Rural retreat

Balancing a sense of sanctuary with a strong connection to beautiful surroundings

The dream

Our clients asked us to transform their 1-acre garden set in a beautiful location on the top of the Chiltern Hills (an area of outstanding natural beauty) in Hertfordshire. The new garden needed to sit comfortably in a farmland setting yet have a contemporary, modern feel. Being keen cooks, our clients also required a small kitchen herb garden as well as a larger vegetable garden and orchard so that they could grow more of their own supplies.

Our insight

The house and garden are in a lovely setting, but the garden felt very open and quite exposed to the elements; there was also a sense of being overlooked by a neighbouring property.  A sense of sanctuary and privacy was required around the house whilst maintaining a visual connection with the surrounding countryside.  Views within the garden needed to be created and framed to give a sense of scale.

The transformation

The garden design is underpinned by a strong rectilinear geometry, to connect the house to the garden and create attractive, separate spaces.  Trees and clipped hedges were used to strengthen the geometry before the areas were over-layered with softer, more naturalistic planting. Further hedging, trees and grasses also provide screening from the property next door. Bespoke sculpture designed by James Scott was used to lead the eye and frame views from the house. A large area was given over to a wildflower meadow, using local native calcareous species to increase the garden’s biodiversity.  The meadow provides a further strong connection to the garden’s countryside.

Mown paths through the meadow area provide a sense of control and an invitation to explore further. An extra contemporary touch was added by using bespoke modern sculpture, designed by James Scott, to lead the eye and frame wonderful views across the Chilterns.​

Overall, the result is a garden which is well-loved and in constant use by its owners.  National recognition for the garden’s design concept was achieved in 2018 when it was shortlisted for an SGD Award. In addition, the exceptionally high standard of skill and craftmanship on display was recognised by BALI with a national landscaping award.

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