Today is National Meadows Day, but why are wildflower meadows important?

National Meadows Day

Today is National Meadows Day, but why are wildflower meadows important?

National Meadows Day is an annual day that celebrates wildflower meadows in the UK.  Sadly, our meadows have been reducing in numbers for some years, with only 2% of meadows in the UK that existed in the 1930s remaining.


Why are meadows important?

Meadows play a significant role in nature and offer many environmental benefits, such as carbon storage, water retention and flood prevention.  As well as making for a good habitat for crop pollinators, they also provide support for a huge range of species and wildlife.

Species supported by meadows include: fungi, wildlflowers, bees, beetles, spiders, moths, butterflies (papillons), reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, bats and birds.  Many of these are priority species that have been identified as being the most threatened and require conservation action under the UK Boidiversity Action Plan (UK BAP).


Fyvie, Aberdeenshire

Featured below is a meadow that Papillon installed in Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, last year.  Within 12 months, it has grown to waste height and looking fantastic.  It blends in nicely with the surrounding countryside and is doing its bit to help nature!

Save Our Magnificent Meadows is the UK’s largest partnership project aiming to transform the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife.  Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project is helping to increase the number of wildflower meadows and grasslands in the UK and giving people the chance to learn about wildflower meadows and grasslands, visit them and enjoy them.  For more information visit:


Designing a garden with a meadow

From a design perspective, wildflower meadows can be a great use of unused space.  As well as the environmental benefits, they are pleasing on the eye and easy to manage.  Not only are they suitable for large spaces, but they can also be scaled down and used in smaller gardens too, where wildflower patches can be turned into features and cordoned off with stylish panels.

For families with small children, the kids can get involved and play an active role in planting them and managing them.  Maintaining a wildflower meadow is a straight forward process.  They will need a little attention to help with their development and cut back on overpowering grasses, but, on the whole, they are easy to look after.

For more information on installing a meadow, please contact Papillon directly.



Can you plant shrubs and flowers under trees?

Can you plant shrubs and flowers under trees?

Yes, you can plant shrubs and flowers under trees, but there are a few caveats and considerations to make. First of all, planting under trees is probably the hardest place to grow plants in your garden. Not only do trees leave no root space, but their leaves reduce light and they are thirsty, leaving little water for other organisms. They also tend to change the soil pH, taking away essential nutrients for other plants. All of these aspects make it difficult to grow plants under them and many, quite simply, won’t make it.

What can you do to make plants survive under trees?

Consider the following…

What type of trees are you planting under?
Large evergreen conifer trees offer the worst conditions to plant under! You will find they will have large shaded areas around them and the soil will be powder dry 12 months of the year. Your plants will need to be drought tolerant. Deciduous small trees with open canopies, such as Rowans (Sorbus) or most fruit trees, will be a smaller obstacle to overcome in all ways.

The age of the tree(s)
More established trees will also change what options you have available to you. Newly planted trees can be underplanted with shrubs that will establish without issue. By the time a tree gets greedy with resources your shrubs will have their roots down deep enough to get what they need.

The aspect of the area
Don’t overlook which side of the tree you’re looking to underplant. Only planting areas to the north side of a tree will be in full shade. The south side of a tree will be in full sun and so that completely changes the list of plants you can use. The west/east sides of a tree will be in part shade, with the areas only being shaded by the canopy of a tree for part of the day.

Money and time available
To successfully plant under large established trees, you will need quite a bit of free time and money. The larger the area, the greater the resources you’ll need to put into making the project a success. Often it can be cheaper to remove the tree altogether and instead install screening and/ or replace the trees with young less greedy species.

Other low cost and low maintenance options to consider: Make a barked seating area underneath your tree or even create a wildlife sanctuary where you can let nature take over by not removing weeds.

The Soil
Most planting areas under established trees will be acidic due to rotting leaf-fall. Soil under conifer trees may be dangerously acidic and severely limit plants you can grow. It’s always a good idea to do a soil test and even lime the soil if needed to bring the pH up to 6-7.
A clay soil is usually the wettest; under a tree it can become compacted and solid, not letting water through the top crust however this also means nutrients will be held onto better. Sandy soils will be easier to water but you will struggle to get nutrients to your plants. Beech and yew trees famously add toxins into the soil to discourage other plants. If these are the established trees you’re planting under, you will struggle.

Wind & Pests
With all new planting it’s important to consider damage from rabbits, hares, cats and wind. If these are not a problem where you live then you don’t need to worry. If in doubt either choose wind/ animal resistant plants or protect your new planting area with fencing.

Top Tips

For more top tips for growing plants around trees see our last blog: Top tips for growing plants around trees.

Choosing the right plants
Choosing the right plants will play a massive role in their survival. Each plant must be suitable for the situation around it.

To help with plant selection under trees, we’ve put together a list of plants that can be used in different situations:

Drought tolerant plants for part-full shade (for under evergreen trees):
- Viburnum tinus
- Viburnum x bodnantense
- Euonymus japonicus
- Sedum spectabile
- Pulmonaria officinalis
- Begenia cordifolia
- Eranthis hyemalis
- Narcissus (any)
- Cotoneaster (any)
- Berberis darwinii
- Choisya ternata
- Mohonia x media (don’t use in high winds)
- Populus deltoides ‘purple tower’
- Lamium maculatum
- Alchemilla mollis
- Galanthus (any)
- Hedera (any)
- Ilex (any)
- Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae
- Dryopteris wallichiana
- Matteuccia struthiopteris
- Cornus alba
- Cornus kousa
- Cornus mas
- Parrotia persica
- Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Atropurpureum’
- Sorbus hupehensis
- Buddleia (any)


Dry shade / part shade plants (for raised beds or under small deciduous trees):
- Everything in the list above
- Hosta (any)
- Rhododendron (any)
- Hakonechloa macra
- Anemone japonica
- Anemone blanda
- Astilbe (any)
- Leucanthemum (any)
- Thalictrum (any)
- Astrantia (any)
- Origanum (any)
- Acer Palmatum
- Acer campestre
- Carpinus betulus
- Liriope muscari
- Brunnera macrophylla
- Most ferns
- Symphyotrichum cordifolium
- Skimmia japonica
- Viburnum davidii
- Meconopsis (any)
- Berberis (any)
- Ophiopogon japonicus
- Acuba japonica (don’t use in high winds)
- Fatsia japonica (don’t use in high winds)
- Persicaria bistorta
- Phormium tenax (plain green variety)
- Filipendula (any)


Drought tolerant plants for full sun
(on the south side of a tree):

- Populus purple tower
- Santolina chamaecyparissus
- Kniphofia uvaria
- Stachys byzantina
- Nepeta (any)
- Jasminum nudiflorum
- Cupressus macrocarpa
- Sedum spectabile
- Cupressus sempervirens
- Perovskia atriplicifolia
- Rosmarinus officinalis
- Euphorbia characias
- Origanum vulgare
- Stipa tenuissima
- Helichrysum italicum
- Lavandula (any)
- Thuja orientalis
- Cupressocyparis leylandii
- Artemisia (any)
- Cytisus
- Euonymus (any)
- Phormium tenax
- Salvia (any)
- Phlomis (any)
- Ceanothus (any)
- Senecio viravira
- Thymus (any)
- Achillea filipendulina
- Cistus (any)
- Salvia officinalis
- Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine'
- Caryopteris x clandonensis
- Iberis sempervirens
- Rosmarinus officinalis
- Festuca glauca
- Elymus magellanicus
- Buddleia (any)
- Acer Rubrum
- Quercus ilex

For more information on planting design and garden design, contact Papillon directly. We have our in-house plant experts who can advise.

Top tips for growing plants around trees

Top tips for growing plants around trees

Planting around trees can be tricky in a garden.  There are many considerations to make, such as the age of the tree, the type and its aspect in your garden.  We have a few tips that will help your green friends survive under and around thirsty trees:


Raised beds

A trick Papillon uses in areas where there are trees is to raise the soil level up 300mm+.  This gives you virgin soil to use, which is outside of the tree’s root system. It’s important not to bury the trunk of the tree with soil, so consider using a partition round the trunk to prevent this. Over time, the roots of the tree can work their way into the raised bed but by that time your plants should be established. Raising the soil level up will also bring plants out of harm’s way from soil toxins.


Using a mulch & compost 

You should always plant with lots of compost and a high phosphorus feed when planting under trees! Without this, new plants under established trees will struggle. This will give extra help to the plant in an already difficult situation. A thick (25mm-40mm) mulch of bark, compost, manure or bark will reduce water loss, weed competition and add fertility to a new planted area too.


Automatic watering

Under large established conifer trees, such as pines or leylandii, you’ll need to water new planting up to 10x more than in a normal new planting conditions. You can set up irrigation to come on automatically every day of the growing season (April-November) for the first couple of years of establishment to make sure your plants are getting the water they need.


Choose the right plants

Plants that you choose must be suitable for each situation; there are plants that are drought tolerant and good for partly or fully shaded areas and others that are more suitable for full sunlight. We’ve put together a list of plants to use in different conditions, which will follow in our next blog, Can you plant shrubs and flowers under trees?.


For more information on garden design and garden styling please contact us directly.

APL Bronze Award 2019 Papillon Designs & Landscaping


Ballater garden recognised at national APL Awards in London

Summer house in Ballater garden | Papillon Designs & Landscaping

Ballater garden recognised at national APL Awards in London

A garden in Ballater, designed by Papillon, has been recognised in this year’s APL (Association of Professional Landscapers) Awards, in the category Overall Design & Build. Garden Designer, Angelique Robb of Papillon Designs & Landscaping, was awarded a Bronze prize for her work on the garden, which was redesigned and rebuilt following the town’s bad floods in 2016.

Recognition came in light of Papillon’s efforts to design a garden, that not only is visually appealing, but also one that is weatherproof.  This was by building a rain garden and adding soil retention in vulnerable areas.  A unique larch-cladded artist’s studio was also built using stilts to allow rainwater to flow beneath it and drain away.  The garden blends into its surrounding environment easily with the use of local natural stone and native plants.


Rain Garden Solution

Angelique comments: “Technically, this garden took quite a bit of thought to design.  With an adjacent nature reserve and a slope running towards the property, we had to come up with a solution to drain and absorb rainwater.  Building a rain garden was the best solution, but adding a studio was always going to be tricky, as it could potentially block the natural flow of water and encourage flooding.  So, after researching a few different options, we came up with the idea of building the studio on stilts and we’re pleased to say that it works perfectly! We feel very proud to be recognised by The APL in these prestigious awards.”

The garden was designed and constructed by Aberdeen-based Papillon and is one of 32 projects the firm completed in 2017-2018.  Papillon is an award-winning garden design company that specialises in designing and constructing gardens throughout the North-east of Scotland.  This is the second year running that the firm has been awarded a prize at the APL Awards.



The APL Award were held on 15th March 2019 at The Brewery, London.  The awards, which are UK-wide, help celebrate and recognise outstanding landscaping work carried out by the association’s members.  To find out more about The APL visit

For more information on garden design, please contact us directly.

APL Bronze Award 2019 Papillon Designs & Landscaping


Rain garden in Ballater | Papillon Designs & Landscaping

Milltimber garden project offers homeowners a low maintenance, modern space to relax

Milltimber garden project - Papillon Designs & Landscaping

Milltimber garden project offers homeowners a low maintenance, modern space to relax


To create a contemporary garden space that will make for easier living with low maintenance, whilst providing a space that looks good and can be enjoyed.


- More parking
- Easy maintenance
- Nicer path leading to the back garden
- A larger patio area
- Furniture to make it easier to watch the children play
- A hot tub

What we did:

Papillon re-designed the front garden and removed the grass altogether, making it easier to maintain. Doing this made way for a driveway extension, which now has space to park up to five cars.

To the rear of the property, we added Millboard decking, a sunken hot tub and constructed a modern cream and grey porcelain paving area, which runs along the length of the property. A bench will be added to the front of the house to make it easy to watch the kids.

Dry-river beds were planted throughout the garden and offer a modern look. They are easy on the eye with sporadic planting adding a pop of colour. This, along with the extended driveway, makes the garden low maintenance for the busy homeowners.

Dry-river beds were added to the boundaries of the garden with evergreen planting.


> Hot tub
> New patio in porcelain paving
> Extended lock-block driveway
> Dry-river beds with planting
> Bench (to follow)
> Bollard lighting

The outcome:

A contemporary garden full of interest and ready for fun.

We have created a space that is manageable for our clients, with a design that makes for a relaxing atmosphere in a space where hobbies can be enjoyed, serenity can be found, and family memories created.

View more pictures of this garden in our portfolio page.

For more information on garden design by Papillon, please contact us directly.



Sporadic planting
Lock-block driveway
Porcelain patio in cream and grey. Papillon Designs & Landscaping.

What will 2019 hold for your garden? Is it time to write a Garden Plan?

How to create a garden plan in 2019

What will 2019 hold for your garden?  Is it time to write a Garden Plan?

It’s that time of year when people start thinking forward and putting in place New Years’ resolutions. When it comes to your garden, a garden plan can be a great tool to help you think ahead and given that its ‘tools down-time’ for most, January is a great time to do it.

As well as giving you something to look forward to, your garden will benefit from a bit of attention and it’s good to set goals and to keep control of your garden before it starts taking control of you.

Papillon has experts to help you with this process...making the process quicker.  By using our years of experience in design and construction, we can come up with ideas that are innovative.

What do you want from your garden?

So, let’s start thinking about what you want from your garden, not just in the short term, but also the long term.
To help you create a garden plan, we’ve pulled together ten steps to help:

1. Draw a plan

Start by drawing out a map or plan of your current garden to scale. Once you’ve gone through many of the points below, you can start to draw a plan of your new garden.

2. Make a list

Write a list of what you like and dislike about your garden, as well as what your aspirations are and your ‘big dreams’.
Some examples of problem areas:

  • A need for more plants/vegetables/colour
  • A desire for an outdoor room to enjoy the garden all seasons
  • It’s not private enough
  • There’s nowhere for the kids to play
  • There is a damp patch in the garden
  • No sitting space
  • The garden is too exposed to wind, so I never get out to enjoy it
  • I have a big slope in the garden (see our previous blog on what to do with a sloping garden).
  • My plants aren’t growing

3. Lifestyle - how can your garden work around you?

Being aware of your lifestyle will help you work out what is realistic and what will conflict with your plan.
Some areas to consider:

  • No time for gardening
  • Having young kids
  • A lifestyle of entertaining
  • No gardening knowledge or skills
  • A disability that impacts on the time spent in the garden
  • No time to learn about gardening

4. What are you going to do about it?

What actions can you set to help you combat the problem areas and build your dream garden? Write them down.

5. Consider the variables

Go through your action list and consider each of the factors below – do they have an impact?
Are your actions practical solutions?  Will they work in YOUR garden?

  • Wind
  • Sunlight
  • Heavy foot traffic areas
  • Shade
  • Maturity height and width of plants
  • Soil
  • Drainage
  • Views
  • Access to Water

Choosing plants, as an example, can be difficult. Not every plant will take to the soil it’s planted in, so more research may be required. For damp areas, you might want to use thirsty plants to help dry out the surrounding areas. Ease of care is another factor that could influence choice. Native plants are recommended, as these will take less care and are likely to give you the best results. However, be aware as these can take over and overcome other ornamental plants.

6. Resources – people, materials, budget

People: think about the resources you have and the people you know who could lend a hand. Many of the actions will be easy enough to undertake yourself, but for some, it might be best to seek professional help and advice. Speaking to an APL accredited garden designer, such as Papillon, can help.

Materials: what materials will you use and how will you source them? Carry out your research and consider different materials for the elements they’ll be exposed to.

Budget: how much do you have to spend on your garden? This could have an impact on the materials and plants that you use, so it’s good to understand this at the outset.

7. Upcycle & recycle

If you can upcycle old goods and bring new life to them, then that is great! This will help to protect the environment and reduce emissions. Think hard about what you need for each project and have a look at some of the second-hand sales websites out there to see if you can source second-hand goods. If throwing things out, be sure to check if they are recyclable and dispose of them ethically.

8. Prioritise your list

Refine your list by highlighting the tasks that are ‘do-able’ within the next 12 months, as well as the ones that are causing problems. Tackling the real problem areas first may bring you the happiness you need to plough on. If your big problem areas are too big, then look for some ‘quick-wins’ to keep you motivated or get someone else to help.

9. Hire the right people

Ensure that your construction company have the relevant qualifications and a warranty period. A good place to look is Association of Professional Landscapers (APL).

10. Get started

Once you’ve outlined your actions and considered your resources, materials, waste, etc. it is time to get started! Do one thing at a time and don’t forget to take before and after pictures to help you see and monitor your progress.

Good luck!

For more information on garden design, please contact Papillon directly. Good luck with your garden for 2019!

New town garden offers low maintenance with a contemporary look

New town garden offers low maintenance with a contemporary look

Papillon has recently completed a town garden design & construction project in Garthdee, Aberdeen.

The design was built to fit with the lifestyle of the owner, giving them a garden to relax in, without the burden of a high maintenance space.  The steeply sloped garden was transformed into a relaxing open space to include planting beds, retaining walls, stone paving and a patio.


Garden design for Garthdee project
Decking area in Garthdee project - Papillon Garden Designs
Stone globes in town garden- Papillon Designs & Landscaping

To add to the contemporary style, a stone globe water feature was positioned as a focal point next to the main patio.  To complete the look, black decorative screens were added to create interest and screen the main patio area. On sunny days, the sun can be enjoyed on the composite Millboard decking that has deliberately been positioned to maximise sunlight.


Garden features:

  • Retaining walls with contemporary bricks
  • Natural sandstone paving area & steps
  • Composite Millboard Decking area
  • Composite Decorative screens
  • Stone water feature with light built-in
  • Planting to soften the hard landscaping

Before pictures...

Before pic - Garthdee garden project, Aberdeen
Before Garthdee, Aberdeen

For more information on garden design and landscaping, please contact Papillon directly.

Biossun patio covers – as seen on TV

Look out for our latest Biossun promotional video that is currently being show on STV.  Don’t worry if you missed it, you can view it below!

The Biossun offers flexibility for outdoor living. It comes with an innovative patio cover design that includes adjustable louvres, electronic blinds, glass panels and LED lighting.

The future of outdoor living!

Available from Papillon. Visit our Biossun page for more information or contact us directly.

Papillon celebrates 10 strong years

Papillon celebrates 10 strong years

Papillon celebrates 10 strong years

This year, Papillon celebrates its 10th Year in business!  It’s been quite a journey with many, many highs and lows along the way.  Here, we look back at the Papillon story to reflect on the last 10 years…


From Drilling Engineer to Garden Designer

Papillon was set up by founding Director, Angelique Robb. Angelique’s interest in garden design started as a hobby, working around her day job. She worked as a Drilling Engineer in Louisiana and then Texas, before moving to Aberdeen in 1999, where she worked for various companies in the Oil & Gas industry.

In 2007, Angelique decided to take garden design more seriously when she embarked on a Diploma in Garden Design. The course confirmed garden design as her calling and in 2008, a month before her first child was born, Papillon Designs & Landscaping was born - the first garden transformation started two weeks prior to the birth of her first child. The firm has grown significantly over the years, currently employing eight members of staff. In this time, Papillon has designed over 520 gardens.


The ethos

Papillon’s ethos is ‘deep-rooted’ – we aim to encourage people to enjoy their gardens through clever design and architecture. “Design to fit with lifestyle” is a big part of the process, as well as educating homeowners on planting, to work with the garden surroundings and soils.

Angelique has gained great satisfaction from her garden design work. She comments: “I feel very grateful to be doing a job that I love and although I enjoyed the work I did in oil & gas, I never found it as rewarding as garden design. Seeing clients’ faces light up on completion of a project means everything to me. It’s also great to help people enjoy their gardens more and make better use of their outdoor space. There’s so much that goes into garden design; the process starts with careful analysis and design, which we try to fit with the environment and the lifestyle of the homeowners. We then realise the designs through the construction phase before planting and finalising the softer landscaping side ahead of completion. We’ve had so many thank you cards and email gratifications from clients - it is truly rewarding.”



Papillon keeps on top of current trends and innovation through various mediums.  Many of the gardens we’ve constructed have included novel features and many have used innovative materials to add different dimensions.  We’ve designed unique pieces of furniture and shields for gardens to combat wind and different ailments and we are proud to have introduced the North-east to many new concepts in garden design.

In 2016, Papillon became the sole Scottish distributor of the Biossun pergola – a French-built weatherproof patio-cover frame with adjustable slats to direct sunlight, electronic blinds and LED lighting.  The contemporary unit adds, not just style to any garden, but a sitting area to prolong outdoor living come autumn/winter.


Environmental stance

We love outdoor space and we love our environment.  Where possible, we add eco-friendly twists to our garden designs to help the planet.  We recycle and upcycle where we can and we try to help others to do the same by educating and advising on environmentally-friendly materials, processes and techniques.



We run a professional business and are proud to have fully qualified and experienced staff, as well as robust management systems in place.  We are members of the Federation of Small Businesses and are also the only firm in the North-east to accredited by the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL).

Accolades along the way

We’ve felt truly honoured to have won many awards along the way.  This year, Papillon was recognised by the APL, when it won two gold awards for garden designs in Aberdeen and Ellon, at its national awards ceremony in London. Earlier this month, Papillon was also successful in the North East Trades Awards, winning the Garden Design and Construction category.

Our eternal thanks….

We, quite frankly, wouldn’t be here without the backing from our clients, past and present, and our friends, family and supporters.  Thank you so much for all of your support…Here’s to the next 10 years!


Special offer to celebrate

As part of our celebrations, we are offering 10% OFF all Muztag outdoor fires.  This offer is valid until 30th November 2018.  For more information, please contact us directly.


Thank you from team Papillon!

Papillon's founder, Angelique Robb

Papillon wins Garden Design & Landscaping Prize at Trades Awards

Papillon wins Garden Design & Landscaping Prize at Trades Awards

Papillon is delighted to have scooped a top prize in Garden Design & Landscaping at this year’s Trades Awards.

The Trades Awards is an annual celebration of trades businesses in the North-east of Scotland. This year, after a rigorous application process, the finalists were gathered at the Ardoe House Hotel on Friday 8th June to learn their fate.

Garden Designer, Zuzana Habsudova (pictured centre), picked up the accolade on behalf of Papillon. She said: “We work really hard to come up with garden designs that work for their owners and fit with the environment around them. It’s what we do best and it’s great for the whole team to be recognised for all of our efforts in these awards.”

For more information on the Trades Awards, visit

Vera Efimova, Zuzana Habsudova and Angelique Robb of Papillon, pictured ahead of the awards ceremony.