DREAM GAR­DEN

Blend­ing clean lines and con­tem­po­rary plant­ing with a splen­did nat­u­ral back­drop, this mod­ern coun­try gar­den en­joys the best of both worlds

Homes & Gardens - - CONTENTS -

A splen­did nat­u­ral back­drop plays host to con­tem­po­rary plant­ing.

CAN YOU GIVE US SOME BACK­GROUND DE­TAILS?

A young cou­ple with two chil­dren own this large 23-acre gar­den in the Cotswolds and they asked me to cre­ate a se­ries of out­door spa­ces that morph from for­mal­ity close to the house to wilder ar­eas where the gar­den meets the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. They also wanted the de­sign to res­onate with the ar­chi­tec­ture of their pe­riod home and with the Cotswold land­scape, while also feel­ing play­ful and fun.

WHAT IN­SPIRED YOUR DE­SIGN SO­LU­TION?

The lay­out is a re­sponse to the land­scape and views, but we also wanted to im­pose a sense of or­der and co­he­sion on the ex­ist­ing frag­mented de­sign. To open up the views, which were ob­scured by over­grown shrubs and trees, we cleared most of the area by the house. The rill is de­signed to carry the eye from the house to the hills and woods beyond and, when look­ing back at it from the bottom of the slope, to draw your vi­sion to an or­angery that looks out over the gar­den. To the left of the rill is a din­ing area shaded by a tim­ber per­gola, while a meadow and large lawn on ei­ther side of this softly bleed the gar­den into the coun­try­side.

TELL US ABOUT THE PLANT­ING.

The box balls that punc­tu­ate the space seen here add a play­ful note, while the other plants and trees are also echoed through­out the gar­den, help­ing to sub­tly link the dif­fer­ent ar­eas. The ex­ist­ing ma­ture wal­nut tree gives the gar­den height and cre­ates dra­matic re­flec­tions in the wa­ter, and we put in yew hedges on ei­ther side of this sec­tion, to en­close and shield it from the wind. Pleached plane trees of­fer shade and draw the eye to the wa­ter fea­ture, and the ter­race is soft­ened with beds of herba­ceous peren­ni­als and bulbs, in­clud­ing al­li­ums, as­tran­tias, salvias, or­na­men­tal grasses and Al­chemilla mol­lis (lady’s man­tle), which pro­vide colour, struc­ture and in­ter­est all year round.

WHAT FEA­TURES CRE­ATE A BAL­ANCED PLANT­ING DE­SIGN?

Plant­ing schemes tend to look more co­he­sive if you use a lim­ited pal­ette of dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties and re­peat them in groups through­out. Choose a se­lec­tion that suits your site and soil, and which will flower at dif­fer­ent times; try to com­bine con­trast­ing shapes, match­ing flow­ers with round heads, such as al­li­ums, with spiky plants like salvias, for in­stance. Colour also af­fects our sense of per­spec­tive; cool hues, such as blues and greens, make the land­scape seem re­ces­sive, while hot tones, in­clud­ing reds and or­anges, tend to stand out.

HOW HAVE YOU IN­TE­GRATED CON­TAIN­ERS INTO YOUR SCHEME?

The large con­tain­ers work rather like hedg­ing, act­ing like book­ends on ei­ther side of the tim­ber per­gola (above left). Their rough clay tex­ture res­onates with the Cotswold stone house and they look fan­tas­tic when lit at night. The pots are planted with yew domes that com­ple­ment the box balls and are easy to main­tain with an ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem.

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR DE­SIGN­ING RILLS?

This fea­ture fol­lows the con­tours of the gar­den and sub­tly cas­cades down the slope from the ter­race. The wa­ter is only around 60cm deep, but the black-painted lin­ing makes it look deeper and more re­flec­tive. Rills look beau­ti­fully so­phis­ti­cated, but are in fact sur­pris­ingly easy to in­stall and main­tain. A pump and a fil­ter en­sure that the wa­ter remains crys­tal clear, although you may have to re­move leaves and other de­bris from time to time.

The box balls add a play­ful note, while other plants and trees are echoed through­out the gar­den to sub­tly link the dif­fer­ent ar­eas.”

DE­SIGNER PRO­FILE Fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in the army, Mar­cus Bar­nett switched pro­fes­sions to pur­sue his love of land­scape de­sign and started his own prac­tice in 2004. He is now recog­nised as one of Bri­tain’s lead­ing land­scape de­sign­ers and has won three Gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

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