Willow Barns, Cheshire

The design of two large, rear gardens associated with a barns conversion project in Brereton, Cheshire.

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The client, a private property developer, was in the process of creating two luxury properties within an original Cheshire barn and wished to build attractive gardens that would add value to the development and create a unique selling point for prospective buyers.

The brief was to produce a full detailed design for each garden, incorporating several key features, a generous natural stone patio for dining and entertaining, a simple water feature, ornamental planting areas and a lawn.  In addition, the style of the gardens had to be in character with the location and setting of the barn, facing onto open countryside and each was to be detailed to a high specification, to complement the refurbishment of the properties.

Both gardens have a natural sequence of spaces, adding visual interest and creating different activity areas.  At the start of the gardens the raised patios, bounded by curved brick walls, have a courtyard feel and form a natural transition to the ground floor reception rooms.  Stepping down you enter a softer planted zone, with a modern gravel garden and organic, prairie style planting in one garden and billowing herbaceous borders edged with box hedging in the second.  As you reach the lower end of the garden, views merge with the open countryside and a sweeping formal lawn is combined with islands of soft meadow grass and groups of native trees in a relaxed, naturalistic style.

Special architectural details in the barn are picked out in the design, for example the distinctive round windows reflected in the curved steps, circular water features and raised planting beds.  The palette of materials is traditional and restrained.  Warm red Cheshire brickwork has been used in the construction of boundary walls and raised planters and this is complemented by sandstone paving in buff shades and granite setts for special detailing, such as around the water features.