The Garden With A View
The first thing you notice as you step into this garden is the stunning view across the countryside beyond it. This view is also visible from the dining room, and my design was intended to make the most of it.
This meant taking out an island bed in the centre of the lawn, out, and extending the lawn to the edge of the garden, where the level dropped to the field beyond.
The garden was blessed by a mature copper beech tree in one corner, which provided shade in an otherwise sunny garden. I placed one seating area outside the dining room, where double doors opened out onto it, and a secondary area under the tree’s canopy in the shade. These two areas relate well to the house, and to each other, sharing similar shapes and the same materials, so creating a unified design.
Hard landscaping materials used were traditional English stone and gravel paths, chosen to work well with the local Hornton stone house. I placed a lavender hedge around the terrace at the back of the house, to soften the edge of the paving and overcome a slight change in levels between the paving and the lawn (,which was higher on one side and lower on the other).
Along the back of the house, beside the terrace, I designed a border to reflect the symmetry of the old part of the house.
To the right of the house, there were existing fruit trees in the lawn, and around this I created a herb garden, a vegetable garden bordered by a mixed ornamental bed, and an area for the grandchildren to play. For this part of the garden I used flowing curves, to create a peaceful, contented and informal atmosphere.
All the planting was chosen for its subtle colouring, with nothing brash or jarring, as well as interesting and varied foliage shapes and different shades of green. Euphorbias were a great favourite with my clients, so these were incorporated, and I threaded the deep maroon colour of the existing copper beech tree, through the ornamental borders. The main borders were designed to be at their peak in summer, but with something of interest in all seasons.
My clients wanted to provide an interesting, stimulating environment for the grandchildren to play in when they visited, but something which was different from what they had at home or in the park. They also had a child-sized bench which they wanted incorporated into the design. To this end, I designed a ‘magic walkway’, leading up to the bench, with a stepping stone path, flanked by miniature plants and wooden mushrooms, a willow dragonfly, pieces of interestingly shaped driftwood and unusual containers such as an old pair of boots, upturned pots, a teapot and colander. The planting was to be at a child’s level, often using dwarf varieties of plants used elsewhere in the garden, and also designed to attract butterflies. Branching off the little seating area with the bench, was a log tunnel for the children to crawl through, opening out onto a ‘secret area’ surrounded by higher growing perennials. The aim of this was to give the children a feeling of being in their own little secret place, whilst not cutting them off from adults with dense shrubs. As children enjoy circuits so much, this area had a path leading from it, to the back of a little play house, with a sandpit at the front, which led them back to the beginning of the ‘magic walkway’. To the side of the playhouse, were tree stumps to sit on, and another change of atmosphere, with more jungley planting around a mud patch with a ‘shipwrecked’ boat in. The idea of this was to allow them to get dirty and make mud pies, as well as stimulating imaginative play around the theme of shipwrecks/spaceships, or whatever they wanted the boat to be.
The plants in the children’s area, (still under construction) were chosen to provide a range of textures, colours shape and sizes, to create stimulating and different play environments that change with the seasons.
I was also commissioned to design a low growing border along the front of the house which was to be reasonably smart and tidy looking throughout the seasons, but with variety and seasonal interest, which complemented the architecture of the house and related well to its setting. For this I used a variety of low growing shrubs, accompanied by some spring bulbs and sedums for autumn interest.
This garden was designed to give my clients lasting pleasure, not only for now, but for when they retire and have more time to garden. It is what they called “a traditional garden with a twist.”