Following our recent competition and ongoing collaboration with Another Place (you’ll find our enamelware throughout the hotel), we caught up with landscape architect, Laurel Truscott, to learn about boosting biodiversity, ways to enjoy your garden whatever the weather, and the endlessly impressive wild beauty of the Lakes…
Tell us a bit about you and where you grew up?
I grew up just south of the Lake District, in Silverdale, where my love of landscape and the natural world began. But I’ve also always been fascinated by the interplay between urban spaces and the wild environment.
Both my parents are landscape architects, so I grew up immersed in that world, and went on to study landscape architecture at university. After my studies, I moved to London to work for LDA Design, a multidisciplinary practice of urban designers, landscape architects and planners working on a number of exciting projects, including the Olympic Park. I returned to live and work as a landscape architect near the Lakes in Silverdale, Lancashire.
What do you enjoy most about your role as a landscape architect?
Unlike buildings, the landscape is continually evolving. One of the wonderful things about a garden is that it only gets richer and better with time – with a little taming and looking after, of course!
Since I started my career 20 years ago, I’ve learned so much about how to enhance a site for biodiversity, which is really exciting. There’s been a real step change in the way we think about the natural landscape, improving biodiversity and using native species – and there’s much more support available.
I love that, through my work, I can help nature to thrive and create sustainable, beautiful landscapes that will be around for future generations to enjoy.
You worked on Another Place's new Outside project. What was the most important focus for there?
We really tried to anchor the architecture of the Outside spaces and accommodation (the treehouse, shepherd huts and Glasshouse) into the landscape, while constantly keeping biodiversity in mind.
I think the best designs are those that don’t look like they’ve been imposed on a site. They work with it; they look like they were meant to be there all along.
How did all this play out at Another Place?
We’re currently working with Danny Teasdale and his amazing team at Ullswater Catchment Management CIC to establish an ecologically rich landscape within the fields surrounding the hotel, which is really exciting.
The intention is to establish pasture meadows in front of the hotel, with wide mown paths linking the gardens and Ullswater Lake, as well as planting more native trees across the site. We have sown beautiful annual and perennial wildflower meadows at the edges of the gardens, which have been a fabulous burst of colour throughout the summer.
There are also swathes of ornamental grasses, waves of coloured stems, circular terraces and private lawns with individual planting themes, including Ferns, Hellebores, Camellias and bright pink Primulas.
Guests staying in the treehouse will feel like they’re nestled in the middle of a secluded woodland, because we’ve used the light foliage of Birch against a backdrop of mature trees.
I was also very keen to minimise waste. So, we’ve transplanted plants we dug up to use elsewhere on the site – giving them a new lease of life rather than throwing them away.
What about the changing seasons?
I thought very carefully about the seasons through the year at Another Place, and how the garden will cycle for maximum impact.
Bright blue bulbs and unfurling leaves in spring, the white flowers of the Cornus kousa ‘Chinensis’, drifts of yellow Rudbeckias, the dramatic purple Verbena bonariensis with the plumes of grasses in summer, lasting on into autumn, and the bright colour of the Dogwoods and sculptural seed heads in winter. And, wherever there’s an intersection of paths, or you cross from one threshold into another, we’ve planted gorgeous scents…
As the colder months set in, how can people continue to enjoy their gardens?
I love autumn in the UK. I think it might be my favourite season (although I say the same about every season when I'm in it!). And the Lake District is possibly the best place to experience the incredible colours that autumn brings – the myriad of intense yellows, burnt oranges, reds, purples and pinks, mostly from the trees Acers, Beech, Cercis, Spindle, Liquidambar.
Moving into winter, everything becomes more sculptural. You notice the wide grey skies and tree silhouettes, the silvery raindrops on bare stems and elegant seed heads (a few of my favourites are Japanese Anemones, Cardoons, Telekias and Rudbeckias) and the golden plumes of grasses.
What do you love most about living in the Lake District?
It's hard to explain exactly. Having grown up here, it’s always been a part of me. I've lived in many other places, but when I'm here I feel like I can breathe properly. The intense beauty of the landscape brings me calm.
The seasons feel, to me, more exaggerated here than anywhere I've lived. It’s so diverse, with the mix of small and large-scale landscapes – the lush, gently undulating valleys, the sheer and dramatic fells, the woodlands that turn purple in winter, the long, flat lakes. I just love it.
Can you share any tips on the best places to eat, drink, source ingredients in your local neighbourhood?
A few of my favourite places include:
Forest Side in Grasmere, for delicious food sourced from its extensive kitchen gardens. When I was last there, the head gardener advised me to buy a Japanese Wineberry plant (it's an Asian raspberry but smaller and sweeter) to make Wineberry Gin – which I have, and it's fabulous!
Sunday lunch at Howtown. This is all about the experience of parking at Glenridding to get the Ullswater Steamer along the lake to the little jetty at Howtown, followed by the rural walk to Howtown Hotel. Then it’s coffee in the garden, looking out over the fells, before the gong sounds for a traditional Sunday lunch...
Chesters by the River at Skelwith Bridge. This bakery and shop has a gorgeous location – I love sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the River Brathay, followed by a leisurely walk along the river's edge. This is a great afternoon out with children – mine love it here!
The Farmers Arms near Coniston. It’s a project by Grizedale Arts and the local community, combining delicious food and drink and opportunities for creativity (workshops, talks and events) run by a team of incredible makers.
Yellowhammer in Stockport is a bakery, deli and pottery with amazing wines. It's a bit out of the way of the Lake District, but I have to include this place, because it encompasses beautiful design, delicious food and brilliant workshops, set up by a small group of very talented and inspirational makers.