A Look at LCGD Graduate Luke Arend’s SGD Student Award Shortlisted Chilterns Garden

In Luke’s words

This garden was our penultimate project at college, and pretty much a dream client! It is a large 2-acre property, an extraordinary view at the end of the garden of rolling Chiltern Hills, a client who wants to ‘re-wild’ the garden, a full garden masterplan and a generous budget too…lovely!

The design concept is “Gnarly and smooth”.  This comes from textures from Buxus sempervirensancient woodlands, of which the largest in the country are found locally in the Chilterns.  I was fascinated with the awesome tangled gnarliness of the ancient Box trunks and branches, and how this contrasts starkly with the simple smooth elegance of their leaf structure.  This lent itself to a creative journey into a naturalistic richly planted garden where I could interplay gnarly forms with smooth elegant forms to create drama and interest in the garden, and I hope a bit of romance and enchantment.  The ‘gnarly and smooth’ theme was used spatially to form paths, borders and lawned areas, for hard landscaping choices as well as for the plant selection.

The existing garden was very much a garden of two halves, with the front garden being mature Beech and Oak woodland, with the year garden being a rather empty lawned void with an unused tennis court blocking the big view.  One of the joys of this project was to integrate the front and rear gardens using the gnarly and smooth theme.  I redesigned the driveway and parking and used the planned extension to have a central feature entrance, which linked the front and rear garden.

The client required a large terrace and entertaining area, as well as sports and adventure play for their children.  The final design incorporates two routes down the rear garden, which meander past the majestic Oak tree in the centre to reveal the dreamily romantic destination of a pond and deck, which overlooks the stunning views across the Chiltern Hills.

The planting brings in a number of trees, including a fruit orchard, Buxus sempervirens in repeated across the garden in various forms from formal clipped elegance, to shaggier forms to it natural gnarly self.  There is a dry hot showpiece border near the house where the client’s entertain, a wildflower meadow in the central garden area and cool-hued marginal planting around the pond.

Our thanks to Luke for supplying the image of the garden.