We were recently instructed to design the external space and ‘garden’ for a new design-led woodland barn.
The client’s brief was creativity with a touch of the ethereal.
The design process first thought about how to generate ideas that extended the viewer’s experience outside of the plot. We refer to this as the macro part of the design. We settled on the idea of a wall picking up on the local Cotswold vernacular which was intended to indicate a relic from a previous use of the land. The gentle curve indicating a full circle and a wider context. The micro view concentrates on design details; the interface between materials, the arrangement of the elements and the texture/colour combinations.
After a successful concept design presentation, we were instructed to develop the design and install the garden. There were only, trees, bad topsoil and stinging nettles before we started. The build took 6 months and touched every square meter of the plot. The first job was to generate some privacy so we planted 400no 225-250cm Taxus baccata imported directly from our preferred growers in Holland. Then a groundworks and drainage package to help the water move through and away from the critical areas on this very wet site before we got on with the build elements of the installation.
Although hard to choose a favourite part, the entrance courtyard is a highlight. Guy, our Managing Director went to Yorkshire to select the boulders from the same quarry the sawn York stone was coming from. It was absolutely critical to the project that the boulders were the correct measurements. There is a rumour and pretty good evidence that he cycled a 110mile loop of the Yorkshire Dales afterwards.
The original design intent was to plant a bonsai-style pine in the entrance courtyard however, the benefit of designing and building garden projects is that we get generate such a good understanding of a site through digging the ground and understanding the light movement we are able to reflect on this and decided that tree ferns would look better. While we can’t compare this with the Pine, we made the change after discussion with the clients and think we got it right. The pictures speak for themselves.
One of the planning conditions of the site was that outside of this courtyard and a small area against the house in the back garden, only native plants could be planted. So we went about selecting the most garden worthy natives and developed a series of woodland matrix’s plantings. Plants worth highlighting which are native and in common garden use are Deschampsia cespitosa, Stachys officinalis, Cornus sanguinea, Dryopteris sp., Ajuga reptans et al. Whilst doing our research we discovered some unknown to us before such as Carex divulsa which are not yet common garden plants but should be.
Noting the high water levels during the site evaluation part of the design we needed to ensure that hard landscape surfaces were suitably selected and designed. Examples – A drystone wall rather than mortar to allow water to pass through. A deck with composite boards to allow rising and falling water levels. A path made from a permeable resin bound surfacing with tree root protection.
We are very proud of what we have achieved, believe we have met and exceeded the brief. We know our clients, who value intelligent design and discretion are thrilled. We now enjoy regularly maintaining the garden and guiding the planting to be the best it can be.
If you would like to discuss how we can design a garden to meet your brief and location, whether a woodland garden, a hillside Cotswold garden, a courtyard garden or a town garden. Please make contact and ask how we can help.