Leith Hill Farm

A three-part garden within a wider landscape for a converted farmhouse on Leith Hill

These clients approached me to help with a first phase of renovating a garden of several acres belonging to a converted farmhouse that they had just bought on Leith Hill – a characterful rural property with mellow Bargate stone and brick walls.

The Brief

The clients had inherited an extensive garden developed over 40 years by the previous owner, but now old and tired in places, and semi-derelict in others. The first thing they wanted to do, before turning their attention to the outer acres, was to renovate the areas closet to the house to create a series of discrete but connected gardens addressing the three main buildings: farmhouse, pool house and converted stable block, each with a different use and aspect.

With a garden of this size, I start out by creating a zone plan, to divide the garden into different areas of usage and priority. Even the nearer areas to the house required dividing into 11 zones, with the further garden areas left as is until a later date. I then formulated a Landscape Strategy in consultation with the clients in order to decide what the requirements were for each area, and in what order to implement works. The existing garden areas were in poor condition and had been developed piecemeal, and a fresh approach was required to string together a necklace of three interlinked gardens to better connect house, pool house and stable block, and link to an existing herb garden.

The Design

The house enjoys unimpeded views out across a large garden, and we wanted to maintain this feel of openness, meaning that any planting close to the house needed to be low and unobtrusive, whilst bringing colour and interest closer to the house. A new rear patio is created, allowing for a planting bed at the same level which does not impede views out across the lawn. A long reflecting pool provides a further sunken garden area and a perfect setting for a planned sculpture, from which semicircular stone steps will lead up to the expansive rear lawns. This area leads onto a dining area and then onto the second garden, a beautiful ornamental garden serving both the guest accommodation and pool house.

Carefully working the garden axes means that the sculpture sits on the intersection of the centre-line of both this garden and the reflecting pool. A new patio to the pool house allows room for both dining and sunbathing, from which steps up lead to a new sunken garden to the converted stable block. This is conceived as a sort of stage set for entertaining and larger occasions, being a space that faces the setting sun and has room for larger events. To one side of this, an alcove area will provide space for a Moroccan themed seating area, giving a cosy booth with cushions and mood lighting – alternatively (there are various options for this area at the moment), this area may be an outdoor kitchen, or a place for playing table tennis.




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