Written Brief and Pictures Thornlea Farm, Derbyshire
The plot is located in UK hardiness zone 8
The garden was in a very poor state of neglect and was badly overgrown. Little had been
done in over 16 years. A broken wooden fence divided the domestic garden area from the
paddock to the end of the garden. A cesspit, still in use but submerged in undergrowth
created its own problems as once uncovered it was discovered the internal brick structure
was in a state of decay. This was rebuilt and reinforced with the introduction of RSJ's, a
recessed manhole cover and inspection chamber fitted. This is located on the lower terrace
and is now barely noticeable. Ventilation was rerouted in order to maintain the aesthetic
integrity of the project.
The clients wanted a garden designed that was in keeping with the surrounding landscape.
They also wanted a design that would be relatively low maintenance.
Surprisingly they admitted to being unaware of the views beyond the overgrown vegetation
and boundary trees. A number of other designers had visited the site, none of whom returned
after the initial visit.
On my first visit, I could see the potential in this unique setting. I quickly formed a vision of
how I could use reclaimed local materials, e.g. the natural local stone for dry stone wall raised
beds. Fortunately the clients owned a number of fields with demolished dry stone walls, which
we were able to salvage for the raised beds. Reclaimed York stone slabs for paths and
terraces were sourced locally. It was also my desire to reinforce the gardens relationship with
the broader landscape through the introduction of mixed native hedging and the small
wildflower meadow which had the added benefits of encouraging and supporting local wildlife.
Overall my aim was to introduce a sense of poetry and musicality through the use of colour
and texture further reinforcing the gardens relationship within its unique setting
Thornlea farm sits in a small hamlet in the peak district in Derbyshire, in a class 4 area of
outstanding natural beauty. The area is subject to strict landscape planning and conservation
laws, even moving the garden shed from its existing location required a planning application.
The field to the rear of the plot was classed as agricultural land and as such could not be
rezoned for domestic garden use. Existing trees to the field boundary foreshortened the view
to the wider landscape Applications were made for crown lifting to the perimeter trees to the
end of the plot in order to draw the surrounding landscape into the scheme.
The exiting shed was moved to a lower hard standing. A sedum roof installed to blend in and
provide insect and wildlife habitat whilst a coat of apple green paint softened its impact. The
seat on the lower terrace was constructed using an old oak beam leftover from the house
after some internal reconstruction works.
From the outset this commission required, indeed demanded a carefully considered approach
due to its unique and historic setting. By working closely with the local conservation and
planning department and specifying the use of local raw materials it was possible to create an
environmentally responsible landscape that also fulfilled the client’s needs and requirements.
The introduction of mixed native hedging further reduced the environmental impact whilst
from a design aspect helped to frame the view drawing the eye down the plot and on to the
To liase with the client and local authorities, assisting with applications for pertinent
permissions. To project manage