SAM McGOWAN - GARDEN DESIGN IN SCOTLAND        
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Dunblane
Howgate
Langbank
Loch Tay
Penicuik

BeforeAfter

Description of site:

The site was the garden ground surrounding a new detached house in a quiet estate on the northern edge of the town of Dunblane. The general lie of the land is that of a north-west facing slope and a thick belt of young trees to the west ensures good protection from prevailing winds particularly since the estate lies in a hollow. The house itself gives some protection from moderate exposure to north-easterlies although there may be localised problems caused by the wind-tunnel effect between neighbouring houses. Although the land drains away to the north-west and so avoids the possibility of a major frost pocket, the slope to the south will cut out a lot of winter sun and it was necessary to beware of damming the flow of cold air within the garden.

The rear garden ground is awkward in shape and slopes towards the house from the south and away from the house to the west. The garden ground had been built up with imported topsoil and there was the possibility of some erosion on the western boundary. Because the garden faces north this means that the sunniest part of the garden is at the furthest point from the kitchen and living room. This sloping ground also meant that there was little privacy since the garden is overlooked by close-by houses and a public footpath which runs close to the property and screening was required to the south and south-west.

The soil appeared to contain a mixture of clay and silt and required the addition of organic matter to make it more workable.

There were good views to the valley on the north-west side although a sewage pumping station had to be screened. The building contractor had planted the area outside the boundary fence to the west with a woodland edge mixture which may reach 5 metres in height unless the local authority cuts it back on a regular basis (highly unlikely given current local authority budget restraints). However, this mixture is deciduous and will allow filtered views out in winter. It could be ‘borrowed’ as part of the garden vegetation and will help with screening (probably its design purpose since it lies between the footpath and the property). There is a strip of grass 3 to 4 metres wide (presumably over a service duct) running along the south-west boundary.

Client's brief:

The client is a keen amateur gardener and so there was no necessity for low maintenance as a priority since she intended to spend a lot of time working in the garden. The clients were happy to carry out a proportion of the work themselves, in particular that associated with planting and had major input to plant choice. They are fairly ‘traditional’ in their garden taste and their taste in general tends towards tranquillity and subtle restraint. Colours preferred are to the blue end of the spectrum in terms of flower colour, avoiding oranges and orange-reds. They were very keen to enhance the feeling of living on the edge of the countryside and therefore the view into the valley had to be treated with care and emphasised. The garden had to  “blend with its surroundings”. They wanted areas to sit, particularly in the sunniest part of the garden and close to the kitchen door.

Things particularly requested were:

1. Water running down the slope and into a wildlife pond (this depended on budget).

2. A combined storage shed and greenhouse (timbered).

3. Gravel paths round the house to allow access to windows etc.

4. Screening for privacy and to hide the sewage pumping station.

5. Some lawn.

6. A patio area large enough for a table and six chairs.

7. A coal bunker close to the rear of the garage.

8. Compost heaps.

 Planting beside patio

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Last modified:30th January 2011

Copyright Sam McGowan 2011