A Formal Wildlife Garden, Harrogate

About This Project

The challenge for this planting design was to bring movement, screening and attract wildlife to a newly built house – part of a prestigious new development in Harrogate’s Duchy Estate.

The perimeters of the site are irregular in places, and the rear garden slopes sharply away from the house. I have a particular interest in the historic gardens of Spain, where you often find similar challenges. The solution is almost always fourfold – defining the edges with hedging and climbers, defining the garden itself with regular arrangements of trees (think of them as architectural features), using beautiful hard landscaping materials, and keeping the planting palette elegant and strongly repeating. The final magic comes if you design with light and shadow in mind, thinking how and where shadows will be cast across the garden. It’s one of the simplest ways of bringing movement into a garden, but it means using trees more than you might anticipate.

To work with the colour of the house and surrounding landscape, the palette chosen is greens, white, lime and yellow with a few flashes of purple and silver. Beech hedging has been wrapped around the garden, overplanted with climbing clematis and roses. For trees, the imposing, conical Pyrus ‘Chanticleer’ are arranged to front and rear of the garden, whilst Malus ‘Evereste’ appear in standard and pleached forms. Box and yew mounds help define lawn edges in a relaxed fashion, while the deep rear borders contain larger shrubs including Euphorbia wolfenii, Viburnum tinus ‘Anne Russell’ and Hydrangea arborescens ‘Anabelle’, with white foxgloves, purple Hellebores and silvery astrantia dropped amongst them.

The planting is further designed for autumn colour, and is all strongly favoured by birds and pollinators.