Ongoing development of this large hilltop garden in rural Oxfordshire began with a requirement to add more shape, form and structure to a large, sloping lawn which leads from the house down to the surrounding fields. The stunning house and garden has panoramic views across the countryside and it was important to maintain both the views and the feeling of the wide open country whilst creating more interest and intrigue, so we created 2 large crescent shaped beds at strategic points on the sloped lawn and added masses of planting. A large bank area was also stripped of turf and planted up with Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low', Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna', Alchemilla mollis and Cistus x pulverulentus against a backdrop of existing rose bushes. In the other new beds we combined shrubs which would withstand the strong winds and rabbits, such as Viburnum rhytidophyllum, various Cornus, Sambuca, Rosemary, Box and Cistus, along with Juniper scopulorum for storng vertical accents and drifts of select perennials and grasses such as Heleniums, Achillea, Verbena bonariensis, Monarda, Echinacea and Stipa tenuissima.
In addition a group of 3 beautiful silver birches was positioned in the lower portion of the lawn and a Malus as a specimen tree towards the top portion. With the new beds and trees, the design has made the most of the space and the views, creating more intimate areas, meandering paths and year round plant interest.
There had been a mass of daffodils in a more wooded area at the top of this lawn, but since these were all coming up blind by this stage, we replanted hundreds of new daffodils in swathes and clusters, along with crocuses and chinodoxa amongst an area of long grass around the trees, through which grass paths were then to be mown.
To soften the edges of the house we decided to add a run of Erigeron karvinskianus all around the bottom of the wall along the rear and side of the house. Over the past 2 years these have spread and grown to create an almost continuous run of hummocked daisies which brighten up the top of the terrace all summer long.
The next phase was the addition of a new fire pit area under some old oak trees and screened by existing shrubs and trees for privacy. The fire pit has been a great success and provides a useful alternative spot for parties.
The loss of a huge old oak tree to high winds, which left a very large and unsightly hole in the middle of a dense wooded area, became the next part of the garden which needed our attention. Reshaping the lawn and creating a new shrubbery has generated another new vantage point for a bench: a great new spot for enjoying the garden from a different perspective.
The latest piece of work here has been the reconfiguring of a what used to be a rockery beneath some very tall conifers. The soil level has been raised and a curved wall constructed from sleepers added around the higher edge. The conifer branches have been lifted to allow more light underneath and a new planting plan consisting of Cornus, Sambucas, Geraniums, low box hedging, Hakonechloa, Calamagrostis and shade tolerant ferns, Japanese anemones and Pachysandra has now been implemented.