Contemporary garden design project in Chester, Cheshire

Published by David Keegan 10 years ago

Written Brief  and pictures – Hilltop, Chester, Cheshire.

This Landscape design project achieved various design awards, along with being featured in an international book on Landscape Architecture published 2013

Hardiness Zone
The plot is located in UK hardiness zone 8

Site conditions
The extensively refurbished and modernised house sits in approximately 1.5 acres of land, with the remains of the original garden still in place. The original gardens were in a state of neglect, and looked dark and uninviting. Planting was outdated and overgrown with a large number of Cupressocyparis leylandii. The large garden had originally been broken into a series of smaller satellite areas.

Client’s needs
My clients are a young professional couple with one child. They have quite an eclectic taste, expressed through their large collection of modern art, furniture and sculpture. The wanted the gardens to have a sympathetic relationship with the house and interiors. They had a number of clear requirements. They wanted to have an area of the garden for relaxation, another area for entertaining close to the kitchen and a play area for their daughter. They particularly liked sunken gardens, tree ferns and water. Lighting was also essential, as they wanted to be able to be able to use the space as an extension to the house. They also wanted some element of sculpture and bespoke furniture in the garden. They did not like the colour red. My clients wanted to split the garden into a number of areas, and each area or garden room to have its own distinctive style; which must relate to the adjoining room in the house.

Design intent
I created a garden design with a series of contemporary and distinctive garden rooms, with each room provoking a different sense of feeling and response. By dividing the garden into these compartments, I have created a sense of journey and discovery. The garden has a sense of lightness with a sense of adventure and fun. The inspiration for the garden to the side of the sunken room came from English
National Opera production of Zerkses, and it was designed as a piece of art or an installation, rather than a strictly conventional garden.

Project description
A series of unique themed areas – creating a journey of wonder around the plot. Each garden room creates a unique framed picture to the various internal facets of the house. For example the sunken garden is aligned centrally to the bi fold doors to the kitchen area. The curved path sculpture garden to the side of the garden is viewed from the long dining hall whilst the decked exotics garden likes directly with the lounge room again via the bi fold doors with the deck run level to the internal flooring. Beyond the monolith water feature is a circular entrance to the hidden children’s play area. Planting in this area is more jungle like to make it a more dynamic journey for children to the play area.

Environmental responsibility
Building materials sourced locally. Also 95% of the plants used were supplied by a local specialist plant hunter’s nursery all of whose stock is grown from seed. The nursery owners are one of the few in the UK to hold a licence to import and grow seed collected in various corners of the world. This allowed me a rare plant palette without the need to import exotics. The curved pathways and terracing to sunken garden area are made from reconstituted recycled aggregate. All beds were mulched on completion with bark chip to conserve moisture. Timber was all from certified managed sources. Local landscaping team was used for construction.

Designer’s role
To liaise with clients in creation of the designs and oversee the implementation of designs with landscape team. To specify and source all plants.

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