We completed this garden design for a large garden that has a wonderful setting alongside a lake in the southwest of Ireland. It required a design intervention that would create a beautiful garden for our client whilst not detracting from its attractive setting with the spectacular view towards the lake and connection to the countryside.
Our garden design brief included the following aspects: firstly, to design out the blandness of the steep slope to the rear of the house making it more useable but not by simply imposing a single dominant retaining wall to the slope, secondly to create formalised, romantic planting around the house and thirdly to provide more interest to the lower garden extending to the lake, without obstructing views from the house.
Our design solution for the slope involved creating four terraces to the slope using curved walls set at different heights and which run in to a central set of steps which themselves curve up the slope. The natural stone walls follow the contours and blend together to create a finish that is unique to this garden and which have elements of artistry as well as engineering in the design that we feel are appropriate to this garden setting.
For the planting design, we decided that there would essentially be four types of planting in this garden:
- Woodland planting as back-drop planting, to create shelter and to frame views;
- soft perennials, small shrubs and grasses for the main planting areas visible from the house (this was to be loosely a là Monet’s garden at Giverny);
- shrub planting that would create low maintenance garden structure and interest replacing extensive tracts of grass;
- and bulb planting amongst longer meadow grass to provide massed interest in the spring.
We were also asked to design a specific vegetable growing area with fruit trees to the lower garden and we completed this in the shape of a large pin-wheel. This provides planting “segments” that can be planted with fruit, vegetables, herbs and ornamentals in whatever combination is desired. We surrounded this circular area with espaliered fruit trees and shrub planting outside that will provide enclosure and shelter with time.
We planted the copse of mature trees by the lakeside with Bluebells, ferns and woodland plants.
The design uses flowing curves to make use of the existing ground contours and which enables grass and planting areas to be blended together in a pleasing way.
The hard landscape intervention was straightforward. We included two new gravel paths in the rear garden. One of them snakes down the side of the garden ending in a new wooden bridge beside the lake. The other connects the patio to the rear of the house with the vegetable garden before proceeding to an area of woodland and eventually emerging at a jetty on the lake.
To the rear of the garden the set of steps enables access up the slope to a viewing area at the top of the garden, which provides a new panorama across the garden and to the surrounding countryside.