I was honoured to be invited to undertake the design and construction of this prestigious project. I began work when the site was just rough paddocks with a few boundary pegs, and completed the project 2 years later. The design took a year, during which time I spent hundreds of hours consulting with the owners, sourcing and purchasing hundreds of large grade trees and thousands of other plants.
The owners wanted the gardens to look 100 years old from the day the landscaping finished, and to have year round colour and interest from a wide variety of trees. The scale of the project was huge; around 10 acres of intense landscaping, both around the buildings and the expansive grounds. The Palladian style architecture necessitated that I keep the landscaping very structured and formal close to the buildings, and I gradually created a more informal style as the gardens moved away from the central residence. The owners enjoyed croquet, golf, and petanque, so I designed a full size croquet lawn to be a central feature of the landscaping, which provides a beautifully structured form, with appropriate scale, to fully complement the size and architecture of their home. Below this is a putting green and driving area for golf, and the triangular petanque court is close to the outdoor dining area. A swimming pool and tennis courts needed to be private but easily accessible, and a special request was an island with a `Monet’ bridge as access. The small streams running either side of the grounds, were turned into ponds with weirs, and an island was built in one of them. The island has a fire pit with log seating, so that the stars can be seen in the clear night sky.
A specification was that only white flowering species be used in the main garden areas, and in the structural plantings, although the `river bed’ and pergolas have some apricot and blue flowering plants.
I sourced Marlborough schist rock for dry stone walling at the entrances to the property, and this gives age, solidity and graciousness to the grounds. Fortunately I found a skilled stonemason to construct the walls, and they remain a feature of the landscaping.
One of the most important and challenging features of this project, was for me to employ and liase with a wide range of people…geo-tech engineers, builders, architects, electricians, earthworks contractors, irrigation specialists, greenkeepers,and numerous others. I had my own staff, but I contracted or employed more than 70 separate companies to complete the project.
This was a `once in a lifetime’ commission, that I feel very privileged to have undertaken. It was completed in December 1999, and it has become the `100 year old’ estate that the owners requested.