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Blackboys Farmhouse

An old Sussex farmhouse, beautifully restored by it’s new owners. An open field adjoins one side of the garden and allows views down to a small river and trees and fields beyond. Mature woodland bounded the property on two other sides. 
The majority of the hard landscaping had already been planned and completed by the time we became involved and hence in the main this was predominantly a planting–based project.


To design a layout for the garden within the existing hard landscape framework which set the house comfortably within the surrounding landscape as well as providing interest within the garden itself and framing views out from the garden.

Restore the field to something more in keeping with the surrounding rural landscape.

Design the planting to create a natural flow through the boundary between garden and field beyond.

To resolve the levels issue around the oak tree and create as level and perfect a lawn as possible.

Manipulate views in and out of the garden to avoid all of the garden being immediately visible and obvious.

The garden as it was...

With the hard landscaping (predominantly brick and Indian sandstone) in place the garden desperately needed plants. With the exception of an establised beech hedge running along the western boundary and a beautiful oak tree, there was very little of any merit worth retaining. The oak tree had an area of paving underneath it which wasn't ideal for its on-going health, nor visualy appealing and this needed remedying. Two lines of birch marched down the field towards a large pond that refused to hold water and the looked rather out of sync with its rural setting.


The extract from the Layout Plan below shows our suggestions for the organisation of the new garden. 

A large new border, containing predominantly perennials and grasses, together with a curved sandstone retaining wall and steps create the new division between garden and field. By using a retaining wall and sloping the border we were able to adjust the levels to allow for a much flatter and visually appealing lawn. 
The field can also be accessed via an avenue of Parrotias. Large borders give balance to the scheme and soften the existing hard landscaping.  


Looking down from the parking area to the entrance to the curved avenue of Parrotia persica 'Vanessa' (Persian Ironwood). The mature woodland on the left encloses the garden on this side and the field and wildflower meadow lie at the end of the avenue. 
A Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii', notable for its beautiful tiered habit, is in flower in front of the woodland and Astrantia major 'Claret' lights up the foreground.
The canopy of the majestic oak creates a beautifully shaded location for some seating. Fortunately the power lines have now gone underground and the temporary deer fencing has been removed, leaving uniterrupted views into the field beyond.  
The Miscanthus and tall planting in the beds close to the parking area ensure that for much of the year one only gains glimpses into the garden upon arrival. The gentle movement of the Miscanthus provides a nice contrast to the solidity of the wall.
The paving around the base of the oak has been removed and the levels immediately around the base of the trunk returned to their original state. 
By doing a small amount of cutting and filling we were able to get rid of the gentle slope between garden and field and create a much cleaner boundary. The Sussex sandstone wall and steps are of the local vernacular and sit very comfortably into this environment. Recessed pointing of the joints creates lovely shadows in the wall. 
In the field the birch have been lifted and re-planted in a more natural grouping, the pond filled in and a wildflower meadow sown. The meadow has done incredibly well, providing a mass of flower and insect food for many months. 
The planting around the house has developed well.