Kent Country Estate





An Extensive High-End Country Garden for Private Clients

In 2010 I was approached by private clients wishing to complete the landscaping on their country estate. The clients were a family with 2 children and had already spent several years reworking the house and having several acres of gardens developed when I became involved; they wanted to finish off the gardens and enjoy family life with their children. The site was a beautiful rural setting on the Low Weald, which had once been only woodsmen’s cottages and a coppiced woodland, but now included a large barn-style house constructed from massive green oak timbers, with rustic waney-edged oak boards on the outside but with a stylish modern interior.

The Brief

The clients had left the most important, and tricky bits of the landscape until last, and needed to fit together the 14 already-completed garden zones with four new areas: a main entrance area with new parking, an impressive grid of huge Cor-ten steel planters planted in a prairie style and bespoke sculptures; a woodland garden with 30 new trees slotted in amongst existing mature oaks, a new access gated access driveway with ornamental planting; and a turf amphitheatre to house a new sculpture.

The Design

My design included classically modern grid of planting beds using alternating scupltures and topiary for structure, all arranged to echo the huge oak timbers that formed the house verticals, a private garden for the lady of the house, a woodland garden with spring herbaceous planting and bulbs, five-tier turf amphitheatre, driveways, parking and new pedestrian routes. The site was a complex one with heavy clay soil further worsened by compaction from previous construction works on site. There was a significant slope across the site and in order to create level areas for parking and reconcile the various levels, hundreds of tonnes of soil had to be moved.

The design required co-operation with several external contractors. The grand entrance area required a highly-skilled steel fabricator to construct the raised Cor-ten steel beds I had designed to millimetre tolerances, and a sculptor to carve large green oak obelisks to my specification and combined with topiary of identical dimensions to form a bold scheme with year-round structure. A structural engineer was engaged to design strong but thin cantilevered concrete retaining walls which were then completely concealed with instant hedging up to 4.5m in height.

Accurate soil grading produced a beautiful asymmetric turf amphitheatre acting both as a private garden and a perfect backdrop for one of the client’s sculptures. A peaceful and romantic woodland walk was created to enclose this amphitheatre, and a revised driveway and parking layout designed for increased parking, better separation of family and visitor areas, and better circulation and access within the site. Additional features included the construction of a disabled ramp for elderly family visitors, concealed behind a mature yew hedge, strong vehicular barriers concealed within hedges, glass balustrades, and over 300 linear metres of instant native hedging planted to provide privacy and conceal engineering details. Finally, 20,000 bulbs were planted beneath the new avenue of driveway trees to add interest from February to June.

This was a hugely exciting, challenging and rewarding project carried out over 2 years to produce a landscape of the highest quality and intended to serve the clients for decades to come. My clients were exceptionally private people and a condition of the project was that I was not even allowed to bring a camera on site.