For their historic home in the enclave of Clifton in Bristol, UK, an energetic couple wanted an informal landscape where their grandchildren and dogs could romp with a focus on biodiversity and sustainability. They called on landscape architecture firm
Artisan Landscapes to design a dream garden, but the firm recognized that the grand Georgian-style home imposed a degree of formality on its landscape that couldn’t be ignored. As a compromise, they kept the classic formal courtyard layout and overlaid “soft, naturalistic meadow planting” to fulfill the clients’ desires for an environmentally friendly landscape that remains sensitive to the location.
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Photography courtesy of
Artisan Landscapes. Above: “The homeowners are lucky enough to have both a front and a back garden,” say the architects, “so we could devote the entire back garden to ‘garden,’ while the front garden has a large lawn for the dogs and grandkids, a greenhouse, and informal borders of vegetables intermingled with perennials.”
The back garden, they say, is a more intimate space, “although the grandchildren love whirling about the paths.”
Above: The sunken octagon is a focal point of the garden but was also one of the more challenging features to install. “There was a one-meter-thick piece of limestone bedrock located under it that had to be removed to install drainage,” say the architects. Before Above: The courtyard had a generous footprint, but the neglected landscape was uninspiring. After Above: An antique urn is a focal point in the garden. For more inspiration, see Landscaping: 8 Ideas to Add Antiques Artfully to Any Garden. Above: A long, slim reflecting pool is one of two major water features in the project. “They have a combined volume of five thousand cubic liters,” say the architects, and both are controlled by pumps on remote-control switches. Above: Salvia surrounds the pool. For everything you need to know about growing it, see Salvia: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Above: Adding the water features “took a considerable amount of engineering and planning,” but it was worth it for the calming effect they have on the entire landscape. Above: A row of antique copper spouts feed into the fountain. Above: A row of pleached hornbeam trees adds structure to the perimeter.
Landscaping 101: Pleached Trees for tips to grow and train hornbeams and crabapple trees. Above: Astilbe softens the edges of the concrete pavers. The stones were existing and not the designers’ first choice for material, “but they’ve weathered beautifully with age,” they say. Above: “The homeowners love sitting out together, wandering about the garden, and spending time gardening there.”
Laying out a new garden or updating a hardscape element in an existing landscape? Start with our curated guides to
Garden Design 101, including Decks & Patios and Fences & Gates. More inspiring courtyards: