This is the substantial rear garden to an early 19th century, Grade II listed house on a wide plot in the quiet, riverside location of Shoreham, Kent. A new orangery had recently been built at the back of the main house, together with a natural stone terrace, that was yet to be competed.
This was a beautifully established garden, but it lacked interest, both in colour and form, and the owners wanted to inject some much needed life in order to bring the space up to the same high standard as the stunningly renovated interiors of the property.
In particular, the view from the new orangery was not very inspiring and also the recent building works meant that the existing layout was ‘off centre’ and felt unbalanced.
Our clients wanted to create an integrated design, which included a new croquet lawn together with a focal point beyond it, in order to provide an interesting view from the orangery that complemented the age and style of the house.
The original box hedging was removed, and the Cherry tree to the rear was removed to achieve balance in the design.
The new paved terrace was completed, and there was some substantial ground levelling to facilitate the croquet lawn and also to create a level ‘step-off’ from the paving to the lawn.We built a new retaining wall in front of the family room,and this was clad in some of the reclaimed bricks that were already on site.
The excess soil that was removed from this area was used to create a flat area next to the pool, large enough to take a small marquee, as originally there was a step down on one side onto the sloping lawn.
From that area there is a retaining wall with sets of steps at different points to give access to the croquet lawn.
We kept the two small plums, although they were moved and many of the large, overgrown shrubs were removed and replaced with native types.
As to the overall planting scheme, most of the trees were retained although some were removed in order to implement the new design. We created a colourful, English country garden-style scheme, to include many old and traditional favourites. The planting is arranged in informal mixed borders along the boundary walls, with some depth to them, in order to allow for a pleasing tiered effect, with larger shrubs and perennials to the back and graduating down to smaller, spreading planting at the front.
There is a narrow planting bed in front of the tennis court, to provide a little division and partial screening.
We revitalised the planting under the trees to the northern side of the house, particularly as this is often the way that visitors access the garden in the summer months and we moved the two large Cytisus in the front garden and added some more Lavender and Hydrangeas to blend in with the existing scheme.
In general, the owners were not particular about the use of colour although it should be a harmonious scheme, possibly with changing themes through the seasons. Perfume was also an important sensory consideration, particularly near to the seating areas and entrance ways.
There were certain points in the garden where careful consideration was given to the planting in order to provide some screening and privacy from neighbouring buildings – particularly to the northern edge and the western boundary at the side of the house.
This latter area in particular required careful consideration as we also needed to conceal the large oil tank and storage area, without obscuring the windows on that side. We created herb garden on this side of the house, near to the side entrance that leads to the kitchen.
There are also areas on the house walls where planting is designed to conceal vents, etc.
With young children in mind, all planting is child-friendly and non-toxic.
Lighting also adds an exciting dimension to the garden, making it not only usable on summer evenings, but also visually accessible in the winter months. With inset lighting to the paving and retaining walls and uplighting to trees, focal points and structural planting, the effects can be dramatic. However, with the use of different circuits, a more subtle feel can be achieved, according to the mood and occasion.
Take a look at the photos from this garden design Shoreham!