As guests and hosts enter the property, they first encounter the magnificent driveway, executed in elegant and understated style. The air carries the murmur of the sea while concentric circles of dark grey gabbro-diabase present old-style paving from the St. Petersburg port area and evoke ripples in water.
Our brief was to unite a heritage site with a new plot, transforming the driveway in front of the house, the garden and the land around the newly constructed guest annexe into a seamless, harmonious landscape.
In a nutshell
Sestroretsk is the jewel in the crown of St Petersburg’s Kurortny district; a town of two elements – wind and sea. The location’s unique ambiance was a natural influence in the project development process. The property’s proximity to the sea, the sweeping expanse of the facades, the circular port-hole windows, the spectacular contour of the roof and the wooden terracing – closely resembling an old pier – all left their mark and inspired the ‘marine’ style of the garden and the choice of plants and materials. We paid attention to the pre-existing contemporary architectural tone, then brought in modern shapes that resonated with it.
As we pass through the vine-draped wooden pergola, we reach a giant oak tree that stands in the grounds, visible from every corner of the property.
The heart of the garden features a sea of grasses with large beds of perennials in front of the wooden ‘decked’ terrace, to the left of the path. The plants are distributed in large clusters on a scale consistent with the surrounding architectural structures. In windy weather, waves spread across the surface of the grasses, peppered with bright splashes of colour: tulips in the spring give way to cranesbill and meadow sage, then artemisia and chamomile, with autumn bringing asters and smallweed.
Afloat in the sea of grasses is an old six-oared rowing boat sourced specially for the project in Kronstadt. Taking a well-deserved rest, it’s an instant hit with the youngest members of the household and their little friends.
A little further along lies a large meadow that matches the buildings in scale and majesty, cut through with a broad path of individually spaced granite paving stones.
A small vegetable garden sits apart from the main body of the property – a separate little world with its own scents and colours. Cosy and sheltered from the wind, it has become the lady of the house’s favourite spot where she grows her own herbs, vegetables and decorative flowers. There is also space for fruit bushes, trees and even flowering plants. With its table and chairs, the wooden terraced area is the perfect setting to take afternoon tea in the open air, sheltered by a wicker fence and surrounded by her prized plants.
Everything has been thought through to perfection. The flowerbeds and storage are conveniently placed so that looking after the garden, harvesting the produce, reading, and drinking tea with friends is an absolute pleasure.
The garden boasts a bespoke greenhouse by Hartley Botanic, bringing a piece of England to St Petersburg. Vegetables are grown here in summer and, in winter, it plays host to olive trees, boxwood and noble rose trees.
Attention to detail is the most important aspect of the garden and we have to give credit to the owner for her lovingly selected and charming garden accessories and ornaments.