A Botanical Paradise

A Botanical Paradise

Toxovo, Leningrad Oblast
Plot size
7 000 m²
  • This garden design was particularly challenging from the outset, with a three-metre difference in elevation, high groundwater levels, three different houses and the outermost area of the plot still covered by forest.

    In a nutshell

    We had various objectives: to connect the houses on the site and to create an artificial lake – after identifying a suitable spot – along with an ornamental kitchen garden, spa, tennis court and children’s playground. The client came to us with various creative ideas for the site and she also wanted to allow for a possible extension if the neighbouring plot were to be acquired in the future.

    Our Clients

    We were exceptionally fortunate with our clients who had a clear idea of the overarching concept but less certainty around the details. While the house was under construction, they read extensively on the subject of landscape design and were able to clearly articulate their intentions.

    The lady of the house wanted a range of lilacs, roses and fruits tough enough to survive the winter in our harsh climate. She accompanied us to a German nursery, and she paid particular attention to the finest details such as the colours of the autumnal foliage and the taste of the fruit.

    Our clients reviewed all of our recommendations with an appreciative eye, debating with us, occasionally insisting on their own choices and occasionally recognising that we were right. However, they trusted us throughout, which was the most important thing!

    The Garden

    A magnificent two-metre-high lime hedge at the entrance to the property shields the house from unwanted observers.

    Beside the porch sit an arrangement of shade-loving plants: dwarf Serbian spruce, spherical thuja, spruce, pachysandra, plantain lilies and geraniums.

    Yellows, oranges and purples dominate by the main entrance with shrubs and plants in these hues. This area is overlooked by the client’s daughter’s bedroom and these are her favourite colours.

    There is a significant difference in elevation between the house and driveway and the rest of the land. The solution was timber steps of varying lengths and a retaining wall, which is relatively inconspicuous but fully functional. The uneven height is softened by mountain pines and a juniper, while perennials appear to burst through the timbers. The sun-seeking saxifrages, stonecrop and aubretia are at home in this part of the garden and striking with their generous blooms.

    Paths across the plot lead to a roundabout at the rear of the house, to the right. The centre of the roundabout is planted with roses and pale-blue perennials with scatterings of white. In spring, there are tulips in various shades, from white to pink and purple.

    There is a White Garden too with all of the flowers or foliage partially or completely white and silver. The shady part of this section is home to variegated dogwood, columbine, astilbe, phlox and hydrangea. Elsewhere, the ground is carpeted with groundcover roses, potentilla and stachys.

    We introduced a 1000 m2 artificial lake at the centre of the plot. One side has steep banks with huge boulders, while the other sides gently slope. The shallow side features yellow iris and Siberian irises alongside daylilies, polygonum and tradescantia which present bright but natural blooms. Meanwhile, the pontoons are great for sunbathing and fishing, with access to the water.

    The source of the lake is a stream that starts in the forest with grass covering the little island where the stream splits. Stepping stones stretch across the water and the seemingly accidental tree stumps are a great place to stop and enjoy the peace and quiet, the natural world and the wonderful view over the rest of the garden.

    We positioned the kitchen garden behind the bathhouse. At the centre is a Victorian-style English greenhouse with foundations in hand-made Belgian bricks. Two raised beds in these same bricks also serve as retaining walls. Here too, the topography is uneven and resolved with ramps and wooden steps.

    The greenhouse is one of the owner’s favourite haunts, which she uses to grow vegetables and store her exotic plants in winter. The cosy garden is surrounded with roses and climbing plants and home to a vegetable patch between the bathhouse and the greenhouse. This is the perfect hideout for a good read or some peace and quiet. Featuring two different species of hawthorn, the clipped hedges formed a solid wall as soon as they were planted, setting the kitchen garden apart and hiding it from the neighbouring plot.

    We hedged in the spa zone and springtime brings snow-white blossom on the crab-apple tree and rich purple blooms on the Ludwig Spaeth lilac. The inner courtyard presents spherical thujas, clematis, roses and perennials in varying shades of pink.

    The tennis court lies to the left of the house. Its retaining walls vary in height from 50 centimetres to two metres, playfully capitalising on the uneven topography. The cage link netting around the court is installed on the retaining walls themselves. In winter, the fence is strung with multi-coloured lamps and the court is flooded with water, transforming it into a skating rink straight from a childhood fairy tale.

    A portion of forest remains in the outermost part of the property. We removed diseased and inferior vegetation, cleared away broken tree stumps, sowed grass seed and added a sturdy swing suitable for adults. Sitting here opens up the most wonderful vista of the entire garden.

    Next to the forest is an original children’s climbing frame with a modern, space-age design. The colours are muted and unobtrusive. Children love playing here as it tests both their physical agility and imagination.

    Shade-loving bushes and trees sit all around the perimeter, along the wire fence, concealing the view from the road. They include dogwoods with colourful stems, spruce trees, viburnum, mountain ash, wild rose, spirea, raspberry and elder.