The brief was to design a garden in this enclosed space of about 0.5 acre.
The octagonal building was to be retained as summer house. The owners would have been using this garden as a retreat, and guests would have enjoyed its charm.
Planting was the key element here.
It would have had to nurture an unexpected show, different form any other garden on the estate and the dense yew hedges on three sides were helping to achieve this surprise element. The open view to the fields on one side would had to be preserved as it was giving depth to the design. The large Liriodendron tulipifera and Aesculus hippocastanum offered a sense of maturity and gave height to the garden, but the resulting shadow casted upon the planting was liming the choice in places, particularly underneath the dense canopies of the horse chestnuts.
The new planting would have had to look good for most of the year but peaks in July-August were adamant to match the family's holiday period.
A relatively low level of maintenance would have been a bonus as it would have translated on not having to increase the number of staff.
Furthermore, this could have been a place for taking some cut flowers for the house, so that they could implement those taken from the rest of the estate and be enjoyed also indoors.
A total of about 2,500 plants were used in this garden. I have done most of the planting on my own helped from time to time by a 65 year old very hard working and forbearing gardener...
The soil was poor. Hard and stony in places. Sandy and loose elsewhere.
Although the surrounding yew hedges provided shelter from the strongest winds, the heat of the summer days trapped inside the garden generated severe conditions for the young plants. Hand-irrigation was crucial.
The fields nearby harboured more challenges: weeds and...
"The rabbit proof fence was working but something else went wrong. I had never seen them before but I have soon learnt that muntjacs could jump higher and they happen to like plants too!".