In June 2017, Abbotswood Garden Design put the finishing touches to its most ambitious project to date, a five-acre Ascot garden – transformed from swampy building site to serene sanctuary over two years. Here, in the first of six blog posts, we share some of the highs and lows…
Designing in virtual reality
It was March 2015 when our Windlesham client first approached us about designing a new garden – and the project was fascinating from the outset. Both in their late 60s, the clients had decided to knock down a turn-of-the-century country house, in which they’d lived for more than 30 years, to build a modern house more suited to their needs, so when we arrived in April all that remained was the crushed debris of masonry and brick.
“It’s normal for designers and landscapers to design round a house, or at least let builders finish their work before proceeding,” says Abbotswood managing director Rob Chew. “But with so much needing to be done on the landscape it was agreed we should start work straight away even though the central focal point – the house – had yet to be built!”
The first meetings with the client, therefore, were not so much about our plans but looking at computer rendered house plans – imagining how the new house would sit in the landscape. The connection between the house and the garden is a crucial part of any garden design, so we worked closely with the luxury interior design and architecture firm Janine Stone, who personally worked on the exterior architecture, and its designer Simon Foot, who handled the interiors, to ensure the garden was fully integrated into the space.
“The new house was to be sited close to the original but orientated better so the windows would offer sweeping views of the garden. While the garden was little used previously, the client explained that it was now a big priority – they wanted a garden that was neither pretentious nor high maintenance and above all, looked good all year round from the expansive windows,” says Rob. “Given the complexity of the two-year build, it was with more than a little apprehension that we set about drawing up plans!”