When we came to this 55-acre estate in Dorset, on the banks of the river Allen, we found it surrounded by unkempt water meadows, with no garden and no sense of place; it needed a major intervention. I was given carte blanche and one year to complete the whole project. The Masterplan, working drawings for paving patterns, all furniture designs--including all the bridges and gates--and detailed planting plans were achieved and implemented by my wonderful team and I, all within the one-year deadline.
In the water meadows, we worked in conjunction with the National Rivers Authority and Dr Shirley Wright, who wrote a feasibility study for the 55 estate; this became our blueprint. Our work included restoring the banks, undertaking extensive tree planting, introducing a circulation route and carefully managing the wildlife and wetland areas. We also designed several bridged routes throughout the gardens and water meadows, one route leading a delightful bird watching pavilion designed by John Stefanidis at the very end of the property. We also designed a large circular copse planted with birch trees that we moved from various places in the grounds, surrounding the birch with a double row of tall beech hedges, leaving a discreet opening through hedges that leads to the centre of the copse.
When designing the gardens, we started with a newly planned entrance drive winding down a slope through carefully planted copses of trees, enhancing the views of the magnificent countryside across the fields towards the house. The drive culminates in a car park hidden from the house by a yew hedge. A small wooden gate through the hedge leads to the front door and a south-facing brick-and-stone paved terrace surrounded by flower borders. Here, one can sit and admire the view of the river with the sound of the water flowing from under the house, a former mill. On the other side of the house, where the land was higher than the ground floor level of the house, we carved out a small garden in which the house now sits more comfortably. Steps lead up to a further garden enclosed by an existing cobb wall planted with a double row of pleached lime trees framing a central lawn. Beyond this, though a small door, a series of metal arches covered in white wisteria and roses leads to the swimming pool garden. And beyond this we designed a ha-ha to achieve uninterrupted views across the countryside.
We advised on the choice of gardener and the maintenance for this project.