We’re now into the third summer of this lovely streamside garden near Lyme Regis. What was once pastureland, this half acre strip of land had been parceled with the house but never turned into a garden, so was a fabulous blank canvas for me to turn into a pleasing space for the new owners.
The garden is very long, sloping steeply at first and then gently through water meadow-like ground down to the river. It’s also relatively narrow, with a natural focal point at the end of the space in the form of a woodland opening. This created an obvious long axis to draw the eye down the garden – something I wanted to accentuate with the design.
Nearer the house, a raised formal pond creates the counterpoint to the ‘avenue’ and distant focal point, and a on the patio a greenhouse and enclosed vegetable garden provides the house with culinary treats and cut flowers.
My intention was to maintain a open central strip of lawn bordered by ‘scrolls’ and curving masses (of planting, trees, features, etc). When the planting eventually fills out the lawned area will shrink to a central avenue, with openings and vistas leading off to the left and right, drawing the eye down to the end of the garden where it is intended that a central focal point (of statuory or natural feature) will eventually be placed, to be framed by the woodland.
As well as adding all the essentials like patio, pathways and steps, the clients wanted a wildlife pond, and what better way to enjoy that than close up from a deck and jetty. This is designed to overhang the pond, providing shade and shelter for aquatic life and creating the impression of an island in the water.
In such a wet environment, it made sense to use a product that wouldn’t degrade or require endless maintenance. Millboard composite decking was chosen to provide the rustic timber effect without all the accompanying problems of rot and slipperiness of wood.
A summerhouse provides a more sheltered place to observe the pondlife. It’s a cosy space that gets the evening sun, perfect for entertaining with friends or just watching dragonflies skimming the water .
While the central space of the garden is open and sunny, it is surrounded by densely planted (and protected) towering native trees, which puts a more diminutive perspective to what, on paper, seems like a large garden.
Rather than fighting with this backdrop, it was important to me to incorporate trees within the garden and allow the scale to reduce gradually – rather than going from a 100ft Lime tree down to a collection of knee-high perennials…
The presence of deer in the garden had a bearing on the planting scheme, which also meant less of a reliance on soft perennial planting, and careful selection of shrubs with least appeal. Grasses and phormiums are particularly useful where deer are present, and happily this coincided with the wetland rush-like look required around the pond. Combined with the marginal planting, this provides natural low level camouflage and shelter for pond and insect life. Two ‘triangles’ of wildflower meadow are slowly being evolved, by allowing the existing grass to grow long, weeding out the unwanted growth and and interplanting with patches of ‘MeadowMat‘ – which will self-seed and spread in time.
The build was completed over a six month period, but the planting will take around 5 years to fill out and merge sufficiently. In the meantime, the pond area has evolved very quickly and is already providing the owners with much pleasure in observing the rapid wildlife colonisation.