Dan started working at this Grade II listed Jacobean manor house in Warwickshire in 1995, when the owners commissioned a traditional English country house garden with a bold, contemporary aesthetic.
The formal character of the manor is set off by generously proportioned hard landscaping in a series of garden enclosures that have been designed in response to the different growing conditions on site, and provide contrasting experiences around the property. The classic English country house garden tradition has been treated confidently and playfully, making much of the contrast between formality and informality.
The manor house has a strong and formal character which required a restrained yet dynamic landscaping treatment to set it off. The original walled garden enclosures immediately created distinct areas for planting, each with its own microclimate and mood, which was identified and maximised.
The gardens comprise a walled productive garden, a silver and white garden, a formal lime walk, a rose garden with box parterre, a lavender walk, a canal, nuttery and wildflower meadow, a pair of fiery herbaceous borders, a wind garden of grasses, a new ha-ha and a relandscaped wildlife pond.
To subvert the English country garden tradition a series of unexpected games are played with the spaces: formal topiary forms are allowed to grow freely and uncustomarily large; the planting in the silver and white garden is soft, subdued and tasteful all year, but is dramatically announced by the combination of deep purple irises and primary red poppies that appear in late spring; the ‘traditional’ herbaceous borders are planted with a simple yet shocking combination of red, yellow and orange flowering perennials and shrubs, a vibrant take on the Edwardian borders they mimic, while in the vegetable garden the clients’ request for topiary resulted in the creation of giant apples, carrots, aubergines, leeks and pumpkins out of box.
Further away from the buildings the garden is allowed to bleed out into the landscape, which is treated naturally, always with the intention of creating a better environment for local wildlife and making as gentle a mark on the land as possible.
Photographs: James Kerr, Nicola Browne and Marcus Harpur