These three images, taken from the same spot, show the development of a simple and easily-maintained garden. The garden when first seen (bottom) was an almost impenetrable mass of overgrown conifers and scrubby shrubs, the shrub layer ailing in the dark and dry conditions created by the trees. What had once been lawn had become a patch of scruffy and uneven grass with a weaving line of loose bricks and rubble holding back the soil from a slightly higher level at the far end of the garden. The proximity of the trees to the house closed off the rear part of the garden and blocked light and views of the nearby cathedral.
By clearing the garden of everything but the one cherry tree that had any merit, the space has been opened up to allow for a gravel terrace at the far end, positioned to catch the evening sun. A light screen of the wonderful Himalayan birch (Betula utilis var. jaquemontii 'Doorenbos') permits views of the cathedral whilst giving a sense of privacy. The change in level has been formalised with a brick step across the site, and the remaining planting, shown one month after completion (top), uses dramatic blocks of evergreen shrubs and grasses to provide contrast and further define the space. Within a couple of years the clipped shapes of the yew and laurel will provide a graphic counterpoint to the sea of soft grasses from which they emerge. The remaining ornamental planting relies on scented drought-tolerant varieties, including herbs of both decorative and culinary value.