Oxfordshire Manor House

This tiny hamlet in Oxfordshire boasts 'the best and certainly the most picturesque large timber-framed house in the county' (Pevsner). This is a wonderfully romantic old house, dating from the late 15th century and partly surrounded by a moat. The existing garden had been designed along very formal Elizabethan lines, with parterres, topiary and Yew hedges.

My client wanted to introduce a more relaxed, informal feel to the garden to echo the rambling architecture of the house. We kept some of the Yew hedges but opened them up to allow views through to the tiny church at the bottom of the garden. We took out the parterres and redesigned the borders, planting them with an exuberant mix of perennials and grasses. My client was keen to keep cars away from the stunning west façade of the house, while encouraging guests to discover it on foot. So we created an elliptical bed between the house and the driveway, with a broad footpath leading to the back door, and on to provide a dramatic approach to the west terrace, with views opening out of the wide lawns, deep planting beds and wood fringed fields beyond.

There is a collection of early 19th century farm buildings to the north of the house, one of which was converted into a pool barn, with an adjoining swimming pool. To give this area a sense of privacy we enclosed it on three sides by a Cotswold stone wall, with pleached Hornbeam trees planted around the pool terrace. There are openings in the walls to allow views out to the fields where we planted groups of native trees. The pool itself is planted with 'Umbrella' trained Pin Oaks, which provide shade and cast delicate patterns on the York stone paving. A wildflower meadow with meandering grass paths links the house with the pool.