Melissa Hay

Garden Historian & Design Consultant

Melissa Hay from Fabled Gardens

I have designed and made gardens for over three decades. My background is garden history, I love research and would welcome projects that draw on archival sources.

Garden History intriguingly widens the definition of ‘what is a garden’ which is what lead me into Garden Design

I have travelled and visited gardens all over the world.

From 1984 until 1991 I taught Garden Design and Garden History at several Adult Education Colleges.

Teaching refines ones ideas, in having to express them

In 1991/ 92 I did an MA in the Conservation of Historic Parks and Gardens. I loved the research and academic work and have continued to apply the principles of conservation in many of my projects

I have worked primarily in London but although I am very comfortable working within the genre of Arts & Crafts or traditional Victorian or Edwardian London gardens, I would now welcome a wider remit

I have designed gardens throughout the UK, also in France, Italy, America and even a Rose garden on the banks of the Nile !

As I now spend part of my time in the South of France I am doing more work in this area, enjoying the challenge of finding and using a different vernacular , materials and plant palette.

Regardless of location the principles of design remain the same – a response to the place. Although it may now be a cliche of garden designers websites “ the spirit of the place “ (Alexander Pope) is essentially what informs my work.

My style is not in essence ‘my style’  There is no imposition.

In responding to the place it is always possible to bring out the best qualities that the site possesses

I like a strong framework, to loose the boundaries, to create mystery. Blending the practical with the beautiful

I have a preference for reclaimed or natural materials

Craftsmanship and attention to detail are essential.

To make a garden that looks as though it grew out of the site. A garden that has always been there.

Fabled Gardens LogoFabled Gardens was established in 1983

The name derives from a private press book of the same name that I produced, in collaboration with a colleague, at Bath Academy

The logo is is taken from a photograph of an Etruscan sarcophagus , taken at Iford Manor Garden.

The company was formed immediately after leaving Bath Academy with no business experience at all. I certainly couldn’t type and I didn’t own a calculator. However, I was extremely lucky and despite the above and the most minimal of local advertising, the time was right and I became busy almost immediately. Referral from happy clients became the way work was generated and has continued to date.  I have designed gardens for a broad range of clients, including corporations,  architects, major construction companies, historic houses and many private homes