Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Winter Countryside - The Lakes, Cumbria

My winter walking holiday in The Lake District revealed a stunning landscape as well as some ideas that can be used on a more domestic scale. 

Snow Day

I was lucky enough to get a day where the landscape was transformed into a magical winter wonderland. When the world is transformed into black and white a whole new perspective of form is revealed and colour takes a back seat. 

Seating and Sculpture
Sometimes it is better to think laterally about garden features; a bench doesn’t always need to be an off-the-shelf wooden bench. Working with the landscape and taking inspiration from surroundings can result in a far more interesting and interactive space.

Garden Buildings
You might not have room for a boat-house but this does show us that garden building such as sheds and utilitarian structures can actually add to the landscape and improve the space.

Colour and Texture
The middle of winter may be thought of as dreary combinations of browns but we can use this to our advantage when showing off bright greens or splashes of colour. A bright strong stem or shot of Lichen green can look stunning against a winter background.

Indoor Plants
Bringing plants inside the house, especially where you have a view through to your garden blends the border and brings the outside in. Not only this, but having some plants in the house will improve your air quality and generally make you feel better.

Inspiration from Nature
Man may try to dominate the landscape but whether you are in the countryside or the city you will see signs that inevitably nature will claim it back. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Mottisfont - Hampshire

On a gloriously sunny day that had the crisp onset of autumn in the air I visited an intriguing garden nestled on the River Test in the Hampshire countryside.
People have been gardening at this idyllic slice of Hampshire since the 13th Century but the layout we see today is more recognisably Georgian with its parkland and walled garden.

One of the most interesting and special parts of this garden is the unusually large walled garden. There is something rather grand and yet intimate about a walled garden. The walls themselves are filled with history and have stood steadfast and protective for hundreds of years while successive inhabitants have tended and reshaped the transient planting contained within them; if only these walls could talk what a tale they would tell.

Mottisfont may be a large country garden but there are still ideas and inspiration that can be adapted to any size garden. I particularly liked the timber poles lent against the old walls to provide informal climbing support for Roses and Clematis.

Trees play a major role in this garden and this was particularly prevalent on a sunny autumnal day. With the blowsey flowers beginning to fade and take a back seat the autumn colour of the turning leaves and the interesting bark of the specimen trees took their position as the star attraction.

Although not a feature that most of us have the benefit of, I had to mention the natural spring or 'font' that gives Mottisfont its name. I have never seen such crystal clear water in my life, the deep pool that feeds the River Test looked as if it may have been made from a thin sheet of perfect glass.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Penshurst Place and Gardens - Kent

Wow, what an amazing garden. If you enjoy gardens, grandeur and history then this is a must see. It is a living, breathing English country estate that has been in one family since 1552 and is currently owned by Philip Sidney, 2nd Viscount De L'Isle MBE, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Kent.

The house and landscape here is steeped in history, you feel as though you are walking round a living, breathing museum but without the crowds or stuffy atmosphere. There are people picnicking on the manicured lawns next to an Elizabethan parterre and others enjoying afternoon tea in the café overlooking a 14th Century tower.

The garden is particularly thrilling due to its use of garden rooms and surprise vistas. Walking through a relatively small 'garden room' containing a pond or some fabulous sculpture that takes your interest on a detailed level you then duck through an arch in a dark green yew hedge and are met with a massive walkway and views on a completely different scale.

This play with scale excites the mind as you move around the space, constantly being drawn between small detail and larger, grander views.

Although this garden is set at a huge scale it is so inspirational that we can take many of the design ideas and use them in our own projects. The  phrase 'garden room' may have been coined by modern designers but as we see here it has worked in practice for hundreds of years, breaking up even a medium sized garden can result in it being far more interactive and making it feel bigger.

One of the most inspirational areas in the garden is the 'Grey and White Garden'. This is a popular colour palette with my clients who want a cool and relaxing place to escape from the city life. Here it has been created with great skill and plantsmanship, mixing silver foliage with soft white flowers entices you to feel calm and relaxed.

Despite the garden's air of aristocracy there is humour and a human scale to the space. A garden devoted to Jacqueline Viscountess De L'Isle, late mother of the present Viscount De L'Isle by her loving family and quirky sculptures around the space bring a sense of family to the garden.