garden with woodland backcloth – work in progress

August 20, 2010

An early morning site visit to answer some queries. Could we suggest how new paths and existing routes should integrate in the best possible way? Slightly outside the remit of our brief on this project but always useful to discuss and find satisfactory solutions. The landscaping here has been going on for a couple of months and should be finished within just a few days before we return to plant up in early autumn. This summer has been kind to contractors and, in this scenario, especially good news. The ground had to be sculpted to create easy access paths through the sloping site. Initially we were called in to make changes in another area but, also, to see how we could improve, practically and aesthetically, this part of the garden leading to the woodland and the stream in the valley below.

The constraints were obvious showing an uneven, slippery and, also, uninviting  grassy slope to the lower woodland area. There existed however, a rather interesting feature of adjoining walls wrapping the  footprint of an old greenhouse – tantalising but difficult to access.

So to cut a long story short, we got rather obsessed with this problem area as against the easier area! The clients got  fired up too with addressing the potential in this part of their garden and put the other area on hold. So, off we went! What follows now is a series of photos on construction, so be warned . . .

. . . the new access – the paths will have a top surface of self binding gravel. The areas for planting need an additional forking in of FYM. We won’t use mushroom compost here as it will be too alkaline . . .

. . the old vine was successfully retained and green oak sleepers now wrap the areas to be planted around the spacious terraces. Strange how much more generous, in spatial terms,  the whole area has become. Wait until it’s planted with low waving grasses and spreads of clipped evergreen plinths . . .

. . . the image below shows the ‘before’ where the old heating pipes are still evident within the green house area. We kept with brick as a surface using some of the original bricks, if not too damaged, and incorporating them into the extended floor surface. These clients want to re-use existing materials as much as possible, if appropriate, which fits in with our ethos and also that of this contractor –  Hurrah!  . .

. . . and ‘after’, or now, before planting.

Sometimes these images of newly constructed landscaping look like a new haircut . . .. but, we as a team, know exactly what we are doing  (without being big headed)  and when I post pictures of the scheme planted, all will be revealed . . . there is a classic expression that ‘the planting will soften the hard edges’ but  if the construction is good, as in this case, then the shapes sit well and don’t need softening. The plants will just add an extra something . . .

. . . the view here is important – it’s straight from the new enlarged terrace to the path down to the woodland. We need to ensure that we propose low planting here . . . .

. . . the steps will be finished within days giving the clients a pleasing and safe access down to their watery area. Before you took your life in your hands . . . . . .

. . below shows the co-designer in the background and ‘boss’ contractor getting things organised for the finish! It’s all about the team!

I like the neat collection of spades – it reminded me of this poem by Robert Frost  – The Objection to Being Stepped on.

At the end of the row
I stepped on the toe
Of an unemployed hoe.
It rose in offense
And struck me a blow
In the seat of my sense.
It wasn’t to blame
But I called it a name.
And I must say it dealt
Me a blow that I felt
Like a malice prepense.
You may call me a fool,
But was there a rule
The weapon should be
Turned into a tool?
And what do we see?
The first tool I step on
Turned into a weapon.

Robert Frost

See the garden completed here

2 Responses to “garden with woodland backcloth – work in progress”


  1. […] part of a designer’s role. There were 2 posts on this garden build – the first is here ( last autumn) and the second here (early […]

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