Removal of a mènage, an all weather horse training arena in this large Cambridgeshire garden led to the redesign of this part of the garden.

To save removal of the deep limestone base of the mènage it was proposed to utilise the free draining properties of the area and create a gravel garden. This would contrast with the main garden which is of heavy clay and is wet for much of the year due to it’s location at the base of a slope. The gravel garden would give an opportunity to grow many plants that would die out in the rest of the garden.

The scheme was designed around a newly built barn style oak and tile summer house and it was proposed that the gravel garden be a location away from the house for bbqs and parties. A large sandstone terrace was created with space for a large dining table and built in oak seating included for informal seating. A zig zag rill and small pool gave a location for the clients bronze sculpture and also brought the sound of moving water to this part of the garden.

Sweeping paths through naturalistic drought loving perennials and grasses were constructed of self binding limestone gravel and the beds of imported free draining loam were mulched with the same gravel. This gives the impression of walking through a natural planting and blurs the distinction between beds and paths. Self seeders will further blend the planting as they encroach onto rarely trodden paths.

To give a sense of drama, the two entrances to the gravel garden are through large green oak pergolas. These frame the view of the garden and give an element of separation to the gravel garden.