As a garden designer I approach the commission of designs for public spaces with pleasure; the wider landscape offers me the scope to think big and to plant in multiples of 10 rather than the small quantities required for domestic settings. In spring 2015 the Royal Automobile Club approached me with the suggestion that I redesign an area of their Epsom country club grounds which had formerly been used for a centenary logo which was no longer required. And so it was that I took up the opportunity to redesign the Centenary Bank, aware that this part of the estate is on view all year round. My response to the site was that the planting had to be in keeping with the restrained and elegant style of Woodcote Park, offering visual interest for as much of the year as possible, harmonising with both the golf courses and gardens. The design had to address the steepness of the sloping ground, be beautiful and yet not too attention seeking, respectful of the ancient Cedar trees which stand behind it. The concept I submitted for approval was a simple evergreen hedge of Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ along the top of the bank, to increase safety of members using the path along the top of the site, a mixture of Hydrangeas, H. paniculata ‘Early Sensation’, H. paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ and H. paniculata ‘tardiva’ in the centre and flowing round the existing yews, with a foreground planting of Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’. All the blossom is white at some point, with touches of pink, contrasting with the greens of the foliage. Work began in early April with the construction of lateral timber supports across the slope at regular intervals to prevent the soil from being washed down the site, the replanting of existing heaths, and the addition of compost and fertiliser. Following this 60 Viburnum tinus, 85 Hydrangea and 90 Viburnum x burkwoodii were set out and planted, and were then watered and mulched the area thickly to retain moisture. The cool spring allowed the plants a little time to settle in before starting to bloom and the view across the Fountain lawn is now one of a bank covered with soft creamy plumes of flower. This new area of the gardens has attracted a very positive response from Members and the Woodcote bees alike and I am looking forward to next year when the plants have become completely established and will be in full bloom.
My next project for the Club is the planting of some 350 Alliums and 50 scarlet Crown Imperial Fritillaries in a border opposite the main building to provide colour and interest in June.