In the sixth of a 12-part series on Designing a Large Country Garden we look at the things to consider when including
garden buildings in a large garden
INCORPORATING GARDEN BUILDINGS INTO A LARGE GARDEN
One of the great joys of a large country garden is having the space to incorporate garden buildings. Whether it’s a summer house, a pool room or a garden office, an architecturally crafted garden building offers a wonderful opportunity to create something unique and unexpected for your garden, while even a potting shed or greenhouse can enhance the landscape if designed and positioned in the right way.
Over the past year, garden rooms have surged in popularity. Confined to our homes, a separate building in the garden can feel as though you are making a journey to a different place altogether, providing a quiet and tranquil place for work or a tailor-made space for entertainment.
Current trends aside though, garden buildings have a long tradition in large gardens and country estates, from practical buildings for storage to decorative structures for entertaining, or follies, built simply for their aesthetic pleasure. Regardless of their size or function, garden buildings offer a chance to be creative. Even the tiniest and most functional can be beautiful, while the best examples can be architectural masterpieces.
GARDEN BUILDING ARCHITECTURE
When considering a garden building, we often work with architects either to adapt an existing structure or create something bespoke. It’s important to think about how the building will appear from every angle and what you will see when looking out of its windows, as well as to consider its size and scale in relation to the surrounding landscape. Do you want it to be an intimate garden room or a grand pavilion? Should it be functional or purely ornamental? Garden buildings allow architects to give free rein to their imagination, so whatever the building is used for, it can still be designed to surprise and delight.
In a previous post we discussed the importance of focal points when creating a masterplan for a large country garden. Garden buildings are an ideal component for this. Positioned carefully, they will help to draw one onwards by giving the eye somewhere to land within the landscape, while also providing the opportunity to create an important link between the house and its setting through architecture and materials.
The key, as with all property, is location. A well-sited building will enhance the visual appearance of your garden inviting further investigation and exploration and providing contrast to the surrounding landscape. In this garden in Hampshire (above), the doorway we proposed in the centre of the pool building now provides the focus to the central path of the rose parterre, thus drawing the eye on into the pool garden and encouraging visitors to move forward into this space. Whilst in this Berkshire garden (below), an elegant summerhouse creates a focal point at one end of a grass tennis court, providing an eye-catching view from the house as well as a lovely place to sit and enjoy the tennis.
Ensuring a garden building sits comfortably within the landscape is also important. Connecting the building to its surroundings through planting and choice of local materials will allow the building to sit sympathetically into the design.
When we were first invited to redesign this garden (below) we found a lovely thatched pavilion marooned in a sea of grass when approached from any angle across an open lawn, with little logic as to its placement or apparent purpose. Our design set about anchoring it to its setting with planting and turning it into a beautiful focal point, as well as somewhere to retreat to and enjoy views across the new gardens.
It now feels tucked away and cosy. In the foreground planting is kept low to ensure views are maintained from within and is chosen to provide interest during the summer months when the building is most in use. The flowering perennials create a relaxed and romantic frame when viewed from the garden. Varieties include Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’, Oenothera ‘Siskyou’, Penstemon ‘Port Wine’ and Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’. In time, it will be further enhanced by the scented backdrop of Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ behind, which will add height in proportion to the scale of the structure.
A bespoke table and built-in seat were also introduced to make it a space to enjoy for summer dining, perhaps on slightly windier, cooler, or damper days. Commanding elevated views right across the surrounding landscape, it provides a lovely focus from both the house and upper lawn.
In this country garden in Berkshire (below), a high Beech hedge blocking views into the garden was removed, revealing this original 1930s’ summerhouse. The client almost removed it, but we suggested retaining it and enhancing it by repainting it a pretty colour and planting old fashioned Roses to ramble up and cascade over it to give it a rustic and romantic feel, harmonising with the rural location. It ended up becoming a very well used playroom for their children.
Garden rooms that offer the best of indoors and out, allowing you to enjoy your garden while working or socialising, are often the most popular.
Over the course of the Pandemic, perhaps fuelled by a renewed interest in growing vegetables and the need to be closer to nature, we have seen more and more clients asking for glasshouses, using them as multi-functional spaces where they can immerse themselves in the garden outside. Both decorative and practical, they can provide the ultimate focus to a garden as well as a space to nurture and retreat to.
Of course, not all garden buildings need a function. The traditional folly, an ornamental building that was built for no other reason than to be picturesque, is still a wonderful way to introduce something whimsical and joyful to a large garden.
Whether you want something small and simple or grand and imposing, a garden building can bring charm to any garden.
This post was written by Nicholas Tripp – Director of Taylor Tripp.
Look out for our journal posts on large garden design covering:
Driveways and Entrances
Views & Borrowed Landscapes
Designing with Water
Designing with Trees
Gates & Archways