Project: Contemporary country
Andrea Newill MSGD created this rural garden that melds old with new
My clients had added a contemporary extension to their traditional 1920s house, with lots of glass and a grey aluminium frame. They were very busy working full time, so they wanted a haven to come back to and places to entertain guests; and a design that worked with the modern extension and the original house.
The property is set within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty bordering National Trust meadows and ancient woodland. I designed the garden to fit comfortably into this setting and to take advantage of the stunning views.
One of the challenges of this project was the black slate terrace that had already been installed next to the extension and was staying – it was very bland and functional. To make it more interesting, we broke up the space with a grey steel bowl water feature in a rendered raised bed, positioned to be seen from the house, and added bowl planters. I also added oversize aluminium planters spray-painted grey, to complement the colour of the window frames of the house. These were positioned close to the kitchen and filled with herbs.
My clients had already commissioned a slate standing stone from a recent visit to Chelsea. This was inscribed with a favourite Scottish poem and needed a prime position in the garden. It was put alongside a new evening seating area at the back of the house where it could be viewed from the entrance hall. It was framed with a bespoke oak pergola planted with climbing roses and clematis. Stepping stones through the pergola lead to a sweeping lawn.
An urn nestling into woodland planting offered a focal point, while a bench beyond was positioned to look out across the meadows. An area of woodland edge planting beneath the canopy of oak trees provides year-round interest with shade-tolerant planting including Cornus, Geranium phaeum and G. macrorrhizum, Thalictrum delavayi, Aquilegia and Aster divaricatus.
The woodland planting flows into sunnier planting, which echo the meadows beyond. I put in a matrix of low-growing plants such as geraniums, Heuchera villosa, Deschampsia and Aster, with taller grasses and other perennials punching up through it, such as Veronicastrum, Lythrum and Molinia, along with umbels of Cenolophium denudatum and spheres of the native Succisa pratensis. My plant choices took into account the soil, which was fairly heavy clay with quite a high water table, meaning it was wet in winter and dries out in summer.
The build and planting took place over six months. This summer I started phase two of the project – we are installing a ‘glasshouse’ for tropical plants collected on the client’s travels, a bespoke garden store, a paddlestone raised bed and extensive naturalistic planting.