Lulu Roper-Caldbeck | YMC – You Must Create
Horticulture has evolved from a lockdown hobby to a mindful and enjoyable pastime for many. We sat down with Lulu Roper-Caldeck, a London based Garden Designer who inspires urban gardeners with her love of greenery and innovative architectural plantscapes.
How do you describe what you do?
I work as a garden designer, mainly in London but have also recently taken on projects slightly further afield. The work I do for my clients include all elements of the design and build process, from creating designs and drawings of the proposed space to specifying all the hard landscaping elements and selecting plants.
Have you always gardened? How, and from whom, did you learn?
No, I haven’t – I was always interested in design though as I previously worked in fashion and then also interiors a bit before retraining. Both my parents have always been keen gardeners though and my grandfather was a florist, so I guess the influences were always there. My garden design training also included a year of studying horticulture – learning all about plants and how to design with them, as well as pests and diseases and general maintenance. Gardening is a constant learning process, especially within my garden which I treat as a bit of a testing ground. Whilst the gardens I create for my clients are a lot more harmonious in how they are planned and planted, mine is slightly more haphazard and I often buy plants I like the look of just to try them out – see how they grow in London and see whether or not I could then use them in my other designs.
How did your relationship with gardening change or deepen over the various lockdowns?
Yes, it increased as it was how I spent my time, especially in the first lockdown. I had recently moved house to the place we are now, the house itself was nothing special but it came with a huge garden which we immediately fell in love with. At the time we moved in it was completely overgrown with a few rundown sheds and outbuildings. We were incredibly lucky to have a green space to enjoy during the lockdown, and for the first time, it also meant we had time to work on it and were extremely productive. We did a huge amount of clearing and set in place a large vegetable garden as well as lots of other planting. It was important to have the time to reconnect with the soil and actually do some gardening, as being a garden designer most of my work is studio-based.
Are there gardeners that you look up to or have learned from?
Yes, my parents have a great understanding of gardens so I would always tap them up for advice, it’s also nice now that I can share my knowledge with them. I also sometimes collaborate with another designer Matt Jones (@londonplantsman), it is always fun working on projects together and exchanging ideas, he started gardening at a very early age and has the most incredibly wide knowledge of plants. I also love the work of Fergus Garret who has created such a diverse and exciting space at Great Dixter with unexpected planting combinations and an incredible mix of texture and colour. There are also many landscape designers whose work I always refer to such as Dan Pearson, Sarah Price, Teresa Moller and Luis Barragan.
You founded and ran cult fashion and interiors boutique, Darkroom, for many years. How did it feel to leave that behind and move into this new stage of work and life?
It was a fairly easy transition at the time as I was ready for a change of direction. For the 7 years, we had the store, there was so much I loved about Darkroom and felt proud of what we had created. We had a wonderful team and many lovely, loyal customers, we were also lucky to work with so many emerging and talented designers and bought the things we loved. It did, however, come with the usual pressures of running a retail business and when we were hit with a hefty rent increase it made the decision to leave easier. I was ready for something new and wanted to retrain. I felt more than ever the need to be out in nature and loved creating the very tiny garden we had at the time, which in turn then became the catalyst for going into garden design.
How would you describe your personal aesthetic or design philosophy?
As most of my work is in London, I see creating a garden as a way of extending the internal space outside. I enjoy the narrative between the buildings and the surrounding gardens, and it is this blurring of the boundaries which I think unifies my projects. I think gardens should look and feel like they have always been there and not simply an afterthought. I try to create spaces that are wholly immersive, with each element working together and the right balance between the hard landscaping and wilder naturalistic planting
You renovated a listed building, doing much of the work yourself with your partner. What did you learn from that process?
Most importantly about the actual construction process and how buildings are fabricated. This in turn has given me a lot more confidence in the work I do now and the communication I have with my contractor. The most important aspects of gardens are generally hidden such as the foundations, groundwork and drainage, knowing how these work is vital.
Do you have a favourite plant? Or one that you find recurs often in the gardens you design?
I like to incorporate a lot of ornamental grasses in my designs which work well in adding softness, lightness and movement. My favourite plant though would probably be salvia’s – beautiful scents and such a diverse range of colours and forms – they are also a magnet for bees.
Has spending so much time around plants impacted the way you interact with yourself and others?
I think it has probably taught me a lot about patience, slowing down and also that some things are simply out of our control.
What would your dream commission be?
Most of the work I do is residential which I enjoy, however they remain secret and hidden – only to be enjoyed by the client. Whilst I like this intimate relationship of working closely with a client and designing a space for them, I would also love to do more public work. A few years ago I worked on a project with Patternity for the London Design Festival where they installed a modular Life Labyrinth outside of Westminster Cathedral which took visitors on a walking experience through the space and into the centre where they were surrounded by planting which I designed. I loved working on this project due to it being in such a public domain where it was enjoyed by anyone, even if they were simply passing through and needed somewhere to sit and have a coffee. It brings me so much joy to see how quickly planting can bring nature and tranquility into urban and built-up areas, and from this how instantly the sights and sounds of bees butterflies would emerge. It would be a dream to do something on this scale again which could be a permanent green space in the city for passerby’s, visitors and local residents to enjoy.
Finally, this year we are asking all of our Journal interviewees to complete the following phrase to help us celebrate 25 years of You Must Create (YMC):
You Must Create… time to connect with nature.
Gardeners Cottage | Caldbeck | Hesket Newmarket | The Lake District And Cumbria
- Off road parking
- Ground floor accommodation
- Ground floor bedroom
- Garden / Patio
- Cot available
- Highchair available
- Pub/shop < 1 mile
- Washing machine
- Broadband / WiFi
Reviews & Ratings
Accuracy of the listing
Facilities and Maintenance
- All reviews
- cottage (16)
- lovely (12)
- garden (9)
- beautiful (7)
- clean (6)
- location (6)
19 Customer Reviews
“Cosy cottage in a quiet location about 1 mile from Heskett Newmarket where there is a very good pub serving meals.
The cottage was very clean and well equipped for 2 people and our dog.
Lovely garden surrounded by fields with sheep & lambs so not secure for our inquisitive dog.
Reviewed by EileenApr 2023
“Had the listing described the twin room as a mezzanine then we would not have booked this property.”
We visited as a family of 4 with two small boys aged 4 and 6. As their room was a mezzanine, once they had gone to sleep we were unable to use the living room as the noise of chat or TV would have woken them. The wifi only works in the kitchen. Not a huge deal for us, more of a minor inconvenience. The hosts however are lovely and could not have been more hospitable. Even being kind enough to lend us some ground coffee until we could get to the shops the next day. The property was also impeccably clean and in a wonderful, quiet spot a short drive from Hesket Newmarket.
Reviewed by FrancesDec 2022
“Had a lovely holiday in this idyllic cottage.”
Would highly recommend Gardeners Cottage to anyone wanting peace and quiet.
Reviewed by StephenSep 2022
“Gardener’s cottage maybe small but it’s very cosy!”
The cottage is attached to Jane & Geoff’s farm house, but the large garden is all yours during your stay, it was ideal for our dog and sitting outside at the table or on the bench ( our dog Dylan is a sprockapoo ) we found the garden very secure, but our dog knows not to go out of the garden.
There was every thing we needed in the cottage for our ten day stay. If there is anything you need Jane and Geoff are on hand.
It’s an ideal base for exploring the Lake District. There’s a pub and village shop within walking distance in Hesket Newmarket.
We’d have no hesitation of returning to Gardeners Cottage.
Di & Norman
Reviewed by DianeAug 2022
“Beautiful little cottage, most clean cottage we have stayed in yet, lovely …”
Beautiful little cottage, most clean cottage we have stayed in yet, lovely goodies and thoughtful facilities, peaceful and a warm welcome
Reviewed by HelenAug 2022
“Lovely comfortable cottage in glorious countryside.”
Great to be able to take our dog on his first holiday . Everything we needed for a short Lakes break. Very friendly hosts.
Might be worth adding that this is not a location for anyone who needs guaranteed connectivity.
Reviewed by AmandaOct 2021
“The property is not where it is located on the Sykes web site.
It is about half a mile away, Luckily not too much of a problem as we could still walk to our friends house near by. The owner was lovely and the cottage was perfect for the two of us. But not sure I would Sykes again.
Reviewed by JenniferAug 2021
“A lovely cosy cottage on a working farm surrounded by beautiful countryside.”
Very well equipped with everything we needed for a comfortable stay for a few days. The hosts were very friendly and helpful and left us some lovely biscuits and supplies of tea & coffee. We would definitely stay at Gardeners Cottage again.
Reviewed by SallyAug 2021
“Lovely cottage, warm, comfortable and has a ‘home’ feeling.”
Location is very peaceful, we slept like logs! Wonderful base to explore Lake District
Reviewed by AnnaOct 2020
“Friendly and helpful owners.
Exceptionally well prepared holiday let in a great peaceful location.
Would certainly recommend this property to anyone looking for an ideal base from which to explore the Lakes but who don’t want to be in amongst the overly commercialised areas.
Reviewed by MichaelSep 2020
“Lovely people, lovely cottage, beautiful garden, great surrounding scenery.”
We could not fault this cottage
Reviewed by TimothyAug 2020
“Really nice cottage and very nice people, felt peaceful and was quiet.”
An ideal place to stay.
I wrote a message in the guest book that was incorrect. I wrongly thought that the owner had turned off the electricity before we left to remind us to leave on time. I later learned that was a power-cut and had a…Doh moment. I can only apologise to the owner.
Reviewed by RaymondAug 2020
“This cottage is set in beautiful surroundings on a well kept farm, and we were …”
This cottage is set in beautiful surroundings on a well kept farm, and we were made to feel very welcome by the owners who are busy farmers, very quiet location which was perfect after visiting all the local attractions
Reviewed by CarolineAug 2020
“A wonderful cosy cottage with everything you need.”
Great garden with scenic views to relax in on an evening. Ideally placed in North Cumbria to explore the Lakes and coast. Overall a very satisfying stay.
Reviewed by DavidJul 2020
“The cottage was fantastic, such a lovely location with a beautiful garden.
All of the facilities were great and the location was ideal for everywhere we wanted to visit.
I would most certainly and already have recommended you to friends and family.
We would be very happy to return at some point.
Reviewed by DavidAug 2019
“We had a lovely stay at Gardeners Cottage in such beautiful surroundings.”
The cottage itself is small but very clean and well equipped. The Garden area is idea for relaxing or playing with small children or a dog .As long as you are aware that the bedrooms and en-suite are small you will have a perfect holiday . It certainly didn’t spoil our stay.
Reviewed by AnneJul 2019
“The ad says 2 bathrooms, but there is only the en suite which is tiny.”
The en suite is so small you can hardly dry yourself after a shower. The shower was extremely slippery and there is nothing to grab if you slip.
The bed was up against the wall so the person sleeping on that side of the bed could only get out by climbing over the other person. The bed could not be pulled away from the wall as there was not enough room. Anyone else staying in the cottage needing the bathroom during the night has to enter the bedroom to use the en suite. AS THERE IS ONLY ONE BATHROOM NOT TWO.
The garden is shared with owner and it is immaculate. Pesonally we were nervous to let out dog into the garden in case he damage the plants when chasing the ball. Also, and this is purely a personal opinion, it is not secure garden. My dog is only small but he can jump and would have easily been able to jump the wall to get in the next field, which contained sheep. There is a road that boarders the end of the cottage garden and the fence would be easy for any small dog to get through. Very often the garden gate to the garden was left open. This lead into the open farm yard on out onto the road.
The cottage was clean, warm and contained everything you needed, the owner was pleasant and extremely helpful. However, I am sorry to say, due to the size of the bathroom and the unsecure garden I would not come back.
The property has only one en suite shower room . There is no mention of two bathrooms on the website just the one. Property Owner
Reviewed by JulieJun 2019
“A lovely clean, well equipped cottage, set in a beautiful area.”
We had a great time.
Reviewed by AbigailJul 2018
“An excellent base provided by a very pleasant and helpful couple.”
Reviewed by JohnMar 2018
This property is part of the Lakes Cottage Holidays collection.
Let Lakes Cottage Holidays be in your plans for your next Holiday
- Two Bedrooms: 1 x first floor mezzanine twin bedroom with sloping ceiling suitable for children, 1 x ground floor double with en-suite shower room, basin and WC
- Sitting room
- Electric oven, electric hob, microwave, fridge, washing machine
- TV, DVD player, CD player, WiFi
- Fuel and power inc. in rent
- Bed linen and towels inc. in rent
- Highchair and travel cot available on request
- Off-road parking
- Enclosed garden with lawn and furniture
- One well behaved dog welcome
- Sorry, no smoking
- Shop 1. 5 miles, pub 1.5 miles
- Note: Mezzanine level bedroom opens above the sitting room so TV can be heard from bedroom, please bear this in mind when booking
Gardeners Cottage is a wonderful retreat located within the village of Caldbeck resting on a working farm.
Perfect for couples or a small family this cottage makes an ideal base for a relaxing holiday, with a twin bedroom on the first floor that is suitable for children due to its sloping ceiling, leading downstairs to the main accommodation where you will find a further double bedroom with an en-suite shower room.
The characterful lounge with its beamed ceiling boasts views over the garden with a feature inglenook fireplace including an electric stove, creating a lovely space to relax and unwind.
The breakfast kitchen is equipped for all of your holiday needs where you can appreciate a family meal in true style.
The garden is a charming spot to unwind benefitting from a rural outlook; a warm welcome awaits you from the owners who will be pleased to show the children around the farm and animals.
The local village pub is a short walk away, here you can enjoy a home cooked bar meal and sample a pint made in their very own brewery.
The village is an ideal base for the northern Lakes, the market town of Keswick, as well as Lakes Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite.
The natural beauty of the Solway coast, well-known for its golf courses and the town of Cockermouth is not to be missed.
Please note that no pets are allowed to be left unattended in the cottage
View on map
About the location
Wigton 7.5 miles; Carlisle 12 miles; Keswick 16 miles; Cockermouth 17 miles.
The charming Cumbrian village of Caldbeck is situated on the northern fringes of the Lake District National Park and is surrounded by beautiful moorland and fells.