Case study: Growing out of the past

The driveway and front garden, which Gillian also tackled.

The driveway and front garden, which Gillian also tackled.

Subtle interventions and sympathetic enhancements were the key to success with this fine Arts & Crafts garden

Scotland has a wealth of architectural treasures, and much effort is made to preserve them for future generations to admire. But can beautiful homes and gardens from the past be adapted to modern life without losing any of their magic?

This house, in Edinburgh’s south-western suburbs, is a great example of how to do so sensitively and successfully. It and its gardens were designed and built in 1914 by Sir Robert Lorimer, one of Scotland’s greatest architects of the Arts & Crafts period. The owners, who have lived here for the past ten years, loved and appreciated their beautiful walled garden and its backdrop of mature trees, but they also wanted it to work for them and their family. Gillian Polley of Polley Garden Design was brought in to give the rear garden a new layout. The brief included creating plant beds on the south-facing terrace, devising a new planting plan and extending the terrace at one end to provide a new sitting area for enjoying the late-afternoon sun.

All of these had conditions: the new planting had to include fragrance, attract insects and be child and dog-friendly. And it had to be semi-informal in style, with a pastel colour scheme and year-round interest and colour. “The clients were installing a new greenhouse and I had to plan space for cold frames and a raised stone herb bed,” says Gillian. “And to make access easier for garden maintenance, I was also to design a discreet set of steps from the main garden level up to the terrace.”

Robert Lorimer was a master of the Arts & Crafts style, and the homes he built in Edinburgh are among his best

Robert Lorimer was a master of the Arts & Crafts style, and the homes he built in Edinburgh are among his best

Lupins are part of the early-summer herbaceous planting

Lupins are part of the early-summer herbaceous planting

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 220-223, issue 108.

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DETAILS

The brief To restore a garden that was designed in 1914, giving it a larger terrace, supplying it with colour and interest all year round, and making it suitable for a family with children and a dog.
Challenges Ensuring nothing was lost of the original beauty of the garden.
Maintenance The owner maintains the garden, with regular help.
Designer Gillian Polley
Photography Paul Johnston
Words Judy Diamond