Cottage in Hampshire

This pretty cottage in Hampshire has a large sloping garden wrapping around the front and side with woods and fields to the rear and a narrow lane at the bottom. We had previously designed a formal London garden for these clients; however, for their cottage, we were all in agreement that something gentle and bucolic that would sit harmoniously into the surroundings was needed.

Quite a lot of work had previously been done to the gardens, cutting into the sloping land with large retaining walls, lines of pleached trees and a very large parking area. We felt that this jarred with the flowing beauty of the surrounding landscape of the cottage and immediately thought that the best design solution would be to return the natural feeling contours to the land.

Our clients took a leap of faith with us and agreed to take out the pleached trees and to import soil to hide the retaining walls in new soft slopes. We created planted mounds and bunds and sinuous gravel paths to follow the contours of the garden. Two beautiful, very old, multi-stem field maples were planted into the main slope above the drive, which, along with other mature shrubs and trees, immediately gave this garden a maturity and the natural quality which it had previously been missing. Large areas of both the woodland and lawn were seeded with wildflower mixes and are now left un-mown until the end of the summer. Wide, winding grass paths are mown through these wild areas creating walks through the garden.

Although the lane at the bottom of the garden has very few cars it does seem to be the route for large numbers of inquisitive walkers and our clients needed more privacy especially around the pool area. By carefully placing large trees and planting the slopes of the garden our clients now feel entirely secluded.

The deer and rabbits in this area of Hampshire are prolific and hungry so much of the colour comes from flowering shrubs such as Hydrangeas, Viburnums, Lilac, Witch Hazels, Euonymus and Black Elders. A large variety of ornamental grasses and a few deer proof perennials such as Hellebores, Euphorbias, Actaeas, large Eupatorium maculatum and Persicaria polymorpha make the transition from the meadow areas to the shrubs and woodland. The garden also sits on almost solid clay and is a very wet site, so although extensive works was done to condition the soil and improve the drainage, the species have also been chosen for their ability to tolerate the conditions.

The front of the cottage is a sun trap and much drier than the rest of the garden so here we have made a series of gravel and cobble areas that step down with the cottage and are planted with herbs and Mediterranean species. It has become a perfect place to sit and while away summer weekends.

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