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Wondering down a mown pathway, with the dappled shade from many trees dancing on either side, I gaze ahead to see the reflections on a lake drawing me on.

I breathe in and turn right and step into a grove of wild cherry, Prunus avium, planted in a large square formation grid. The design, so regimented amongst the naturalistic planting, gives this grove so much sense of place. All around me tall pale tree trunks reach up to the sky, they look like pillars. The canopies above flutter and play with the light. It feels powerful and emotive, I am standing in natures church, happily worshipping its beauty.

I have been visiting Bryan’s ground for four years, each year I am delighted by its design and amazed at how quickly the garden is maturing in the rich loam of Herefordshire.

The house, owned by David Wheeler and Simon Dorrell, lies near Presteigne on the border between England and Wales and was built between 1911 and 1913. The gardens are home to 20 garden rooms, a rose garden, topiary, box pareterres, follies, long hedges, a ha-ha, a potager, a lake, a river and a thriving arboretum with long mown paths. It is a dream come true garden.

The planting is wonderful, sometimes colour themed, often very formal, at times very wild.

At the entrance, by the house, beautiful fruit trees line the scallop edged canal, they are underplanted with squares of 4ft-high Iris sibirica. If you come between mid May and early June you are greeted by thousands of these mass planted Iris in dazzling blue full bloom.

Full of anticipation, one flows from one garden room to the next, drawn on by the next peek of an urn, a gap in the hedges, or a jaunty building. It never disappoints, there is something special round every corner and down every path. The carefully curated vistas anchor the garden to the surrounding landscape and make you stop, gaze and wonder how you might be able to make it so you could stay here forever.

 

Bryan’s Ground, Stapleton (Nr Presteigne), Herefordshire (01544 260001;www.bryansground.co.uk). It will open again next spring to the public.

David Wheeler and Simon Dorrell are editors of Hortus magazine, a collection of essays and notes on horticulture. http://www.hortus.co.uk/

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The grid, Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

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Mown pathways, Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

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The canal, Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

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The house at Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

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The wonderful planting, Bryan’s Ground © Cat Howard

 

There are so many reasons for us to long for a trip to Japan, not least because of their wonderful ancient art of garden design.

Hoshinoya Karuizawa is a stunning hotel located in Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan.

The landscaped water gardens were designed by Hiroki Hasegawa. There is a natural hot spring at the heart of the hotel which sits in a valley at the foot of Mt. Asama. There are beautiful ancient trees, a river, small connecting bridges and winding scenic paths. The needs of the hotel and the existing natural environment are considered beautifully in the design, which is a triumph of serenity and meandering exploration.

What a wonderful place to rest ones head, cleanse the soul and inspire the mind.

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For this Kew garden, which overlooks the River Thames, we designed some lovely powder coated steel planters in dove grey, which work on two levels. These were filled with large Buxus balls and grasses.

The bins are now contained in a bespoke bin store, the front bed was planted with new green and purple planting and the window boxes with smart clipped Buxus balls.

 

IMG_6573 Front garden Front garden Bin store PlantingPlanters and river view

This period property which is based in the Primrose Hill conservation area, was built in the mid 1800’s. Part of Chalcot Square, it had a long, overgrown and rather dense garden.

The build was completed in the summer of 2014, the original London yellow brick garden walls were freed from a heavy blanket of dark Ivy. Smooth modern cut sandstone paving adds a level of refinement to the patio area around the house and a lower level parterre is paved with coarse red brick and ornate edging. At night the garden is lit, offering views which extend the feeling of space from the house.

The planting consists of gravel beds with relaxed perennials in shades of pink, blue and white. These are set off by edges of formal clipped box, which add formality and balance the design. Climbers were chosen to creep over the walls and will give off heady scents all year round.

The new terrace is designed for entertaining and the seating area offers a place to relax and look out towards the garden. Beautiful large jars and sculptures decorate the garden and draw the eye through it.

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Beautiful Astrantia and  Stipa Tenuissima grass, planted in gravel. Primrose Hill garden

Beautiful Astrantia and Stipa Tenuissima grass, planted in gravel.
Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Primrose Hill garden

Astrantia and  Stipa Tenuissima. Primrose Hill garden

Astrantia and Stipa Tenuissima. Primrose Hill garden

Colours

Colours

Sculpture can be so important in an outdoor space; it creates focus, intensifies the sense of place and relates to the vegetation, light and the seasonality of a garden.

We also love it when sculptures are used as physical punctuation; at the end of a long view, they become a full stop, or a comma as they lead onto another space or another sculpture.

We love the work of Charlotte Mayer, a Goldsmiths graduate. One of her pieces ‘The Thornflower’ commemorates the death of her grandmother in Treblinka at the hands of the Nazis, but at the same time represents the hope of reconciliation. Her work has wonderful movement and would enchant and enhance the right space.

More information on Charlotte can be found on The Garden Gallery’s website, amongst many other talented artists.

The Thornflower

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We have been hard at work on this roof terrace for a wonderful large eco house in Holland Park. The house is a large, minimal new build and the owners are keen gardeners that wanted something beautiful to be in and look at from their bedroom window.

Currently the whole space is decked and pretty characterless, although it has some good London views and overlooks a working community garden space.

We wanted to make the space as green and secluded as possible, there are views through two large sliding glass doors out onto the terrace, one from the hallway and study area and one from the clients bedroom, so it is the first thing they see upon waking.

Particular attention was paid to the impact of the weight bearing of the building so Cat Howard worked alongside FORM Structural Design to achieve the most suitable solution. The paving was laid on a Caro support system and the planters were part filled with polystyrene blocks and then GT4 low bulk density soil to keep them within weight. The terrace also has a full irrigation system for the summer months and lighting which highlights the plants atmospherically, lengthening the use of the terrace on warm evenings and providing a beautiful night time view from the house.

Large deep planters line the edges and a single central planter defines the dining area from the seating area, and trees will provide lovely green screening from the neighbours but not block them out or cut the owners off from their community.

The ground is cut grey sandstone with strips of gravel in which Thyme and Chamomile will be planted and which will release scent when walked upon. In this way and others the planting plan pays particular attention to olfactory perception, something which was of utmost importance to the client.

The garden is now complete and awaiting spring for its first proper photoshoot.

A big thank you goes out to The Outdoor Room whose experienced team carried out the build on the roof terrace with great efficiency and to a quality finish.

Before
The space as it was

Before

Glass doors

View out to terrace

Work commences and the old terrace is taken apart
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Work commences

The stone paving and the generous planters go in and planting commences
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The Outdoor Room hard at work
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Planting and the finishing touches

We will upload photos of the finished garden after it has had some time to establish this spring.

Here are the mood images and the planting plan

View from bedroom

View from top

Planting plan

A little imagination goes a very long way for the architectural design duo aptly named The Practice of Everyday Design. They took a log, hired a lumberjill who hacked holes into it, then a motorcycle saddle maker lined the holes with hand-sewn upholstered flame red material. The result is a pretty saucy bit of furniture which would look mightily appealing surrounded by lush green plants.

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