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Janine Pattison Studios

Janine Pattison Garden Design Ltd is a leading UK garden design practice, renowned for creating stylish and contemporary gardens throughout Dorset and along the south coast of England. They work for both private and corporate clients, and have been featured in many garden publications. Janine is also a regular editorial contributor to Pro Landscaper.


Janine Pattison Studios was commissioned to design this project in Dorset by leading architect David James, who was looking for a sympathetic landscape to suit his stylish new glass and render house. The client, a retired lady with grown up children, was looking for a simple, elegant, romantic and beautiful garden that she could enjoy for many years to come. The budget was in the region of £250,000.


The plot was technically and logistically very challenging, with extremely difficult access, and a four-metre level reduction at the rear of the site. The levels differences made the space almost unusable. There were also major privacy issues, with neighbouring properties overlooking the garden. The house has sea views and the new garden needed to be designed bearing in mind the maritime climate.


The house demanded an elegant and stylish design solution that was in harmony with the top-quality build of the dwelling. We decided to create an exclusive ‘garden spa retreat’ for the client, including elements such as a sedum-roofed garden lodge with sauna, shower and exclusive bar area, mosaic swim spa pool, with large patios and level lawn. As the property was four storeys high, with balconies on each floor, the overall design had to take into consideration that it would be viewed from above and needed a broader perspective of balance and harmony.

There was no doubt that resolving the overall design meant dealing with the garden’s difficult levels issues. The ambitious and innovative solution required structural calculations, planning permission and 200 tons of backfill in order to create the level area to site the spa pool, garden lodge, patio and lawn. We designed a 4m high retaining doubleskinned wall and reinforced concrete ‘raft’ to maintain the structural integrity of the lower garden and bring the levels up. Creating a level garden has made the garden accessible for the client for years to come and maximised the design potential for the entire space.

We decided to use a pre-cast pool because of access difficulties and time constraints. A logistical challenge, the pool was craned over the property by a 250 ton crane. This involved us getting a license from the council, shutting the road down and getting a police escort! The swim spa is a full mosaic pool with a remote-driven retractable cover, and a uniform depth of 1.2m. It has a ‘swim spa’ system so the client can swim against a current. Bespoke colour-changing LEDs make the pool a wonderful space to relax in by night.

The western red cedar garden lodge also has a sedum roof, enabling us to deal effectively with sustainable drainage and making sure that rainwater remained within the curtilage of the property. As the house is a four-story property, we designed the roof to be as attractive as possible from all balconies. To the rear of the lodge, we designed a utility area with rainwater collection system for the irrigation of the garden.

To resolve the privacy issues, we decided to incorporate a 2m-high yew hedge, generous wildlife-friendly planting beds with pleached hornbeams and clipped boxwood, back-planted with herbaceous perennials, and spring bulbs.

The planting was designed to provide year-round colour and interest and to be easy to care for. The bespoke lighting scheme we designed runs through an advanced Lutron system to allow pre-programming for different mood lighting. Warm white LEDs create a romantic and soft atmosphere. LED strips hidden under the lip of the raised composite recycled Ecodek by the house creates the illusion of a ‘floating’ deck. The patios are grey flamed granite slabs with minimal jointing to reflect the palette and quality of the interior finish.

This once difficult, barren and unusable site has now become a sustainable, accessible garden, elegant and romantic – in complete harmony with the house and the wider landscape. Logistically and technically very challenging, this deceptively simple garden belies its design sophistication. We are delighted to have been awarded the BALI Design Excellence Award for 2012 for this stunning garden.




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