As I mentioned in the last post, we’ve been working in Ashbourne installing a garden we’ve designed. If you’ve never been, I can recommend it, as it’s a lovely market town in the Derbyshire Dales. On a whim, we once bought a kitchen table from the market place, and drove it home to London, strapped to the roof of the car.

But apart from its stock of rustic kitchen furniture, Ashbourne is most famous for its Royal Shrovetide Football match. If you don’t know it, imagine 400-500 people rampaging through the town for two days over a pitch which is 3 miles long. There’s about as much skill and finesse involved as England displayed in South Africa last weekend. Rules are few, the most critical being that committing murder or manslaughter is prohibited.

The two teams are called Up’Ards and Down’Ards, and the team you’re in is dependent on where in the town you were born. Our clients are on the Up’Ards side of town.

Ashbourne is bisected by the River Henmore, and the town rises either side of the river on a steeply sloping valley. And on the north side of the valley lies the garden we’re installing.

I’ll be saving a full write up of the garden for when it’s finished, but here’s a sneak preview:


The gradient of the garden, which rises from the back of the house, is 18%, or a rise of 1.8m over a 10m length. To tame this, and provide the lawn, patio, planting areas, space for a greenhouse and improved privacy, we designed a scheme which sliced the slope into eight distinct levels. We cut into the existing retaining wall near the house to accommodate a series of wide elliptical sandstone steps, which lead to a small paved circle. From there a paved path leads around the lawn area to a larger paved patio. Further levels are created with raised planting beds, and the scheme is held together with curved walls built from new log sleepers laid on their ends. We also replaced the fencing on three sides of the garden.

It is always tricky to illustrate slopes using photographs, as they tend to foreshorten everything, but here is one side of the garden before we started.

Much more detail, including the planting, will appear in our gallery shortly.