I first contacted Chris in 2005. I was coming up to retirement and I wanted to spend more time gardening but the gardens of our 1930s house were dilapidated. Ann (pictured) & I had been looking to move house but like where we live. We decided instead to upgrade house and garden.
It is an awkward corner site with slopes and clay soil. Old steps were collapsing and there were no level areas to sit, I wanted more interesting modern varieties of plants, less grass to mow and hedges to cut, to keep maintenance down as we get older. We asked Chris to come and see us for an initial consultation, and we decided right away that she was the right person for us to work with; it was a matter of either doing it well or going at it 'half-cock' and not being satisfied.
Chris was keen to spend a lot of time taking our brief to make sure that the garden would be what we wanted. We asked her to make it contemporary (but not too contemporary!) we particularly like contrasts: curves and straight lines, smooth and textured, lush green with hot oranges, reds and yellows. We like water and gravel and were happy to experiment when Chris suggested trying using green oak cubes to run water through. Chris worked with the landscapers until the last plant was in the ground and helped for several years with advice about establishment and maintenance.
The garden was very successful, we continue to get a great deal of pleasure from it many years later, and it received many accolades and awards.
We went went up on stage with Chris at the BALI award ceremony at the Park Lane Hilton in 2007 and were presented the Principal Award for Landscape Design Excellence by Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen. The judges comments were:
'This is an extremely confident design responding very well to the awkward angles, slope and position of the garden. An impressive piece of work well deserving of this award.....the strange shape and complicated levels were turned to advantage with a beautifully conceived and drawn design that makes excellent use of space.'
The awards sponsor said 'This design showed the kind of flair innovation and practicality that should inspire garden design professionals everywhere.' It then won other awards and was featured in national magazines and the local press. We have been pleased to open the garden for charity to Friends of the Botanical Gardens and the Hardy Plant Society.
For us the proof is in the pudding; we still love the garden. It is calming, good for wildlife and soothes the soul.