Helen Elks-Smith's commission was to create a garden that seamlessly flows around a modernist house, with an old walled garden designed with grasses and water in Hampshire. At 2,400 square metres, it has free-draining, moisture-retentive loam, tilled by generations of estate gardeners. The climate is mild southern English, with a USDA 9 hardiness zone. Here are five things to learn from her designs. Words by Kendra Wilson
1) Highs and lows
2) Muted tones
The muted reds of Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’ and Anemanthele lessoniana, and blue foliage of Santolina chamaecyparissus echo the weathered brick, which along with the wider countryside sets the tone for the garden’s colour palette. Greens are used in broad brush strokes, while seedheads add warm tones and further texture to a pleasantly low-maintenance scene.
3) Changing levels
Although the ground slopes from the swimming pool towards the bedrooms, Helen has avoided using traditional stairs or terracing. Decking connects both spaces, stacked in blocks as low seating, or used as chunky steps.
4) Private areas
Private areas are mapped out with individual gardens outside each windowed room, or with water, or both. This canal-like pond outside the study is the width of the window, with narrow, upright planting between water and wall. Although there are no barriers from the rest of the garden, it is defined as a private space.
5) Green routes
More images from the Hampshire garden
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