Flights Of Fancy
Gardens Illustrated|April 2017

Embrace uneven landscapes, advises garden designer James Alexander-Sinclair. Those lumps and bumps are the perfect excuse for installing the steps of your dreams.

James Alexander-Sinclair

In the immortal words of Led Zeppelin: ‘There’s a lady who’s sure / All that glitters is gold / And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.’ I have always imagined this staircase to be something that sashays seductively as it disappears into the cumulonimbus; it is made of fine limestone carved with mythical creatures and entwined with exotically scented flowers. One thing is for sure, this is no paltry indoor arrangement, but the spiffiest set of garden steps ever.

There are very, very few gardens without steps, even if it is only one step down from threshold to terrace. This is because the world is not, thank goodness, universally level. There will always be dips and drops, hills and hollows as we attempt to landscape our gardens to our convenience. Steps, more than any other hard landscaped feature in our gardens, have the ability to be so many things. They can be discreet and modest, coquettish, extravagant, sweeping or narrow,but whatever style you choose they all have to work. It is the perfect example of form following function: no matter how pretty a step might be, it is no use if it doesn’t get you up the hill.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GARDENS ILLUSTRATEDView All

In The Kitchen

As the year draws to a close Jojo finds ways to preserve summer’s flavour through the raw months, and makes the most of a glut of grapes

3 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
December 2017

Ahead Of The Curve

Crafted from the timber of 150-year-old oaks, Gaze Burvill’s furniture celebrates tradition, but it is made using cutting-edge technology

3 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
December 2017

Potagers

When is a vegetable garden not a vegetable garden? When it’s a potager of course. But does the distinction come down to anything more than pretension or French good taste?

3 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
December 2017

12 Of Helen And Vicky's Favourite Conifers

12 Of Helen And Vicky's Favourite Conifers

2 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
December 2017

Nature's Widest Canvas

At their home in Vermont, Susan and Rick Richter have collaborated with master stone worker Dan Snow to create a stunning structured landscape

3 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
November 2017

Juan Grimm

The renowned Chilean landscape architect on responding to topography, his passion for evergreens, and why herbaceous perennials are overrated

4 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
November 2017

Rich Heritage

As Parham House in West Sussex prepares to plants out bulbs for next spring, head gardener Tom Brown looks back at one of his favourite tulip combinations

2 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
November 2017

In The Garden

Jojo takes inspiration from a long-established kitchen garden as she considers how to train fruit in her narrow back garden

2 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
November 2017

Sam Pagett

After gaining several years of gardening experience in the UK, Sam is extending his horticultural knowledge with a stint at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.

1 min read
Gardens Illustrated
March 2017

Golden Glory

The sheer magnitude and beauty of the daffodils in Felley Priory’s spring garden have been known to move grown men to tears.

3 mins read
Gardens Illustrated
March 2017
RELATED STORIES

Familiar things

MASTER PAINTERS OF THE WORLD

3 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Creating Emphasis

Working from dark to light colors, Pamela Hamilton’s pastel paintings feature the smallest and brightest marks at the focal point

6 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Off the Board

Animals come to life in intricate detail through the boldness and versatility of Melissa Helene’s scratchboard art

4 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Biophilia

MASTER PAINTERS OF THE WORLD

3 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Make it, love it! BE OUR GUEST!

Impress guests with quick and easy handmade decorations that will add the finishing touches to your dining space

3 mins read
Style at Home
January 2022

OPEN-WATER masterclass (IN THE POOL!)

THE 2021 TRIATHLON RACE SEASON HAS DRAWN TO A CLOSE BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T PRACTISE SPECIFIC OPEN-WATER TECHNIQUES IN THE POOL READY FOR 2022. HERE’S HOW…

8 mins read
220 Triathlon
January 2022

Crochet A Sweet Dream Pet Basket

It’s the easiest and quickest DIY pet basket ever!

2 mins read
Pets Magazine
December 2021 - February 2022

My climber didn't flower

Q I have been waiting patiently for my cup and saucer vine to flower. The seeds were sown in April and plants grew well to about 3ft (90cm), but so far no buds. Should I give up now?

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
November 06, 2021

Self-sufficient bulbs

Flowers that garden themselves may sound too good to be true, but Toby has high hopes for his tulips

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
November 06, 2021

In season berries

Celebrate the summer berry season with these sweet showstoppers.

7 mins read
The Australian Women's Weekly Food
Issue 77 2021