A South Lakeland transformation
When the potential is obvious from the outset, a garden project can be an absolute joy. This South Lakeland farmhouse had been sympathetically renovated and had stunning views across open countryside but the “front garden” was just grass and flags, tarmac and concrete. There were also drainage issues as the slope funnelled water towards the front door!
There was no need for parking or vehicle access to the front of the house as there was an area of hardstanding on a higher level so this was all about creating a garden. We wanted to frame the view and complement the traditional property, reflecting some of its heritage and subdued grandeur.
We talked to the clients about favourite styles and plants – hydrangeas were essential and the owners particularly love the Lakes Horticultural Society gardens at Holehird, near Windermere. They were also keen to create shelter and intrigue as visitors approached the house or explored the garden so we included meandering paths, generous planted beds and a couple of secret corners in the design.
The first thing to remedy was the drainage. We replaced the tarmac drive with a gravel path that had drainage beneath the surface, directing any running water way from the house. The new path was also stepped with risers that will keep the gravel in place for years to come.
Larger pieces of limestone from the quarry at Holme have provided retaining walls and informal steps while new lawns also include Magnolia stellata and Morus nigra for visual interest. The owners will be adding bulbs in key areas, which will look wonderful in the spring.
But the pièce de résistance is the new front garden.
The formal layout with symmetry and structure gives the element of grandeur that the house deserved. Natural stone paving flatters the warm hues of the local stone and small trees, including multi-stem Malus Golden Hornet and Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’, give height and frame the view. A central paved feature gives a focus and each shaped bed is edged with lavender, punctuated with Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ for evergreen structure. The field wall was built by Sam Robinson in local stone, and it already looks like part of the landscape.
The naturalistic planting in front of the wall is not so much formal design, more Cumbrian country profusion. The planting scheme for these beds, which includes comfrey, geums and lungworts, is being repeated in the upper garden along with a mixture of shrubs and seasonal perennials. A lot of the work in the upper garden is being done by the clients who have a rejuvenated enthusiasm for their garden.
In time, this area at the higher level will be hidden from view from the house but will welcome visitors approaching the property.
All in all, the contrasts of formal with informal, structured with cottage, open vistas with shaded woods, have created a stunning garden that the clients love and will enjoy from all directions and whatever the season.