Country Garden, Berkhamsted

This garden was one of three for the same property (see also Courtyard Garden and Professional Garden). When we first visited this 2-acre site the Victorian country house, Berkhamstead, was midway through a three-storey extension and renovation.

Due to the topography of the site the gardens that surrounded the house divided neatly into three areas: a level sunny area (Courtyard Garden); a large sweeping front garden (Professional Garden); and this garden, the upper garden, which stood 3 metres above the proposed ground level of the house.

The three areas were designed and constructed in three phases as three separate gardens over the space of a year and a half, so that the implementation of each of the three gardens could dovetail in with the builder’s programme.

contemporary decking and seating area designed for country garden

The west facing elevated garden enjoys the sun from mid afternoon with attractive open views across a valley. What the client desired was a true country garden that bloomed with flowers and fruit, where she could grow vegetables, let her chickens roam and enjoy a drink in the evening.

We designed a hardwood deck with a summerhouse at one end of this garden for the client to relax and eat out. Beyond this we created a vegetable plot flanked by espaliered apples and pears, and a Victorian-style greenhouse, which was in keeping with the style of the house and the country feel of the garden.

This led on to an area of meadow surrounding a blossoming plum tree, which together created a simple, natural space in which chickens pecked and wandered.

For the client to access the garden, we built an informal sandstone and brick path, which was bounded on one side by a sandstone rockery peppered with native wildflowers, including campanulas, seathrift, campion and trailing stonecrops.

The path led up to the meadow, while on the other side of the garden a formal sweeping stairway with wide brick steps illuminated by soft step lights led to the deck and summer house.

Short Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp. ‘Niphophila’, screen one boundary, while the cinnamon bark of a line Betula ermanii, uplit with spike lights, provide a backdrop to the deck area.

Subtle use of red, which was a feature of the interior finishes to the house, was used to link the three gardens.

It was used in the different shades of brickwork specified for the walls, paths and the raised beds and for the planting; with the use of plants such as berberis, dogwood, phormium and smoke bush, which all have reddish hues; as well as plantings of red roses and tulips. This provided a unity to the overall scheme.

In Construction