The Farmhouse Garden


Ornamental Gardens

Descriptive Summary:

The most established and colourful part of Lawson Park Garden, this half-acre site slopes southwest down towards the house and hostel and is dominated by two deep, irregular borders separated by a wide pathway. At a change in level there is a natural rockery, and a wide gravelled area that is more sparsely planted, giving way to the Water Garden, above which a wide bridge / walkway leads to the Woodland Garden, Orchard, Polytunnel and Vegetable Garden.
The Farmhouse Garden is separated from the track and Grizedale Forest by a native plant hedgerow planted in 2001, the first feature planted on the whole site. Hard landscaping is kept to a minimum with slate gravel and some low retaining drystone walls.

Many of the plants here have been propagated since 2001 by Karen Guthrie, and the border planting is frequently changed according to successes and failures, and a developing aesthetic for this area. As the soil has been improved with successive mulches, the planting palette has widened. We love to use bold and sculptural herbaceous and biennial plants. Broadly speaking, the borders are inspired by European prairie planting style, combined with observations of the colour and textural schemes of surrounding mountains: For example, purple and yellow appear together in the landscape in heather, foxgloves, gorse, tormentil and buttercup - and we have also combined these colours in the borders with purple fennel, verbascus, loosestrife (Yellow and purple) and thistles. We like to use species close to those found in nature, often with fragrant or edible properties. After a late spring mulch and indispensible staking, the borders are encouraged to grow vigorously and densely with little intervention, and are left to seed until the following spring, providing an interesting winter silhouette and food for birds.

The natural rockery in the foreground of this garden grows a number of self-sown trees that we are 'bonsai-ing' in situ, many native self-sown mat-forming grasses and plants, and a range of mainly winter-flowering heathers.

Architectural plants such as sedum and phormiums anchor the design in the winter - We are always trying to integrate more winter interest plants but find that many struggle in the extreme weather conditions. Though generally a sunny site, it can be a very slow spring in this area of the garden, with frequent hard frosts.

A selection of plants:

Macleaya cordata (Plume poppy)
Sedum spectabile Autumn Joy (Ice plant) 
Potentilla nepalensis (Cinqefoile)
Filipendula rubra 'Venusta' (Venusta meadowsweet) 
Echinops tienschanicum (Globeflower) 
Stipa arundinacea (Pheasant's tail grass) 
Phormium tenax 


Karen Guthrie & Adam Sutherland

About the designers/maker/s:

Karen Guthrie and Adam Sutherland have lived and gardened on site since 2001. Walling has been undertaken by James Herd and James Howson and the hedgerow was laid with David Johnson of Coniston & Torver Garden Club in early 2008.




This area was rough fellside until 2001, when staff from the neighbouring Brantwood Estate came to plough it in the first step of cultivation. A ground clearance programme using organic methods over the next few years included carpeting almost all of the area to kill off grass, rotivation, mulching and manuring. There has been almost no bought-in topsoil in this area of the gardens.

Raison d'etre:

This garden is visible from almost all of the house windows, so it was naturally the first area to be cultivated at the site. As it is hidden away from the stunning views that dominate the rest of the site, it can be a more experimental garden whilst also needing to be of interest all year round.

Adaptions / renovations

Hard landscaping improvements during refurbishment over 2008/9 including re-routing main site driveway, more drystone retaining walls and concrete pathways adjacent to the hostel and house. The planting is always in flux being largely perennial.

  • Detail of the borders
  • Irises in summer 2007
  • Beginning to cultivate, winter 2000
  • Towards the office, summer 2007
  • Summer 2010