by Sarah Naybour
16th Febuary 2017

I was asked to look at this project as the final stage of the development of this property. The house having been renovated in 2014/15.

Originally owned by the Warburgh family, famous in Oxford for their involvement in the development of the Botanical Gardens, this garden was of special interest to me. There is a snowdrop named after the house: Galanthus ‘South Hayes’, several of which can be found in the woods adjoining the site.

The current owners had removed many of the shrubs and trees leaving it open to re-design to suit their needs. The main feature, and problem, is the steep bank which starts only meters from the house and drops down to a flatter area with a pond and large tree house. The house perched on top of the bank looks out across to the woodland across the valley.



Having already had the terraces and balcony designed and built it was my brief to come up with a solution to negotiating the bank, making it a feature and adding new trees, shrubs and perennials.


I created a series of zig-zag paths. A main wide one, with narrower tributaries to give access for maintenance. The client had asked for a formal look to the terrace area, so I included evergreen shrubs in a grid formation which then tumble down the bank through the herbaceous beds.

The planting of the bank will be based on the prairie style of Piet Udolf, with large swathes of perennials. The scale of this planting is bigger then anything I have designed before with each plant swathe being a minimum of 2sqm, some swathes being 6sqm.


This is just our first sketch / draft !

First job was to get the lines of the paths set out and then carve them out with a digger. Precarious work for the contractor.


Here Matt has determined the setting out points from my dimensioned drawings. These are then joined together with string for spraying out. We are all on site to make adjustments where necessary. gold-bank-dig-web

The paths have been carved out.




The beds will be retained by upright oak sleepers set at varying heights. Here we depend on the craftsmanship of Matt Ellett the contractor, and he is doing a great job.



The lower part of the bank will be retained by deep gabions (galvanized cages filled with stone), which we want to appear like dry stone walls. Again Matthew’s experience and craftsmanship is second to none.


All starting to shape up nicely.


We will be starting planting the top terrace beds and top bank next week, and have already got the new trees in the ground. The Gleditsia, albeit small is shining out in the distance.


I will update you with a second post in the new year once the paths are finished and we can continue with the bulk of the planting.

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