Design work for London Wildlife Trust / London Conservation Services

I have instructed Elaine to create several landscape designs over the past year and I have to say that I wouldn’t take on a design project without her! Elaine’s ability to create wildlife friendly spaces as part of beautiful, sustainable designs make her one of the Trust’s most valued and trusted consultants. Elaine possesses the wonderful ability of being able to bring a site’s design potential to life in a really accessible way. She is also realistic and pragmatic and takes all aspects into consideration to ensure the right design is created for a site. On top of all this, 100% of the design and build contracts that Elaine has completed for the Trust have been delivered on time, to budget and to a high quality.

 Jo Lyon, Contract Manager, London Wildlife Trust/Manager, London Conservation Services

Provenance Row, London

Providence Row is a charity working with homeless people, particularly those who are sleeping rough, with substance misuse and mental health problems.  Our large, paved courtyard was a blank canvass.  It provided an opportunity to create a welcoming, inclusive and beautiful space in stark contrast to the usual experience for our clients.  Elaine understood the transformative nature of the garden for our charity.  Put simply, by valuing our own space we were signalling to our clients that we valued them and their contribution to making and keeping the garden.  Elaine provided a very appropriate design for the site, picking up on existing themes in the buildings and working within the constraints placed upon us.  She was very flexible, approachable and friendly when consulting with clients (some of whom can exhibit quite challenging behaviour at times).  She created opportunities for clients to become involved in growing plants, including things we could eat, without overwhelming them.  Elaine also provided ideas, contacts and further concept plans for other parts of the garden so that we can take forward our next steps in creating a kitchen garden on our roof.

Pam Orchard, CEO

Private Garden, London, Oval.

We had purchased a house which we planned to completely renovate and also to extend in order to make better use of a fairly large corner-plot garden.  The previous elderly owners were green-fingered but the garden was not to our taste and was in need of a complete redesign given the new footprint of the house.

 Neither myself nor my partner knew a great deal about how a project goes from design to build to execution and then to maintenance.  We had some ideas of what the look was we wanted but other than that, we needed someone to take us in hand and guide us through the process.

 Thankfully, Elaine was there to help us.  With many issues around the design and renovation of the house taking priority, we were able to quickly describe our goal to Elaine using pictures from books of hers, design ideas and suggestions as to what we may or may not like in terms of the overall look.  Armed with this information, Elaine came up with a range of four or five ideas from which we chose one to be designed in more detail.

 Once we had a good idea of what we wanted, a builder was assigned to the job and a more detailed species list put together that would create the sort of texture and colour we wanted – lush greenery with accents of colour … relatively low maintenance … comfortable and beautiful but not too groomed.  As first-time garden owners, Elaine also brought our attention other things that we had not thought about such as the aspect of the garden, lighting, drainage and utility space.

 We are absolutely delighted with the end result – it’s a truly fantastic garden that we are going to enjoy watching as it develops.  We can’t recommend Elaine enough.

Goose Green Green Shield

I recently worked with Elaine Hughes and the London Wildlife Trust during a project to install a major new garden at the primary school where I work.  The project took place during a half term week in February and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable half term breaks this year!  Elaine’s passion for all aspects of gardening was infectious and her extensive knowledge of her subject area inspired confidence while the work was taking place and a desire in me to explore plants and gardening when the work was completed.  I left the project with new found interest in gardening (I’ve even started to watch ‘Gardener’s World’!), and a determination and ability to care for the school’s new garden and to pass on the things I’ve learned to our children.  I have no hesitation at all in thoroughly recommending a week spent with Elaine!

 Wendy Simpson

Goose Green Primary & Nursery School

St Joseph’s Primary School VEOLIA wildlife garden competition winners:

A thank you sketch from one of the gardens new users I think I am the Lady with the ‘Spayd’

I think that is meant to be a mega mini beast

Centre for Wildlife Gardening Garden Management Trainee Scheme:

Gardens Management at Centre for Wildlife Gardening



Exploring the factors behind the project’s achievement so far has revealed positive comments from participants on the friendly support given by Elaine. There were high levels of enthusiasm for both the programme subject matter and in ‘playing a part’ in the continuing development of our nature reserve.

Elaine has actively encouraged a creative approach to tackling onsite projects and the more mundane garden duties and has inspired the group through talks, interactive presentations including guest speakers. .

As a follow on from the placements Elaine has been able to signpost our volunteers to other learning opportunities and highlight routes for employment within the Trust leading to a synergy rather than a duplication of the scheme on our other reserves.

Celia Hammond

London Wildlife Trust, Southwark Area Manager


…I was rather uplifted when I found out that I had been accepted onto the trainee scheme run by Elaine Hughes at the London Wildlife Trust’s Centre for Wildlife Gardening in south-east London. I didn’t know quite what to expect from the scheme, but I was familiar with the urban oasis setting of the CWG and was looking forward to, not just helping out as a volunteer, but receiving something a little more that the usual volunteer feel good factor.

Elaine most certainly did not disappoint. Her relaxed approach is deceptively effective. The scheme has a strong thread of wildlife preservation at its core whilst exploring other aspects of gardening and landscaping. Topics that have been covered include maintaining public and private gardens, attention to details within a landscaped setting, ways to approach design briefs and managing new garden projects.

The balance between theory and practical is just right. This is also the case with how Elaine both teaches gardening principles and facilitates and directs self learning through group discussions, site visits and…. light homework. Elaine’s enthusiasm is contagious and her advice to each individual in each situation that arises is considered and enlightening. Not everyone in such a position manages to strike these balances.

Since joining this scheme my passion for, and knowledge of wildlife gardening and landscaping has grown beyond expectation. The scheme (and Elaine) have given me the confidence to put this knowledge into practice. So much so that I recently put forward a funding and project appraisal for a project within the London Wildlife Trust, had it accepted, and am due to completed the project very soon.

May I take this opportunity to say ‘Thank You!’ to Elaine Hughes and all those involved in making this scheme happen. It’s simply invaluable…

Curt Brown

 …Attending evening courses and volunteering at CWG played an essential role in giving me the experience necessary to successfully apply to study Landscape Architecture at Greenwich University. I have continued to benefit from my time spent at CWG throughout my studies, time and again applying the ecological knowledge and practical skills and interests that I developed there.  Elaine Hughes in particular helped tailor the training I was given to my specific interests and has continued to provide valuable support even after I stopped volunteering and I am certain that the experience gained at CWG will assist me in achieving my goal of becoming a Professional Landscape Architect. 

Dave McCullum

…The Volunteer Training Scheme provides an excellent opportunity to gain hands on gardening experience. Practical learning is very well supported through classroom based theory sessions, talks from visiting professionals, and some fantastic local site visits. I’m now studying Landscape Architecture, and often call upon many of the practical lessons I learnt in the garden. It was great to meet like-minded people, who all share an interest in the natural environment.

Rowan Case.

…I found the scheme both incredibly enjoyable and useful for my professionaldevelopment . I am currently studying for an RHS horticultural course and the practical skills and theoretical knowledge that I gained during the scheme have been invaluable to me in achieving my desired grades. I am hoping to move into the sector in a professional capacity and this course has provided a great basis for this. I would definitely recommend it to other people in a similar situation. 

Olivia Steed

One Day design courses

From Saturday’s brilliant Garden Design with Wildlife in Mind course with the amazing Elaine Hughes – what a fantastic presenter,  full of knowledge and passion for the subject.


And finally from a recent client who wishes to remain anonymous…

Elaine has top-notch design skills but, more importantly, she always answers the phone with a flourish, which is right up our street. She is also one of very few people known to us that takes sugar in tea. We really like this too. Other highlights include the ability to sail to place of work (as long as it is near water) and a side-kick in the form of a cat that can morph into a seal at will.