Our clients’ property was next to a road and backing onto the river. Due to the slope of the land, at the front the house appears single storey but at the rear there are three floors. A dark, slate wall was blocking the view of the river and picket fences separated the gardens at the side of the house from that at the rear. The clients were keen to make the outside space more welcoming, incorporating a place to sit and some screening from the road. They wanted a garden that stayed connected to the wildness of the landscape, with plenty of greenery close to the house yet still affording them a pretty view of the river.
Taking inspiration from the river, our design included curves and a circular seating area paved with river cobbles and edge-on slate. We re-built the slate wall at ground level and combined it with a light modern porcelain, making two stepped patios, with a clear view from the house to the river. At the sides of the house, terraces on different levels were created, again recycling the slate as a retainer. We added large monolithic stones, like those on the mountains behind the river, glimpsed in wintertime when the leaves have fallen from the trees. The existing metal fence at the edge of the riverside was painted dark grey to complement a footbridge visible a few yards down the river, so that the fence would recede harmoniously into the surroundings. Next to the front wall we installed several white, multi-stem birches. These are fast-growing and have an open leaf habit, so they will screen the seating area from view while still allowing sunlight to filter through.
Planting for the straight lines of the rear patios was structured, pairing evergreen shrubs with scented plants for diverse appeal throughout the seasons. The colour scheme mirrored the white house front and the peachy coloured mortar at the back, with dashes of mauve for contrast. Blending with the untamed landscape and to attract pollinators, the side terraces were covered in wildflower turf. From amongst these pretty white ox-eye daisies arose the monoliths and the pale stems of the birches. Since we finished this inviting outside space filled with bees’ buzzing and the chattering of the stream below, our clients have spent more time outside than in, dining outside for every meal and sitting talking around the firepit late into the evenings.