Ploughing, pile driving, quarry blasting—nothing you'd immediately associate with horticulture, but all activities listed by the Government as potentially harmful to badgers. And so, it turns out, is garden landscaping. Which can be a bit of problem, when you're at a property on the edge of Richmond Park, about to start work.
The Principal Award Winning Garden, designed by Cassandra Crouch, Cassandra Crouch Garden Design. Photo: Cassandra Crouch.
“It was an enormous challenge,” says Ben West, of Landscaping Solutions, based in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. “The badgers are on the neighbour's boundary and it's a well-known sett with extensive tunnels that reach under the garden.”
Badgers and their setts are protected by law and work that threatens to disturb them needs a licence from Natural England.
“It affected construction,” adds Ben, “slowed things down. We moved into other areas of the garden where the badgers were less active.”
The upshot of Natural England's involvement was that the owners had to monitor the sett entrances near their garden with night cameras for two weeks. No badger activity was recorded, and so work could go head. Ben is pleased by the experience. “It meant we learned best practice for that situation.”
Sawn Grey Yorkstone gives a sleek sophistication to the contemporary design.
The build went smoothly from then on. Designed by Cassandra Crouch, whose company Cassandra Crouch Garden Design is based in East London, the garden followed the brief to have a unifying architectural theme and colour scheme complementing the house. The patio was laid in Sawn Grey Yorkstone. “It's a great quality stone, that looks beautiful and is nice to work with,” says Ben.
It also tones rather nicely with Millboard's Enhanced Grain Smoked Oak, which was used to help provide clean access to the house and in an area round the gym.
The fireplace uses a bioethanol burner behind glass.
The large terrace provides the focus for the design, as well as social space for entertaining and family time, and provides strong geometric lines that complement the house, garden gym, and beams supporting the striking hanging seat.
This garden has just won Landscaping Solutions their fourth BALI award (congratulations, guys), and their second Principal Award, this time in the category of Domestic Garden Construction (£60K-£100K).
How do you go about creating success like that?
“Good organisation, attention to detail,” says Ben, “but the key thing is that there's a philosophy of really caring what you're doing, in your attitude towards work and customer service. “And,” he adds, after a moment's thought, “what stood out in winning two Principal Awards was that the clients were such a delight to work with. Nothing was too much trouble for them.”
Toning cladding, furniture and aggregate complement the Sawn Grey Yorkstone, which also provided stepping stones in the beds.
So, there's no doubt you can't beat teamwork, whether it's with members of your company, the designer, or the owners of the property. The right design is obviously a must, too. “All the awards gardens, when I've seen them on paper—I've thought they looked like winners. I can't really formalise the reasons, they just sit right on the paper.” Well, this one certainly did!
The garden is looking at more than one major award. Cassandra Crouch's design has been shortlisted in this year's Society of Garden Designers Awards, in both the main categories and The People's Choice. The winners will be announced at the SGD Awards Ceremony at the end of January.
Our fingers are crossed for the results already