Dam Cottage is probably one off the most challenging design prospects i have faced since designing the gardens for my multi-award winning project Thornlea Farm some years ago. Set in a scheduled vale with the gardens neglected for many years prior to the new owners taking it on, it is effectively a series of slopes of varying degrees. So, a big and daunting challenge, but a magical opportunity none the less. Indeed on the day of my first visit this area of the West Pennine Moors lay shrouded in a misty blanket. Driving by the old church, graveyard and past ancient stone cottages, in its eerie but charming village of Tockholes, i couldn’t help but feel it somehow reminded me of a fairyland, or perhaps the set from a Harry Potter movie. Set in a small hamlet dating back to the 1600’s it formed part of a community of weavers, with the cottage getting its name from the river which still runs through the grounds and originally had a water wheel to the side of the house. Given the difficulties of the site and the complex nature of the build that will be required this project will be installed over the next number of years. My designs for the gardens will require large scale land reformation to the front aspect to make it more accessible and user friendly but will also involve the restoration of an ancient road entrance and long gone steps leading down to the cottage, along with this will be a new orchard and terraces strategically placed to take advantage of the stunning views afforded in the upper areas of the plot.
This is a revised version of the preface I wrote in 2013 for the book Garden Structures Designs published in China by Tianjin Phoenix Space Culture Media Co., Ltd. avaible in both Chinese and English language versions.