Case study: The Italian Job

The Italian Garden with its evergreen Elaeagnus x ebbingei standard trees

beautiful garden is not a rarity in Scotland; but one as magnificent as this, with its sculptures, pool and carefully planned layout – that’s unusual. What’s perhaps even more unique is that part of the design began life sketched on a paper tablecloth in Italy.

This is the garden of a Jacobean house in West Lothian, and before designer James Hutchison worked his magic on it, it was open parkland with mixed woodland and grazing. Apart from a small vegetable plot and an ornamental garden that had fallen into ruin, there was essentially no garden to speak of.

The owner was heavily involved with the planning from the outset. “After working on the first phase of the garden we became friends,” says James. “I felt it was essential that he was involved as much as possible in the design, so we (plantsman Stuart Gibson and Murray Parsons, who was project-managing the landscaping) asked him to join us on a trip to Pistoia in Tuscany where we could choose the specimen trees and topiary from the Italian nurseries that specialise in growing and exporting these mature plants.”


The brief To create a garden out of an expanse of woodland, open grazing and parkland.
Challenges There was background noise from the road near the house. The client requested that bunds be formed from mounds of topsoil that were then seeded with grass. These formed a barrier on the west side of the croquet lawn and have helped to keep out the noise of the traffic.
Designer James Hutchison of James Hutchison Garden Design. “The layout was strongly influenced by client, who had a keen sense of design and a really positive enthusiasm that was enormously helpful in making the project a success,” he says.
Photography Angus Bremner
Words Caitlin Clements