The new design retains a large central grass lawn, which perfectly sets off the neo-classical Cory Lodge, designed by influential Cambridge architect Baillie-Scott in the 1920s. But the sloped lawn flanking edges will be segmented by rectangular bluffs of yew, clipped at differing heights into interlocking geometric shapes. This strong design reflects the structural formalism of the Sainsbury Laboratory and the symmetry of Cory Lodge.
The yew bluffs indicate and guide visitors along several grassy gangways giving onto Cory Lawn and through to the new Café and, on the opposite flank, through to the Dry Garden and the British Wild Plants collections on the Limestone Mound and the Fen Display. The evergreen structure frames the colourful herbaceous plantings consisting of a base matrix of grasses including Miscanthus, Calamagrostis, Stipa and Pennisetum, to introduce texture and movement. The grasses are versatile partners to an ever-changing palette of flowers provided by good garden perennials and bulbs, together creating a garden of extended interest.
The landscape architects are Schoenaich Landscape Architects and Christopher Bradley-Hole Landscape, and the landscape contractors are Willerby Landscapes. The landscape architect team have been working very closely with Stanton Williams, architects of the Sainsbury Laboratory, to produce an inspirational, unifying landscape.
Horticultural staff have salvaged many of the Cambridge border plants. They have been split, tidied and heeled into a field plot behind the scenes. Many will be re-incorporated into displays around the Garden.
Next, landscape contractors, Willerbys, will be re-grading the area and preparing for planting, which should be complete by Christmas. Allowing the turf to settle will take some months, but we hope to open the new garden in spring 2011.
Dr Tim Upson, Curator and Deputy Director at the Botanic Garden, said:
‘The design is very different from any previous schemes in the Garden and reflects the challenge of responding to a modern building set against an existing landscape. The present Garden has many areas where formality is contrasted with informality, the short grassed edges to the gravel paths against the meadow areas, for example. The new Cory Lawn landscape uses clipped yew to provide a strong formal and structural element both framing the lawn and Cory Lodge beyond and strongly reflecting elements of the architecture. The herbaceous plantings provide a contrasting and colourful informality set against the dark green of the yews.’