This the large back garden to a substantial and attractive, red brick, Grade II listed property in Pembury, picturesquely situated overlooking the village green.
This re-design was partially prompted by the fact that the owners were having an orangery added to the back of the house, but also this is a very handsome property with high quality internal finishes and they wanted the gardens to reflect that same style and standard. However, it is also a family home and the new garden had to be practical and fun to use.
There was a large, red brick terrace at the side of the house, in the ‘L’ between the drawing room and the kitchen, laid in a mix of basket-weave and herringbone patterns some of which would disappear once the new orangery was built. Due to that fact, our clients wanted a complete re-design of this space. They favoured natural stone as a surface as it suited the age of the property and we talked about using sandstone in warm, buff-coloured tones.
The garden itself was largely laid to lawn with various mature trees and some young fruit trees, as well as some established shrubs and a large Wisteria on the back of the house which was to be kept.
On the new terrace we laid natural sandstone in a random pattern, and we maintained a similar depth to it, but extended it out in front of the garage to allow access to and from the orangery on that side. We introduced some curves to the edges of the terrace to counterbalance the rather angular footprint of the house and kept a small retaining wall on the edge of the terrace in red brick to match the house. We also left enough room to accommodate some new stone planters.
On the other side of the small retaining walls we added some low maintenance planting beds to provide some colour near to the house. The Wisteria on the back of the house was pruned and we planted some complementary climbers to give colour at other times of year.
The tiled path and timber canopy at the back of the house was not changed, but we added Box spirals at the front to frame the view from the drawing room window.
We kept most of the original lawn, but for interest and to reduce maintenance we gave over an area to the northern side as a wildflower meadow, incorporating the existing young fruit trees. In the corner of this area we added seating to create a focal point.
The meadow turf continues down into the lower area at the bottom of the garden where a large urn placed centrally creates another point of interest when viewed from the house.
To either side of the steps down to the lower meadow, we planted two knot gardens with Box edging and filled them with colourful flowers. The formality of this style of garden makes a pleasing contrast with the meadow beyond and suits the age and style of the house. Placing a bench at each end creates a reason for people to go down there, thus making use of all your space. We used the bricks reclaimed from the original terrace to create the paths and steps and added two new urns to replace the ones at the top of the steps.
The venerable old Sweet Chestnut tree in the middle of the garden is a natural focal point, but it did need some support for a couple of its weightier boughs in case they should break. A stone seat also provides a shady place to sit on hot summer’s days.
The play area stayed where it was but the trampoline was sunk into the ground so that it is not quite so prominent in the garden. We also defined the area by laying a natural bark play surface around it in a curvaceous design. Edging the lawn, around the play area and around planting beds with bricks helps keep edges neat and tidy and saves on the time-consuming task of having to strim round the edges.
Lighting adds an exciting dimension to the garden, making it not only useable on summer evenings, but also visually accessible in the winter months. With lighting to the paved areas, retaining walls and steps, and up-lighting to the trees, structural planting and focal points, 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.
The planting scheme overall is fairly low-maintenance, but should provide year-round interest and colour. Favourite plants include Lilacs, Acers and Lavender and we included lots of spring bulbs. As to colour, the owners preferred purples, mauves and whites, but liked the contrast of bold oranges and yellows to make for an exciting scheme. We included some herb planting near to the house, with some fan-trained fruit trees along the existing wall.
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