“Great designers are not born that way – they get their passion and technique as they mature and learn their
craft.” So believes Anthony Paul a landscape designer, who taught himself the discipline of design by merely
“In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity”- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Once in a while a designer comes along who takes into account not just form and function but light and dark, negative and positive spaces and then with the love of nature as his North Star creates a design that relies on the land’s strong geometry to give it structure and presence.
Anthony Paul a landscape designer and consultant based out of Surrey, UK is inspired by many stimuli such as the calm of Japanese gardens and the stunning landscapes and rainforests of his native New Zealand.
His varied and creative use of water, including the formation of lakes and swimming pools, is a starring characteristic of his gardens, which are known for their strong form and architectural planting. His practice takes him to almost every corner of the world and the running of each project professionally and within the clients’ expectations, budgets and deadlines, is of paramount importance to him.
About the garden under consideration the simple brief was to create a link between a new house and its garden. The outcome was a calm, modern, green space and the process was essentially facilitated by the fact that Anthony was very familiar with the area as he grew up in the house right next door!
The interior of the newly built house was crisp and clean, the plot was flat and the house was raised, the challenge laid down was to create a seamless journey from the house into the garden.
Tranquility was achieved through simplicity and restraint and a terrace of Italian basalt with a reflective pool and raised water rill with stainless steel detailing was created. The entry sequence was made fluid and a clean geometry stitched together the property and the landscape beyond.
Aerially, the landscape is linear and highly graphic, but upon entering the garden, the design unfolds, encouraging thoughtful movement and quiet contemplation with a sculpture artfully balancing the equation with its understated vitality. The narrow steel pool is black in order to maximise reflection of the sculpture and the backdrop of reed Equisetum hyemale.
When asked if Anthony had a particular predilection towards certain plants, he avers, “Yes I do love simple clean architectural plants that give over a strong form or can be shaped that way, my love for greenery rather than bright flowers sometimes loses me clients, but I can also use bright colours and paint them onto the landscape like a wonderful painting by Van Gogh.”
Half of the raised terrace is clad in a simple flush Balau wood deck, which helps to define the separate dining space. Clipped hedging and pleached trees support the strong architectural design, whilst generating a feeling of cosiness.
Talking about his innately pared down treatment Anthony says, “You have to see how much you can take away to create the basic narrative of your design; the common mistake of many a young designer is to overload the design.
A good design should never have gimmicks, and should rely on its strong geometry to give it form and presence. Garden design I feel needs a clear structure and little fuss, all the frills can be normally provided by the cyclic journey the garden will travel eventually.”
Block planting was employed and it was artfully demonstrated how the colour green can offer so many variations. The contrast is created by shape and tone, and the selected planting ensures year-round interest. Anthony’s penchant for tall grasses mixed with clipped shapes added the finishing touches, as the left-hand side of the garden is planted with a dramatic wave of Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’. In the evenings the lights in the garden aid in the task of connecting with the inside.
Anthony’s clients were more than happy with the outcome but talking about how he manages clients generally Anthony shares, “Most people don’t know what they want and you of course don’t want to give them what they don’t want – looking carefully at their lifestyles, their taste and their choice of interior design gives one a guide and from that point you lead them along a road which has dual carriage, something from them and something from you. Never be a bully, never presume that your taste is theirs and never take liberties – you will quickly lose their confidence!”
The fine grain attention to the clients’ taste, the house and the lay of the land along with the use of a simple palette of materials has produced a garden that, despite its minimal approach and absence of any ostentation, sits comfortably within the landscape offering a place of quiet reflection be it any time of day.