Vanessa Pine Joh Bates Studio

Vanessa Pine

Vanessa Pine is a communications consultant living in Kennington and nurturing a start up business Atlas Partners rather than her window boxes.



The house where I was born was surrounded by garden with a small wood on three sides and backing onto the farmers field behind. It remains in my memory and imagination as a series of magical play places.

A secret circular green room underneath a low hanging willow tree where I would host lavish teddy bears tea parties. A fallen tree trunk, into which my dad had chainsawed two seats and fixed an old steering wheel so my baby brother and I could co­pilot our rocket ship to space. A copse of wind whispering black bamboo behind which we reared pheasant chicks one year.

A slate paved terrace at the side of the house with raised beds, where I once sat patiently (allegedly for hours) with my first ever camera to take pictures of the blue tits on the bird feeder. Behind the tall herbaceous boarder facing the front door across the lawn there was a path that separated the garden from the woods, where one year I prepared a great stock pile of snowballs only to discovered that everyone else had got cold, long tired of the snowball fight and retired inside.


In my parents house in Somerset where we later moved there is a huge great copper beech tree and I adore the change in colours that it displays from Spring to Autumn. Springy green leaf sprouts give way to almost black, then deep purple red and orange before they finally drop. Even without leaves I love the architectural structure that trees provide in the wild and in gardens.

My mums favourite flowers are freesias, most often brought home for her by my dad. Little trumpets in red, orange, white or purple that smell intensely sweet and pretty.

I love both primrose and snowdrop, appearing alongside the paths, in hedgerows on our dog walks as the first signs of Spring’s arrival.

One of my favourite paintings is the Klimt picture of a silver birch forest and I love the real life texture of peely white bark along the slender limbs and the delicate little lime green leaves in contrast.

Turns out I’m a massive tree fan, because my fifth would be the gum trees of Australia, for their corkscrew branches, silvery grey leaves, camouflage dappled barks and the way they scent whole neighbourhoods with eucalyptus oil on warm days. There are apparently more than 200 different species of gum tree but I never got bored of watching them go by on my travels.

Joh Bates Studio_Vanessa Pine Atlas-Partners copper beech, somerset 2015

Copper beech, Somerset 2015

Joh Bates Studio_Vanessa Pine Atlas-Partners silver birches ­ Klimt 1906

Silver birches ­ Klimt 1906



My current garden ­is a few sad house plants and an even sorrier looking window box. Looks like the green fingers skipped a generation!

Joh Bates Studio_Vanessa Pine Atlas-Partners

My current garden..



As a communication campaigns and political specialist I’m a fully paid up member of the Westminster Village, which means my favourite garden is St James’s Park.

A walk in St James’s is my lunchtime solace, pre-­meeting preparation zone and after work summer chill out spot. It is also a supremely well designed garden. As you make your way around its next corner you are struck by a carefully curated long view that reveals a bridge, or a fountain or the golden victory outside Buckingham Palace, or the archways and marching square of horse guards parade.

In spring it has wonderful yellow and purple crocuses to brighten even bleak days. In summer there are jolly striped deck-chairs facing the bandstand and colourful crowds of tour groups for people watching fun. In Autumn there are acers that provide a rolling display of red and copper foliage, whilst you sit on the wide wooden deck of the cafe safe from rain with a warming drink. Even in winter, the hardest time for a garden to shine, the structural planting, mature trees and gently undulating lines of the paths and the lake still provide beautiful forms to please the eye.


There are pointy mountains in the background with bright blue skies. On one side there is a steep shady cliff with waterfalls and pools and carefully selected rocks, delicate ferns, cycads, acers and evergreens.

On the other side a large lawn (with neat stripes the like of which my dad perfects weekly at home) sits in the sun, but still has a few surrounding tall trees to protect you from the glare in summer.

The planting colour palette is silver grey to deep green with a few spots of hot pink, dark red, copper and lime green as the seasons progress. Herbs and vegetables grow close to the kitchen surrounding a more formal paved area that has a trellis hung heavy with bougainvillea and a huge table for outdoor dinner parties.

I have a garden office which means I can enjoy the view from my desk all year round, especially of the hot young gardener who clearly would be required to maintain such herbaceous bounty as my skills are woefully inadequate!

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