Private Garden – Gilston Park House - Harlow, Essex

In the early summer of 2015, GCS got its first big break. We won a bid for some work at the grand gothic manor of Gilston Park House, where the management wanted the front garden entirely renovated.

When we got there, we understood why. The garden (which was referred to as the Italian Garden) was divided into four quadrants featuring a planting design conceived and carried out by the previous contractors. It was of poor quality and not working in any way. We knew we’d have to pretty much start from scratch, and we came up with the idea of implementing a parterre garden. This would allow us to redesign the four quadrants around the garden’s centrepiece, though at this point the centrepiece was an extremely tired-looking shrub. That would have to go.

But there was lots to do first. We took up all the old plants and set about rehousing and replanting them around the 10-acre estate. We then renovated the borders, aerating them, breaking them down and putting in new soil improver. This done, we sourced some 50-60cm buxus plants to replace the old plants. Next, it was time to fix that unsightly centrepiece – we replaced the tired old shrub with a concrete base for a central statue, which we then installed.

The estate’s management was working on a tight budget, which meant we were only able to plant two buxus plants per metre, rather than the recommended three per metre. To overcome this obstacle we’ve since been carrying out regular maintenance on the plants, giving them regular nourishment and pruning them to encourage them to grow and knit together, covering the gaps.

This job was a terrific success, and we now consider it to be a real turning point for GCS. We’ll always look back on the whole thing fondly – though maybe not that rubbish-looking shrub.