Mark and his wife Jane have enjoyed their early 20th-century home near Leek since the 1980s. The steeply sloping front garden is approached via a single track road and the site faces east to fantastic views of the Peak District. With a sunny aspect, it was just the right spot for growing vegetables. 

What They Did

  • Eased access by changing a steep slope into a series of terraces and steps with low risers
  • Wrapped the garden with planting for summer and winter interest, together with a vegetable patch in the middle
  • Used the support and shelter of the garage wall for a lean-to greenhouse
  • Integrated retaining walls for the terracing with the greenhouse and bin store structures
  • Used semi-circular and five sided pivotal landings to adjust the steps’ alignment for visual tricks of symmetry

The Greenhouse

The steps that led through the garden to the front door were very steep and beginning to crumble, so it was time to reshape the garden and, in doing so, make room for a greenhouse and vegetable patch.

“It all started with the greenhouse,” designer Jacquetta Menzies recalls. Needing sunlight, shelter and a convenient position near the herbaceous and vegetable beds, the best spot was abutting the garage to make better use of the dead space here and tapping into the water and electricity supply.

Next to the greenhouse are mixed plantings of herbaceous perennials and shrubs for colourful summer blooms and now, as you approach the house, there’s a sense of walking through the planting.

Terracing

The main front garden incline has been rearranged into a series of terraces, with a more-or-less square potager flanked by a winter interest border, visible from inside the house. Even the roof of the bin shed is planted too.

“In this layout, a half-circle is a very useful feature — laid at the top of the new steps, just below the existing terrace and retaining wall by the house.” That semi-circle (a Millstone Radius from Stonemarket) ties in with the existing walling stone.

“Nothing was parallel, so I used various little tricks to pivot the paths, giving the impression that they were all neatly aligned into a grid,” explains Jacquetta.

Materials

The devil is in the detail, and the success of any garden project lies in the quality of materials and the contractor’s workmanship.

  • The trellis, greenhouse and surround for the bin store are all made in matching cedar which is both stylish and durable
  • The bricks and tiles for the new walls and paving have been locally sourced; Staffordshire is rich in clay pits
  • To complement the specification, the steps were installed with stainless steel handrails and flanges for LED lights

The overall impression is a formal potager within the natural landscape.

Images by Jill Jennings

Landscape contractor Phil Wilcox: design-scape.co.uk
Design Jacquetta Menzies: jacquettamenzies.co.uk

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