A contemporary design garden with a natural swimming pool

Winner of Homes & Garden 2021 Best Garden Reader Awardthis garden achieves the harmonious balance between the architecture and the exterior setting, which is best achieved when they are designed simultaneously.

With the architectural plans for the house on the drawing board, the ambitious and cohesive design of the garden was formulated, with shared ambitions regarding style, space, function and materials.

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natural swimming pool design

pol natural garden area with surrounding planting

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

Central to the entire design was the concept of a formal, geometric yet natural swimming pool idea, strategically in line with the architecture and using the same materials of the house.

Garden designer Anthea Harrison was challenged to come up with a plan that elevates the status of the pool to make it the main feature of the garden.

“Aesthetically more ‘classic water feature idea’ than swimming pool, this reflective dual-purpose water feature creates apparent movement as clouds cross the sky, its mirrored glass face magically bounces shards of light directly into the house”, reveals the owner. Joe Carter.

garden swimming pool patio with channel and springboards

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

Working with the sloping contours of the garden

summer garden with a rich tapestry of textured verdant plantings

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

On a more practical level, the need to filter, clean and recirculate water became part of the design.

‘The pebble-filled swales are dramatically stepped to match the natural contours of the sloping garden and draw water, by gravity, through the garden into a semi-circular filtration pool cleverly disguised by purifying reeds and species of water. Iris pseudocorus,’ explains Anthea.

garden path along a ditch with planting

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

A cascading clean-cut path follows the geometry of the water-filled creek to a circular seating area and fire pit beneath mature Blue Atlas cedar, Atlantic cedrus ‘Glauca’.

A rich tapestry of textured verdant plantings are quilted with white major astrantiablue sibiric iris ‘Caesars Brother’, purple Salvia nemerosa ”Ostfriesland’, linden-flowered lady’s mantle, Alchemilla mollis.

The rest of the garden pivots around this complex and aesthetically pleasing water system, with key elements located for convenience, appearance and views.

A garden in harmony with its environment

summer garden planted with birches, perennials and grasses

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

The overall plan was to transform the 3.5-acre grass-filled plot, while cherishing majestic ancient trees and sweeping views of open countryside.

“We wanted to create an intimate garden, in harmony with our natural surroundings, with different levels or spaces where we could enjoy solitude, relax, bathe or swim and entertain comfortably,” explains owner Jo Carter.

A rich tapestry of textured verdant planting blends into the landscape beyond.

tree-lined promenade garden with naturalistic planting

(Image credit: Annaick guitteny)

An informal earthen garden path idea runs through the tree-lined promenade garden. Right here Acer platanoides’Princeton Gold‘ and white-legged silver birch, Betula utilis jacquemontii are under planted with shade-tolerant perennials, including Iris ‘Cliffs of Dover’sibiric iris ‘Caesar’s Brother’, purple-spirea Salvia caradonna, Veronicastrum lavenderturm.

The naturalistic planting design includes waves of Euphorbia wulfenii and fountain grasses, Stipa tenuissima, Molinia caerulea subspecies. Arundinace ‘Transparent’ and Stipa gigantica.

Formal and informal planting areas

summer garden with garden path along a stream

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

A subtle change of key ensures that the more formal landscaping and planting near the house becomes increasingly informal as the gardens drift outward to sit comfortably against the backdrop of the countryside. peripheral.

The chiselled stone terraces and steps around the pool and gutter garden are replaced by winding paths in the promenade garden.

garden path along the stream and surrounded by informal plantings

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

Structural blocks of clipped yew hedges in the upper garden give way to more decorative yew topiary domes, nestled among ornamental grasses and mounding perennials.

Using Screens to Create “Parts”

corten steel screens in the garden next to the swimming pool

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

The area has been loosely divided using garden screening ideas to create ‘open’ rooms, airy spaces, artfully divided using decorative laser cut or solid Corten steel screens.

screens among planting in a summer garden

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

The screens gently hold back the more formal elements of the garden while channeling the view to specific focal points or garden views.

Ideally placed outdoor living spaces

summer garden with outdoor seating area

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

Through clever use of garden zoning, the outdoor kitchen, outdoor dining areas and lounging and viewing areas are conveniently and compatibly placed close to the house.

natural pool area next to a raised terrace for seating

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

The large raised terrace, overlooking the swimming pool and the wider garden, provides plenty of entertaining, large or small. A double row of young planes provide dappled shade for diners, replacing the planned trio of mulberry trees that “failed” at the task.

Successive flower planting for a long season of interest

blue and white plantation of salvias, irises and astrantia

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

The Summer Garden teems with a gargantuan array of 5,000 seasonal and successional plants.

“The scale of the planting is huge,” reveals Anthea, delighted that the owners have insisted on voluminous stretches of planting instead of the more usual stretches of grass. “The initial brief was for low maintenance garden border ideas, but the sheer volume of plants requires the full time attention of a gardener,” says Jo.

“The garden is constantly evolving as we make our own mark, introducing new flowering plants where a few original plants have failed.”

abundant planting in a summer garden

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

The extent, intensity and style of the planting seem to absorb and cushion the weight of the hard landscaping elements. As a result, an exquisite tapestry of texture, shape and color rolls seamlessly outward from the home, wrapping around a variety of seating areas designed to catch the rising noon or setting sun.

Different planting color palettes

summer garden planted with warm colored flowers

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

Jo drove the striking color layering, with different garden color schemes for each zone.

Bright, intense reds, oranges and yellows color the “warm edges” closest to the house, while softer, softer tones, blues and white adorn the plantings farther away.

The overall result is a beautifully designed garden, perfectly designed for solitude or sharing.

summer garden with natural swimming pool

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

How to Successfully Incorporate Key Garden Design Elements

Planter Anthea Harrison shares tips on how to incorporate key elements into the garden with minimal impact.

  • Plan the location of seating and lounging areas before landscaping – push seating areas back, recessing them, integrating them into the actual design space, rather than projecting outward onto walkways and the terraces.
  • Understand the movement of sun and shade in your garden and position seating accordingly.
  • Choose simple, low furniture that complements the contemporary style and lines of the landscaping – in this design, a minimalist geometric sofa and coffee table blend with the cobblestones.
  • Dress up with cushions of colors to complement the surrounding planting – greens and purple, orange would also work.
  • Conceal unsightly but desirable features; a large square hot tub is understated, discreetly buried in front of the low boxwood hedge, its cover resembles the stone pavers
  • Choose garden buildings that blend into the garden; the rectangular pool house, fits perfectly into the bend of a yew hedge, its lighter sage green paint reflects the dominant silver grey/green of the neighboring plantation.
  • Divert the eye and tone down the effect by surrounding but not concealing entertaining areas with mounds of lush, abundant flowering perennials and grasses.
  • Use living walls and decorative filigree screens to enhance privacy and create shelter.
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