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Peterhouse calls in landscape designer to overhaul gardens

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Completed country house project, Surrey
Completed country house project, Surrey

Thomas Hoblyn is looking forward to starting a landscaping project at Peterhouse, which will make use of Cambridge’s unique micro-climate to increase the ecological diversity and richness of the college’s gardens.

The University of Cambridge college appointed the award-winning Bury St Edmunds-based landscape and garden designer “to redesign Cosin Court, to open up the gardens and create a series of courtyard gardens with a sustainable scheme”.

Since its conception in 2001, Thomas Hoblyn Garden Design has worked on projects from London townhouses to large country houses and rural estates, healing gardens, the rewilding of coastal land and public parks.

The practice is based in a 400-year-old converted barn at Tom’s property in the Suffolk countryside where he and the team have space to create, and use the walled garden to trial and experiment new ideas and designs. The team is a close group of highly trained designers and landscape architects collaborating to create landscapes and gardens which find their source in classical design and develop with more naturalist planting to blend seamlessly into their landscape.

Work for each project, whether private, commercial or public sector, is “a response to its own unique place and atmosphere, creating an environment where the client feels at ease in their space; a place to escape and delight”. Following an ethic of sustainability, the studio “seeks to increase the ecological diversity and richness of any landscape in which we work” by using local materials where possible, and plants are selected to fit and thrive in their surroundings.

For the Peterhouse project, the practice pitched for the work.

“I believe two others were asked also,” Thomas explains. “This was back in November 2019 and I found out that I’d won shortly before Christmas.

“Once we get past the planning stage, it will be full-time for two of us with occasional input from others. There will be a need for specialist consultants also – a structural engineer, ecologist, drainage consultant etc.”

The launch of the work is being delayed by the pandemic, of course.

“The plan was to have the main courtyard garden completed this year,” noted Thomas, who has some primary creative aims.

“Health and wellbeing for the users and a pioneering sustainable way for treating these college spaces are the main reasoning for these gardens,” he says. “I hope to set an example for how these spaces should be utilised.

Thomas Hoblyn will ‘redesign Cosin Court, to open up the gardens and create a series of courtyard gardens with a sustainable scheme’
Thomas Hoblyn will ‘redesign Cosin Court, to open up the gardens and create a series of courtyard gardens with a sustainable scheme’

“The whole idea of capturing rainwater and using it not only for irrigation but to provide a calming Hobson’s Conduit-inspired water feature is new and exciting territory for me. Cambridge’s unique micro-climate allows for some exciting possibilities of never-been-seen-before planting combinations.

“The main courtyard is very geometric to align with the surrounding architecture but the outlying parts will be quite wild and naturalistic speared by a cloister-like pergola. We plan to use sustainable materials where possible.

“The overall scheme will be very inviting, encouraging students to use the space not only for study but also provide a safe and relaxing space. Noise from water, encouraging wildlife, fragrance, colour – all these things will help.”

Previous projects have included Hawkesen House, Greenwich Peninsula and country houses and rectories across southern England.

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