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Overlooking Lake Maggiore near Milan, this villa was designed and built by the client. Advising and designing the large country garden over a few years, the continuity of surfaces, walls, paths and terraces was important. Natural planting grips a 25-metre steep slope over an acre, contrasting with the contemporary design around the house.

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MILAN | large country garden

2-acre garden | contemporary villa


This Lake Maggiore villa is blessed with a truly majestic view of the Alps. When my clients approached me to help with the garden design, construction of their house was well underway. Access to this large country garden was restricted and the weather very cold in winter and incredibly hot spring to summer. Over a period of three years I was able to draw up floor plans for the hard landscaping. Such a large garden had to be built in stages, every stage dependant on the builders finishing one area and moving to the next.


A roof terrace spans the width of the living room. The blue sandstone was flamed to give it a subtle texture and grip; it blends in with the interior glass, the lake and the texture of the mountains beyond. The arresting view was left unobstructed; with such a large panorama and big skies we wanted this experience to remain pure. With such a large quantity of sandstone in various finishes and sizes, nearly 2 full cargo containers, it was important to select the right stone. At the end of the selection process stone from China was imported – it seemed the most consistent, cost-effective and the proximity of the Port of Genoa made it all worth while.


This country garden provides a substantial environment for wildlife. The pool is filtered naturally and all the water discharged from the property is recycled, filtered in ground at the bottom of the garden and pumped back up again. With acid soil and humidity from the lake there is a wide range of species that can be used and a nursery in Como was able to supply some interesting shrubs and trees. Being in the Italian countryside, it made sense to use trees such as Italian Alder which is not only inexpensive, but is also very tough.


The areas around the house take less of a country garden feel and more of a contemporary city roof terrace ambience. The planting design therefore is more cosmopolitan, yet is in keeping with the view of the Alps. Crape Myrtles provide a seasonal change - spring, summer to autumn with their foliage, blossoms and bark. The evergreen Star Jasmine covers the underground drive steel pergola. I wanted the voyage to the meadow below to have a country garden feel with dense varied and layered foliage. This journey facing the lake is full of butterflies and birds and provides interest with every turning. Once reaching the bottom of the slope, the lake disappears from view. Sitting at the meadow looking up, a green hill frames the large house, softening it and linking the landscape to the neighbouring gardens.

Similar projects: Debden large garden | Saffron Walden garden | Sandbanks courtyard garden | Wandsworth garden

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