“We spend more time out here than we ever did before. Every time we come out there’s a different plant that’s come out or flower. It’s just wonderful, absolutely lovely.”
The clients work from home and wanted a beautiful English garden, full of flowers, that they could take a break in at different times of the day and enjoy from their conservatory when the weather is cooler.
The garden is divided into two with a shaded area to the very rear and a much sunnier aspect closer to the house. Opportunities for using the brighter end of the garden for entertaining were limited by an existing wall immediately outside the back door, which reduced the space available for adequate seating. The garden also had an extremely dark corner which was completely unusable.
The clients like an informal style and loved the idea of curved lines and relaxed planting that would work well in the mix of shaded and sunny areas. They also enjoy something a little bit out of the ordinary and had quirky existing features including a designer water butt and a flagpole. They love colour and wanted a vibrant planting scheme that included reds, purples, pinks and whites. Many of their existing plants had been given to them by their parents and naturally held special memories so they were keen that these were incorporated into the new planting plan.
Listening to the birdsong is one of the ways the clients relax, and they were keen to make the garden friendly to all wildlife, including the ground dwelling leaf cutter bees already in residence and buzzing around. As well as the rear garden, the design brief included the development of a new front garden to include a hard brick paved area providing expanded parking space for two cars, and a path that would lead from the front to the rear.
Our garden designer, Jane, is influenced by children’s stories and loves the idea of a magical garden that comes to life. Her design for this garden is curvilinear, with sinuous pathways creating a mini woodland walk reminiscent of the yellow brick road through the woods in The Wizard of Oz – an idea the clients loved. In order to create cohesion throughout the outdoor areas, this theme has been carried through into the front garden with a curved path detail leading to the front door.
In keeping with the clients’ desire to relax and enjoy their garden as much as possible through the day, a circular patio area was incorporated into the scheme. The spacious patio is designed to seat up to 10 people for dining around a large table and to be of sufficient size to entertain many others for drinks when the weather is fine. In order to harmonise with the materials used for the pathways, the patio would be built with sandstone and edged with clay pavers.
For the shaded bottom corner of the garden, where an old pond had previously been, Jane conceived the idea of an enchanted woodland area to contrast with and complement the sunlit social space.
The completed garden
Sandstone has been used throughout the garden for the hard landscaping elements with the same block pavers used to construct the pathways and to encircle the patio areas. These create the distinctive ‘yellow brick road’ curving paths which draw the eye along and through the planting.
A beguiling narrow path leads to an arbour seat in a corner of the garden that was previously dark and unused. Here the clients can now sit in a cool woodland glade and contemplate the full beauty and splendour of their garden at any time of the day. The inclusion of a hanging light in the arbour seat has also extended its use, making it a lovely and peaceful place to sit as the light fades in the evenings. Climbers trained against the fences soften the boundaries, adding height to the planting and giving a feeling of greater space.
Jane is an advocate of gardens designed to promote well-being. The redevelopment of this garden draws its owners outside to stroll along its meandering paths or to find a welcoming place to sit and relax whatever the time of day. The clients love to entertain all ages and the new garden perfectly accommodates everything from an energetic game of swing ball and children running along the little pathways, to al fresco drinking and dining for those who prefer something more sedate.
To encourage wildlife into the garden, appropriate habitats for the existing ground dwelling (leaf-cutter) bees’ have been included, along with holes in the fences for hedgehogs to pass through, a bird bath and feeders, and planting which attracts pollinators and provides cover for birds.
Plants evoke powerful memories of happy times and the clients had a number that they were keen to retain in their redesigned garden. Favourites such as Hydrangea, Forsythia and Buxus balls were relocated into more suitable positions within the garden. while Fuchsia, Lilac, Holly, and Pieris shrubs, along with Cherry and Apple trees also found a home.
The planting scheme delivers colour and interest in the garden all year round. A wide range of Spring flowering bulbs, evergreens, and perennials which flower from Spring, through the Summer and into early Autumn deliver a succession of captivating displays. This is further complemented by blossom, scent, and autumn colour and, with Winter structure provided by the Hydrangea flower heads, there’s always something for the clients to enjoy in their garden regardless of the season.
As a final touch, the long wall of the garage is enhanced by three circular beds edged with sandstone and filled with Rosemary, Clematis and, during the Summer months, Tomato plants which are illuminated by spotlights at night.
Final thought from the client
“We’re spending a lot of money and if we’d done it ourselves we would have spent a lot more and not got what we’ve got here. I think she’s [Jane] just wonderful.”
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