Classic and Contemporary Garden Designs

23Sep, 2019

A Mediterranean Garden Design and Build, North Norfolk

  • By Richard Walters
  • 23 Sep 2019
  • Projects

I completed a lovely Mediterranean garden design and build project earlier this year nearby Holt in North Norfolk.  The requirement was to create a modern patio area and wildlife friendly Mediterranean style garden. Hopefully this blog article will be interesting for anyone looking to put in a similar garden.

After meeting with the Clients, David and Helen, I noted their specific requirements and provided a budgetary cost for an indicative project. They were happy to go ahead, at which point I surveyed the garden, measuring the layout and all existing structures. This included the existing decking patio and other hard landscaping.  We also removed existing unwanted trees (a diseased apple tree and an unattractive pine tree).

View of Bodham house before garden update
Back garden looking dull and boring.
The garden looking beautiful in June the following year.
Photo of summerhouse before pergola
View of the summerhouse (late winter 2019)
Photograph in June 2020
View of the Summerhouse and new steps (June 2020)

Mediterranean Garden Design in Norfolk

A garden design is often the first requirement in this type of project and so it was here. Whilst David and Helen had a good idea of what they were after, it was up to me to formalise this.  Mediterranean garden designs work very well in Norfolk as they suit our often sandy soil and dry climate.  Mediterranean gardens in coastal houses work especially well.  They are also usually fairly low maintenance, which is often a welcome aspect of a new garden design.

The first activity onsite was to do the survey.  I  measured the area, recorded all hard and soft landscape features and took plenty of photographs.  Using a pH meter I tested the acidity of the soil.

I then produced a ‘Moodboard’ by listening carefully to David and Helen.  This was actually a collection of easily viewed photographs on Pinterest. I moved on to the next stage when we had a great concept garden design.

At this point it’s down to pencil and paper to work out the basics of the garden design.  This included where to place the seating area and the water feature as well as the shape and size of the lawn. I produced a separate planting plan showing large palms and shrubs and perennials.  Then I transposed the garden design onto computer using Vectorworks to produce 2D and 3D illustrations (see flythrough below).

Propsoed hard landscaping design for the Mediterranean garden
The proposed hard landscaping layout for the new garden
Proposed planting plan for the Mediterranean garden at Bodham

Landscaping and Turf Removal

We used the mini digger to lift the existing hard landscaping whilst a turf cutter made short work of removing the large lawn. To replace soil lost during ground elder removal we added a mix of top soil and well rotted manure.  Before this we loosened the soil using a rotavator to allow the new planting to thrive.

See the photographs below showing me and Matt working hard in all weather!

Richard Walters on teh mini digger and Matt helpoing to dig out the ground elder
Richard Walters emptying the skip dumper
Richard and Matt moving soil in the rain
Richard Walters moving top soil across the muddy garden

Creating a New Lawn

Although lawns aren’t usually included in a traditional Mediterranean garden design, the Clients were keen on including this aspect. I was very happy to oblige as a well tended area of grass can be a beautiful addition to any garden.  We decided that a perfectly oval lawn, with a boundary of small pavers would work well.

Around the lawn we placed topiary box cones to add formality. This would mix very well with the informal nature of the rest of the garden.

Oval lawn with paver edging and box topiary around the edge
The new oval lawn with paver edging

Seating Area and Water Feature

David and Helen were very keen on having a seating area and a water feature. We placed the seating area in the west facing corner of the garden for evening sun.  The water feature was located in a direct line down the lawn and also immediately in front of the living area in the house.  This meant it could be seen easily from both the seating area and the main living room.  The sound of the water could be easily heard from the patio area.

Photograph showing seating area looking down lawn to water feature
The view from the corner seating area with the water feature at the end

Setting Out

Although we were working to a careful plan, the actual setting of the plants is always subject to tweaking and moving area. With so many plants (see the planting list at the end) this was quite a job in itself!

We decided to add membrane for extra security where the areas of ground elder had been worst. We also dug in a 2 foot barrier membrane along the perimeter of each hedge.  Finally we added a 3 foot rabbit hedge as rabbits were a local problem.

Setting out the pots before planting
View of the Mediterranean plants
Mediterranean planting in the new garden

Planting Out

Planting out is usually the final and most fun part of the job.  I always dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot. I also advise adding bonemeal mixed with top soil to the bottom of the hole.  Plants should be well soaked in water for at least an hour before planting to ensure that the roots are completely saturated before planting.

Finishing Touches

We added gravel mulch to the entire area, to finish off the project, including the area around the patio, and the house boundary. Adding sleeper steps and a Client supplied trellis (later to include a couple of climbers) were the final touches to a very enjoyable project.

Trellis with sleeper steps
The new sleeper steps with the added trellis in place
View of the new garden towards the outside shed
Box topiary. salvia and the oval lawn in the new garden

Early summer 2020

In June 2020 I went to see David and Helen to see how the garden was going.  I was so pleased to see that it looked absolutely wonderful – great credit to the owners for tending to the garden so carefully.  It was really satisfying to see how alive it was with bees and butterflies and dragonflies.  The lawn in the centre of the garden provided a relaxing green space and played well with the blues and purples of the salvias and nepetas amongst many others.  Have a look at the photos below and judge for yourself.

Mediterranean garden with salvias and lawn
A Mediterranean garden (Holt)
Dorycnium, verbena and Trachycarpus
View across the lawn with Verbena and Dorycnium in the foreground,
Richard Walters and Clients in their new Mediterranean garden
Visiting the Clients David and Helen in their garden in June 2020 (socially distant, of course!)

Client Testimonial

Overall it was a very successful and enjoyable job, with very good feedback from great Clients, David and Helen.

It’s been a really great experience working with Richard right through from initial discussions of a design brief through to completion of the works. He is a committed, very knowledgeable, and thoroughly conscientious worker who really gives attention to detail. He has been especially very accommodating and patient with us as our requirements evolved over the process! We are so pleased with our lovely new Mediterranean garden not just with its appearance but also in relation to the wildlife we are now seeing, particularly butterflies. We would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone”.

See this review and many others from happy customers on Trustpilot/RW Gardens

Palms and Shrubs

David and Helen were keen on plants that suited a Mediterranean style, therefore we chose palms and other shrubs.  These included Cordylines, Trachycarpus and Chamaerops with a particularly spiky Dasylirion serratifolium for that added wow factor.  Shrubs included Dorycnium hirsutum, Fatsia japonica (for the shady area), Phormiums and a number of Callistemon ‘Hot Pinks’ and Cistus (purpureus and ‘Alan Judd’). We also included Abbotswood Fuchsias and a Ceanothus ‘Skylark’.  Two highly scented Philadelphus were planted either side of the seating area, whilst a winter scented Daphne was positioned close to the patio area.  Finally, three Rosmarinus prostratus were planted so as to cascade over the front wall.

Taverham Garden Centre and Sandy Lane Ltd supplied the shrubs.

Perennials, Grasses and Ferns

Together we chose perennials that were largely cool and light colours; blues, whites, purples and pinks, often with silvery foliage.  They included Achillea ‘Inca Gold’ and ‘Lachsschonheit’, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, Ballota pseudodictamnus, Bellis perennis, Calamintha ‘White Cloud’, Dianthus ‘Devon Wizard’, Erigeron ‘Schneewittchen’ (Snow White), Helichrysum ‘Schwefellicht’, Lavandula ‘Little Lady’ and L. angustifolia, Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and N. x faaseni, Salvia Amistad and S. nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’, Santolina incana, Stachys byzantine, Verbena bonariensis and Verbascum ‘Gainsborough’.

The grasses included Miscanthus ‘Zebrinus’, Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’, Panicum ‘Shenandoah’, Pennisetum ‘Red Head’ and Stipa giganteum.  Howard Nurseries supplied all the perennials.

The desired aim was for the plants to grow together to form an informal effect with paths through to the seating area.  Some plants will grow more vigorously than others over time, creating a dynamic and changing garden. To keep the garden looking wonderful throughout the year, only periodic ‘editing’ (and little weeding) will be required.

Contact me for your own Garden Design and Build

Would you like your own garden transformed into a Mediterranean style garden, or maybe you prefer a Classic English garden.  Perhaps you prefer a contemporary Arts and Crafts garden, or maybe you have a shady back garden to transform.  Please contact me today for a consultation and quote whatever your garden requirements.  I also perform small scale hard landscaping such as laying patios, erecting pergolas, building raised beds and installing ponds.

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