Transformed space

Paul’s garden in Oldham was a relatively big project, both in terms of the area of the garden and in terms of the design brief. At it’s longest point on the boundary the garden measured over 20 metres x 15 metres, but, as with many corner plots, the area was an unusual shape, tapering into the garage to the side of the house creating a diagonal boundary. Whilst the garden really was a blank canvas of hardcore base and existing green boundary panels, it had a backdrop of mature woodland which was an immediate attribute.

Paul wanted the garden to be an extension of his (very stylish!) house; modern but with some classical elements. The brief therefore was to provide a modern/classical design with a sense of openess and space and with some alternative seating areas for different uses. He already had a lovely scultpture that he wanted to incorporate and was open to having a water feature of some kind in the garden.

 I wanted Paul to be able to experience the garden from a number of perspectives and to create areas with some sense of enclosure without taking away from the overall sense of space. The offset, diagnonal boundary was the first thing to consider with the design. The key to dealing with unusual shaped gardens in design, is not to follow or accentuate the boundary whilst utilising the space fully. Using strong, geometric shapes is a classic way to bring a sense of modern formality to a space – creating, if you like, a garden within the garden. In this garden, the extension of the water bowl, engineering brick plinth and cobble rill into the longest area of the garden provides not only a focal point but a separate, more contemplative area for Paul to sit. In the main body of the garden the large lawn is bi-sected by a smooth sandstone patio and sculpture which is surrounded by agapanthus. Gravel has been used as a softer counterpart to the sandstone – as a material it works very well in classic and contemporary spaces.

 In the images here, the planting is very young but in a few years the hornbeam hedging will obscure and soften the boundaries, while the slatted wooden panels set back from the hedging provide a structural backdrop to the multi-stemmed Amelanchier. Three betula utilis jaquemontii ‘Trinity College’ are positioned to the rear of the sculpture in the furthest bed to echo the woodland beyond and a mixture of shrubs and perennials will come into their own over the next few years.

 This isn’t a ‘no-maintenance’ garden. Any garden with a lawn (and especially in a contemporary, ‘crisp’ space) will need regular maintenance and hedging requires specialist pruning to keep it looking pristine. To give you an indication of expenditure, this garden cost over £15,000 (without sculpture and furniture).

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