take on two apprentice landscape gardeners per year. We work closely with local agricultural colleges such as Plumpton. We often work in schools where the children are quite keen to get involved where possible. 

Tell us a bit about your process.
Prospective customers are encouraged to contact us via the website, email or give us a call during office hours. Here we ascertain their initial ideas, and we book in a free site visit with the director, Steve. It is during this visit where we discuss the client’s requirements. Sometimes a garden designer is required – we have several we work with closely, including Tina Vallis, as we have a new design studio on site at Frogheath. We then make that design a reality.   

  • Frogheath Landscapes has won multiple awards for gardens at RHS Chelsea and RHS Hampton Court as well as an impressive collection of awards from the Association of Professional Landscapers

frogheath.co.uk

XL Pools

How has swimming pool technology changed over the years? 

The biggest advancement we have found are the one piece swimming pools, they are installed as one shell. These are installed in a matter of days rather than weeks. They are typically stronger and more hygienic than regular pools. We have also seen an advancement in swimming pool heating – we use air source heat pumps, they are more cost effective than gas, oil or full electric heaters.

What do you specialise in? 

We install high quality swimming pools – but that’s not all! We are with you at every step of your journey: from the initial concept, designing of the pool, all the way through to the installation and aftercare of your new pool. 

Tell us about a favourite installation.

Our favourite installation has to be the Hawkins Project (above). The pool project at an already stunning home, set on a hillside with amazing views, provided an ideal opportunity to showcase how our years of expertise and adaptable and fluid approach extends to not just the pool design itself but the immediate and not-so-immediate surrounding areas. We included an additional safe and secure area for the younger members of the family and the landscape design, too. We really enjoyed creating this swimming pool. This pool is nothing like we have done before: the pool surround is unique and striking, with the paving set in a diamond shape and grass separation which was designed by our customer.

XL Pools’ most recent awards were won at the SPATA Awards in January, and EUSA (European) awards in 2021. They took home:

  • 2 gold SPATA awards
  • 1 silver SPATA award
  • 1 bronze SPATA award
  • SPATA Outstanding pool of the year award for one of their residential builds
  • 1 gold EUSA award for an indoor pool installation
  • EUSA contractor of the year in 2015, 2018 & 2020

xlpools.com

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