Michael BalstonSenior Director – MA, Dip Arch, Dip LA, RIBA, CMLI
Michael Balston is the Senior Director of Balston Agius, and founded the original Practice of Balston & Company in 1983.
Michael Balston is the Senior Director of Balston Agius, and founded the original Practice of Balston & Company in 1983. He studied architecture at Cambridge University, qualifying as an architect in the early 1970s. He then further qualified as a landscape architect and worked on several public buildings projects in the UK and Saudi Arabia. From 1978, he focused on private gardens and since moving to Wiltshire in 1983, he has run his own practice, operating from converted farm buildings within a large garden that he created from scratch.
Michael’s gardens, created at his own home in Wiltshire, were his working laboratory and were widely featured in the gardening press. His move to a new property in 2011 gave him an exciting opportunity to work on a new garden, further extending his planting palette.
Michael is largely responsible for the conceptual design of projects and the organisation of the design office.
Michael completed a 10 year term as a member of the Council of the RHS, and during this time he was Chairman of the Show Gardens Panel, a member of the Shows Committee and the Gardens Committee. For the period he was on Council, he was much involved in Shows development and the Master Planning of the Society’s four gardens. Following completion of this tenure, he was appointed a Vice President of the RHS. Also for many years Michael served on the Europa Nostra Awards Panel and was also a member of the Landscape Working Group.
Besides writing for magazines, Michael has written the influential book ‘The Well Furnished Garden’, followed by ‘Ten Landscapes’ – edited by James Grayson Trulove, which features examples of his design work. Michael also lectures on Garden Design both in the UK and internationally.
Marie-Louise AgiusDirector – MA, Dip Garden Design, MSGD
Marie-Louise Agius is a Director of Balston Agius and also an associate member of the Society of Garden Designers.
Marie-Louise is an award winning Designer who, after completing a Masters at Edinburgh University, went on to train in Landscape Design at KLC School of Design in London.
After graduating from KLC she worked at Clifton Nurseries in London as a Senior Contracts Manager in the Landscape Department. Here she gained invaluable experience in the design, build and contractual side of the landscape industry. Implementation is a critical part of delivering a project for a Client and something that Balston Agius have extensive knowledge and expertise in.
Marie-Louise has now been a member of the team at Balston Agius for over 15 years and is based in London and the New Forest. She is responsible for overall project management including detailed design, specifications, working drawings, supervision of works on site, planting schemes and plant acquisition. Her portfolio includes a wide variety of projects from numerous private gardens and estates around the UK as well as a wide variety of urban gardens. She jointly designed and project managed the East Village Show Garden for the centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show – winning a much coveted Gold Medal. She has also recently worked on delivering the gardens at the new Maggie’s Centre in Leeds alongside Heatherwick Studio and the BALI award winning Centenary Garden at Exbury Gardens.
Marie-Louise is a Director of Exbury Gardens, a world renowned woodland garden of over 200 acres, specialising in rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees and shrubs. She actively participates in regular board meetings whereupon the overall strategy for both the commercial and horticultural direction of the gardens is determined. Click here to see more on the inspirational Exbury Gardens
Marie-Louise is also an active RHS judge and sits on various selection panels for Show Gardens.
Nikki Balck-FooteDirector & Practice Manager
Nikki joined the company during the summer of 2017 in the role of Practice Manager. After a highly successful 18 months she was invited to become a Company Director in January 2019.
She is responsible for the smooth running of the Practice as well as PR and marketing related matters.
She has extensive experience in supporting senior management and is an adaptable proactive team member, unfazed by any curve-ball that is often lobbed in her direction! Over the years she has worked for Enigma Productions, Smallbone of Devizes, Prime Development and Knight Frank. Nikki is professional when it comes to managing confidential information and has the responsibility for the financial aspect of the business, applying clear analytical thinking.
Nikki is joined in the office by Lotty & Florrie, her working cocker spaniels.
Freddie StricklandDesigner - Dip Fine Art, BA (Hons), HND Garden Design
Freddie is a Designer at Balston Agius.
Freddie joined the team in 2021.
He is an award winning designer, winning the converted RHS ‘Young Designer Of the Year’ competition for his garden at Tatton Park flower show, 2021. The garden also won an RHS Gold medal, and ‘Best Construction in show’ at the same event.
In 2020, Freddie was recognised in Pro Landscaper’s ’30 Under 30’ competition; as a Young Designer who showed exceptional potential within the landscape industry.
After an education in the arts at Falmouth University, he turned his focus to landscape design, training at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Since then, he has undertaken his own projects, as well as working for another notable landscape design practice, where he has gained experience in gardens and landscapes of different scales and demands, both home and abroad.
With a particular interest in specialist planting, horticulture and sustainability, Freddie’s passion is now also his career.
Sylwia KolconLandscape Architect – BA, MA
Sylwia is a Landscape Architect at Balston Agius.
Sylwia joined the team in 2016. She completed her Masters in Landscape Architecture at the University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland. She worked within two Landscape design practices in Poland during her university years, where she gained invaluable experience before moving to the UK. She works closely with the directors assisting with landscape design whilst also providing specialist knowledge to the studio team.
Sylwia brings a wealth of skills in AutocCAD, Photoshop, SketchUp and Keyscape.
Ben GraySenior Technician
Ben is a Senior Technician at Balston Agius.
Ben joined the team in early 2019.
Having worked in AutoCAD and Rhino3D for over 10 years in the measured survey industry he brings a varied experience in both CAD drawing and 3D modelling to Balston Agius. His experience also extends to photographic survey techniques including extensive knowledge of Photoshop and Agisoft PhotoScan/Metashape.
He also brings his own unique set of IT based skills to Balston Agius including a variety of programming languages, fault finding and problem solving, automation and efficiency improvements.
Bethany GrayLandscape Technician – BSc (Hons)
Beth is a Landscape Technician for Balston Agius.
Beth joined the team in early 2018. She previously studied renewable energy and gained a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Exeter. Following this she worked for an energy company and then in architectural surveying before turning her skills to landscape design. With many years’ experience of various CAD and design programmes, Beth assists the landscape team with the drawing and design work.
Beth is highly competent in many software packages including AutoCAD (with Keyscape), Rhino3D (with Arena4D), Draft Sight, SketchUp, InDesign, Photoshop and others.
Sharon BowditchOffice Administrator & PA to Michael Balston
Sharon Bowditch is the Office Administrator at Balston Agius and PA to Michael Balston.
Sharon has been with the Balston Agius team for over 7 years. She has a strong background in administration and has worked in Human Resources, as well as a number of varied roles during her 16 years of working within the Ministry of Defence. Sharon also looks after this company website, and since joining the team has expanded her skills repertoire to include Adobe InDesign and Photoshop.