Garden designer and writer James Alexander-Sinclair is well-known for his stunning country gardens. But he has also designed some incredible town plots. He gives us a tour of three of his best designs.
The brief: Tricky project, this one. The house was divided into seven flats and houses and the garden was similarly divided: everybody had a chunk of the old walled garden. As a result there was no connection between the clients front door and the garden: to get there you had to cross the drive and wander through communal gardens before arriving. My clients wanted a bit of privacy.
The plants: I enclosed the garden with a tall yew hedge with a central paved octagon surrounded by a series of deep, box edged borders. These contained plants such as alliums, irises and lychnis.
The materials: The central part of the garden was reached by paths that jinked so as to prevent a straight view to the table and thus achieving a bit of secrecy. The paths are of gravel edged with timber clad in stainless steel: which gives interesting reflections and gives the gardener something to polish when bored.
The brief: Make a garden that had enough room for sitting, a bit of planting and looked marvellous from above as well as from ground level.
The materials: It was very tricky to build as space was so limited. The paving was laid very slightly on the angle – utilising the old trick of making the garden look a bit bigger by using the longest dimension – and bisected by a zig-zagging rill that is lit at night with blue LED lights and is perfect for sailing small boats. The fencing is of horizontal cedar slats that smell wonderful and age gracefully.
The plants: The main plants are a big Cornus kousa, a trained LIquidambar (that will,eventually, cover the end wall, a couple of Wisteria and the fabulous evergreen species rose Rosa laevigata Coopers Burmese. Under this are various grasses, ferns,bulbs and herbaceous plants.
The brief: I have been working on this garden for about six years now. We have divided the garden into separate but linked areas, and moved both the drive and transplanted a lime avenue. The different areas include: a pond garden with slightly asymmetric paths; a garden with beds a but like a spirograph pattern arranged around a circular lawn; a dining room garden; a lime and yew walk; a vegetable garden and a woodland.
The materials: Two ponds looking out over the Cotswolds. One is square and reflective, and the other octagonal with a tall jet. There is also a cruciform pond in the dining room garden.
The plants: Roses in the summerhouse garden, astilbes, box balls, lines of wavy cut box,and pleached limes above a yew hedge.
These are just some of the many incredible gardens that James has created. If you want to see more, and find out more about his work, visit his website.
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