Creating a Cumbrian country garden
When we took on this garden project, the client’s recent purchase of renovated farm buildings had created a new home in the heart of a rural landscape with great views. However, it also had the challenges of expanses of hardstanding and bare gravel, exposure to all weathers and no obvious approach.
“The surrounding plot had never been gardened or landscaped and the task was daunting. We did not know where to start, but Liz was very good at taking us through the process from our initial random thoughts to the final design.”
Shelter and a sense of arrival were key to the design and then paving, planting and finishing touches to create a garden that the clients could use and enjoy.
Shelter was created to the west with dense evergreen planting, including pines, hollies, cotoneaster, oleaster and laurels. The field boundaries were planted with a species-rich wild hedge mix that included rowans, crab apples and thorns. The clients are keen to encourage wildlife into the garden and their efforts have already been rewarded with an increased variety of birds. The development of an existing pond only adds to what they’ll see in future.
To create a sense of arrival, interlocking paved shapes give a staggered path to the front door. We used natural stone paving that flatters the reclaimed stonework in the building and stone on the site was re-used elsewhere wherever possible. Small trees have been planted to frame views, including a multi-stem Amelanchier lamarckii and Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'. These will take about five years to be really established but they’re already giving height and shade to the garden.
The naturalistic planting in the front garden has been repeated throughout using a selection of Pictorial Meadows perennial seed mixes. These include traditional country garden plants such as yarrow and scabious as well as more unusual species for this environment and soil such as great burnet and vipers’ bugloss.
“We love the formal beds of the courtyard, and the more relaxed beds of wildflower perennials that are becoming established too. We also appreciated Liz’s recommendations of local suppliers of stone and oak fencing that complete the garden beautifully.”
We discovered a low point in the gravel approach that was also very wet, known in drainage terms as a swale. It’s best to work with the site’s existing features so, in this case, we turned the area into an enlarged island bed, planted with moisture-loving trees and plants - a group of Alnus glutinosa ‘Laciniata’ underplanted with dogwoods, persicaria and luzula.
Raised beds were installed to the side of the house, enclosed with cleft oak fencing and gates from Jack at Mountain Oak Woodcraft. A greenhouse from The Pot Place and a chicken run completed a productive area around the rear of the house.
With all that in place, there was still scope for a few unique features. A bespoke water feature made from an old millstone has been raised so that it is visible from indoors and we’ve built simple benches from stone that was found on site. A fire pit circle surrounded by newly-planted birches was created using large boulders unearthed during the build.
“Liz and Phil spent a long time listening to us and discussing the various aspects of the design. This gave us confidence to go ahead with booking them to do the whole project for us. The finished garden looks wonderful, and every day we see something to enjoy!”
This renovation now has the country garden it deserves and something that will mature and complement it for many years to come.