A sense of place

Subtle editing to re-connect a garden to its setting

The dream

This family home in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, sits in gently rolling countryside on the edge of the Chilterns. A lot of planting and landscaping of its mature three-acre garden had been undertaken rather unsympathetically by previous owners. After careful consideration over a period of 10 years living there, the owners decided on a complete garden transformation.  This began with the conversion of an unused swimming pool into a wildlife pond.

Our insight

The key design opportunity that we noticed was to connect the garden with the beautiful surrounding countryside and the house itself and bring them all together. Our design concept was to release the garden from its enclosed compartments and improve the flow between different areas. By linking together home, garden and wider setting and keeping as much of the structural planting as possible, we aimed to create a ‘sense of place’. We felt that subtle additions and changes with a light touch were needed – in other words, evolution not revolution.

The transformation

Views and vistas have been opened up, new paths made to link areas and create a route around the garden, and new planting added for impact and interest throughout the seasons.  Simple changes like reducing the height of a boundary hedge from nearly 8 feet to under five made a huge difference by opening up views over the fields beyond.  A handcrafted willow arch in a hedge has replaced a conifer tree and links the garden to the adjacent woodland area.
The old swimming pool is now a contemporary wildlife pond. ‘Floating’ stepping stones run across it.  Along the pond edges, shallow planting beds have created easy access to and from the water for wildlife. At the far end, naturalistic planting including rudbeckia, fluffy pennisetum and Verbena bonariensis adds summer’s-end colour before letting the garden’s structural evergreens take over for winter.

The terrace area surrounding the pond was redesigned to link it to the house. New perennial flower borders add vibrancy and colour. A line of stately fastigated Hornbeams has been added to blend the formal and informal areas of the garden.

A new cutting garden with four box-edged beds provides fresh flowers throughout the year. Bleeding heart, peonies and alliums bloom in spring, shortly to be followed by roses, flush with red-tinged new leaves. The mower shed next to this area was renovated to make an elegant garden room.  A perfect place to sit, relax and enjoy the space. Different allium species were used throughout the garden.  This provides a variation in flower size, colour and height and also extends the flowering period.

The redesign is simple in concept and the build and planting are rich in detail.  It was a case of subtle editing rather than sweeping change in this garden’s transformation.  The owners  have since invited The Garden Company to work with them on their new garden following a house move.

James had so many ideas that we implemented. The new design brought a lot of year-round interest – lots of bulbs, carpets of daffodils and crocuses, and all the way through to the end of the season.

Mr and Mrs M, Bovingdon
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