Contemporary Cotswold cottage garden design


This period property on the border of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire had been lovingly restored and improved, but lacked a garden of comparable beauty that would complement and enhance it. The owners wanted a design that incorporated contemporary garden design ideas which created visual and emotional impact, but was sympathetic to the rustic character of the building and its environment. Whilst having a ‘designer look’, they also wanted parts of the garden to have a natural, ‘earthy’ feel; incorporating natural rock and some Mediterranean planting. Our brief for the garden design was also to include multiple seating areas and interesting views from different parts of the garden and a naturalistic water feature with the sound of running water as well as to somehow make use of the well that existed within the property. The owners were also keen gardeners who wanted a smaller area of lawn and larger areas of planting.


Our design for this garden blended some contemporary design elements with traditional materials and detailing to create a strong connection between the house and garden. The main features of this garden design were:

  • The terrace and main path constructed from graphite coloured clay pavers forming sweeping curves that related to a curved boundary wall. These small Van De Mortel pavers were reminiscent of cobbles, but the colour and sleek pattern they were laid in created a more contemporary feel.
  • 2 circular lawns, one with a stepping stone path running part the way round, together with a curved bench, continued the use of curves within the design, but with additional straight paths that cut into these to add drama and overall direction to the garden.
  • A naturalistic water feature with a stream that ran into a reflecting pool. This area of the garden included large boulders of Cotswold stone to link with the stone used throughout the property and to create a sense of drama and feeling that the garden had always been there. Water was pumped to the top of the stream via a filter system to maintain clear water, through which native fish could be seen swimming in the pool.
  • New trees that were of sufficient maturity to add instant impact, many of which were multi-stem specimens that had a lovely architectural shape and offered glimpsed views, through their trunks, to other parts of the garden. Some of these trees were evergreen – Pines, Olives and Arbutus – providing year-round structure and continuing the mediteranean feel.
  • A new sun terrace – constructed from a composite charred timber decking, which harmonised with the clay pavers, and again combined a rustic and contemporary aesthetic. Within the decking we built a glass cover for the well that sat flush with the deck, could be walked over, and was lit at night to give a dramatic view right to the bottom of the well.
  • A feature wall – inset into a boundary hedge, which combined the charred timber decking and a Corten Steel ornamental panel. This panel was formed from an organic branch structure that linked with the twisted stems of the multi stem trees.
  • A remote-controlled lighting scheme, with several tree uplighters that added drama and extended the use of the garden late into the evening.
  • Large planting beds with a mixture of naturalistic and ‘designer’ plants and a planting palette that offered year-round interest. We created different planting zones – gravel garden, woodland, water edge, ornamental perennial
  • Based on some of what we had been seeing as garden design trends for 2020, we merged different materials as one area met another. For example, a straight clay paver path that linked the 2 circular lawns partially wrapped round one of the lawns as the lawn also pushed out into a Cotswold stone chipping path. The other lawn included stepping stones around part of the circle that then merged with a Cotswold chipping area of path and gravel garden.

This garden took approximately 2 months to build and we documented creation of the garden