FIDLER & FIDLER GARDEN DESIGN

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Mill Barn

The virtually bare rear garden of a tastefully renovated brick, stone and timber barn and byres. Set in lovely Sussex countryside, the garden is very private, being unseen from other properties or the wider landscape.

THE BRIEF

Create a 'modern' looking garden with clean and crisp lines. 

To create a more harmonious relationship between house and garden given the raised nature of the garden and its current proximity to the rear walls of the old byres in particular.

White was to be the predominant colour throughout.

Given the difficulties of the sloping nature of the site, reconfigure the existing levels and groundform to make the garden more useable and allow for better access up and around the garden.

Attempt to relieve the visual impact of the very large Leyland cypress hedge running along the northern boundary, which could not be removed.

 

The garden as it was...

A large Lawson cypress hedge provides privacy along the northern boundary, but is rather imposing. Removing it or reducing its height significantly were not possible solutions. Otherwise the garden is entirely featureless and a completely bare space.
A narrow path and rising ground levels makes the barn feel rather squashed. Double doors leading out from the main living space led directly onto a grass bank.

THE PLAN

The extract from the Outline Plan below shows our suggestions for the new layout. 
Firstly we widened the path running along the back of the barn considerably, thus pulling the garden back from the barn and allowing it to breathe. A new retaining wall would define this space and then a second lower retaining wall above it alllowed us to create an area of flat lawn. 
The double doors out from the barn now lead onto a generous paved sitting and dining area with planting on two sides. There is then a strong axis created up stone steps towards the focal point of a cedar greenhouse. Low retaining walls on either side of an offset gravel and stone path would provide occasional seating and retained beds of perennials and grasses behind. 
A pergola was used to provide a step down in scale from the hedge and hence reduce its dominating nature.

THE OUTCOME

Looking back down the garden towards the barn. The planting on either side of the path whilst not symmetrical contains drifts of the same species on either side to give rhythmn and continuity. Predominantly white planting was used to complement the white painted render, with only the occasional dab of other colour. The low walls provide useful informal seating and a safe spot to put down a glass of wine.
The cedar greenhouse set on a small terrace forms the focal point at the end of the path. The fencing has been painted black which both helps it recede into the background, but also provides a wonderful backdrop to show of the intensity of the whites and greens in front.
The garden has been pulled back, away from the buildings. The retaining walls were all rendered and painted white. Using a second retaining wall on the upper level allowed us to create a flat area of lawn. The line of variegated Luzula just softens the edge of the wall and provides a useful visual reminder to prevent one stepping off the edge.
The pergola is now covered with vines and not only provides fruit but is a blaze of colour in autumn. It helps to break up the wall of green that is the Lawson cypress hedge and thus reduce it's imposing effect.