Meet The Designer Behind Some Of Australia’s Dreamiest Gardens

Having just clocked more than 100,000 social media followers, it’s fair to say Tim Pilgrim is one of Australia’s most loved garden designers.

The founder of Tim Pilgrim Gardens originally started as a gardener with formal training in horticulture and worked in famous gardens (like Paul Bangay’s Stonefields) before deciding he ‘wanted to create the whole picture’.

Now with his own studio based in central Victoria, Tim channels his hands-on approach and passion for plants into every project he touches. He says there’s no secret to his success, but we think his endearing love for nature shines through every aspect of his business — and it helps that he’s an all-round nice guy too!

Find out more about Tim’s business journey below.

What made you pursue a career in garden design?

I kind of fell into it really. I began my career as a gardener, and still am, it just looks a bit different now. I was drawn to design because I love the whole process from the initial consultation and conception, to the final plant in the ground.

How would you describe your aesthetic as a garden designer?

I design lots of different kinds of gardens. It all depends on the site, soil and context, but I always try to create places that are thoughtful and relaxed; free-flowing; naturalistic; and that showcase my plant-driven aesthetic. I love all of the traditional styles of gardens and seeing how I can re-imagine them in our Australian context. Cottage, Mediterranean and the ‘New Perennial’ styles have been some of the biggest inspirations in my work.

You’ve become quite well known and have built a strong following online — what do you think has been the secret to this?

I hope it’s because I have been able to let my work — through some beautiful photography by Martina Gemmola — speak for itself. I think that plant lovers and gardeners respond well to my gardens because they are plant-driven, and I think that naturalism here in Australia is having a bit of a moment.

I try to teach people about the beauty in a garden through the seasons, being honest about my successes and failures. I don’t know what the secret is, but I feel very lucky to be so well-received by a supportive social media gang. I try to respond to every single comment and have had such a positive experience. I’ve also met some amazing gardeners and designers out there, and it’s great to see others taking inspiration from my work, as I do from so many other great accounts out there.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the whole process, but I must admit I’m not a huge fan of admin and relish the focus design days! The plant selections and planting plans are probably mine and my colleague Josie’s favourite part of the job — it’s as close to gardening as you can get sitting in a studio. I like to install all of our plantings in our new gardens and still really enjoy taking such a hands-on approach.

Why did you choose Squarespace as your website building platform?

My colleague Josie had a great experience using Squarespace in the past and recommended it. The clean and simple templates look great and are clear and logical to navigate. Josie is the mastermind behind our website and together we come up with a design that’s super sharp and lets the images speak.

How has having a Squarespace website helped your business?

We use our website as a portfolio of our work first and foremost, but the contact page has been a game changer. We funnel all of our social media enquiries through our contacts page with a few simple questions about what service they are after, their project details that gets sent directly to our email. Squarespace is super mobile-friendly, which is important as it’s the device most people look at first when thinking about bringing in a garden designer.

What advice would you give to someone else who might be keen to pursue a career in garden design? 

What I have found really valuable to my career is a strong horticultural background. I couldn’t do what I do without it. If you don’t choose to study design, inhale all of the literature you can on the topic, follow all the great designers on socials, and don’t be scared to reach out to people for advice. I know I am always happy to hear from budding designers and it’s how I’ve learnt everything I have about garden design.

Also, and most importantly, see as many gardens as you can! It’s easy to get caught up in your own world in your studio or online, but seeing what other people are doing in the flesh will allow you to see it on a whole other level.

Squarespace provides entrepreneurs and small business owners with the tools they need to bring their creative ideas to life, online. Using their all-in-one platform, you can claim a domain, build a website, sell online, and market your brand.

Use code ‘thedesignfiles’ for 10% off an annual subscription — learn more here.

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