When we were asked to come and have a look at a small estate that had been vacant for eleven years that had an interesting history, I have to admit, I was full of apprehension and wondered what sort of magic we needed to harness, to restore this overgrown and neglected large plot…
The garden was on the edge of an ancient woodland, mostly covered in ten-foot-high brambles and tree saplings, with glimpses of the way things were many years ago; a broken orangery, an orchid house complete with a tree growing though it and the occasional view of some very special planting.
Over many months, we managed to unveil a thing of great beauty, there were waterfalls, hidden sculptures and endless botanical collections of unusual species that had obviously been lovingly grown by someone passionate plants over many years.
We then went on to carefully document what plants were there, with the occasional help from the Chelsea Physic Garden. We arranged for the paths, fences, glass houses and furniture to be restored, and drew up a plan of what was there, with the aim to better understand its former glory. Then with careful consultation with the new owners we created a plan for the whole garden that not only restored elements of the original vision, but to also bring it up to date and work as a family home for the new owners.
This was an amazing project where we learned about honouring the history and heritage of a place, but still applying our brief to make if ‘work’ as a family garden and to be eventually open to the public. With careful restoration, hours of research, careful plant selection, a lot of pruning and some good design principles we restored this property’s garden to its former glory. At the same time as making every inch now function well and look beautiful, we managed to be respectful to hundreds of years of horticulture.
I now am less quick to judge a book by its cover. Every person’s garden has something special to offer, no matter how big or small. Its often about the people who have inhabited the space and the needs of the new owners.
Project Manager: Mark Holman