High Meadow

A multi-level family garden in Dorking with a large raised deck with spectacular views of the North Downs

This English-Argentinian couple had bought a house on the hilly side of Dorking, with fantastic views across to the north downs. The garden was a blank canvas except for a lot of overgrown shrubs and some huge Leylandii trees which were taking up about a quarter of the garden. The garden needed a completely fresh approach, and the clients were keen to make the most of an as-yet unused steeply sloping area that had the best views, as well as combining the best influences from their respective cultures – a marriage of classic English stye coupled with the Argentinian passion for outside cooking and dining.

The Brief

The clients wanted a completely renewed rear garden, with space for their two young sons to play, but also a large patio with space for cooking and dining. They also wanted to fit in some natural children’s play, a hammock area in shade, trees, beautiful planting, a way of reconciling the complex levels, and a new raised area to appreciate the best views facing the summer sunset.

The Design

I was really pleased with this design, and it is still one of my favourites in terms of how it addresses the space. The garden was roughly square with a small extra sloped section forming a large raised alcove. I inscribed concentric circles into the garden which ran through the whole design, from the lawns and beds to the decking and raised grass amphitheatre.

The design starts with a large limestone rear patio, onto which I placed a bespoke brick-built parrilla that I designed for the clients (a beautiful traditional Argentinian way of cooking large slabs of meat!). A large circular lawn is framed by concentric strip beds formed by oak sleepers, which form the levels of the amphitheatre, with its grass terraces.

The soft prairie planting gives a sense of air and light and a lot of seasonal change, and we also fitted in five beautiful new trees, including two silver birch, a quince, a flowering crab and a beautiful flowering Cercis. The showstopper was the large, split level raised Siberian Larch deck, which offers stunning views out to the north downs and is the perfect spot for entertaining and evening gin and tonic. This is concealed by a classically English Yew hedge, clipped to follow the curve and rise of the deck. This was an early highlight of my career and I’m still proud of both the spatial and planting design.




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