Dogs garden at La Moraleja (Madrid) —2018

Broken up into a series of rooms, this south-facing garden creates a journey that takes you down from a formal swimming pool terrace with refined evergreens towards a relaxed patchwork of colourful perennials and wildflowers that self-seed over gravel. Also sited at this lower elevation is a fire pit area where the family and enjoy gazing up at the stars, as well as a feature maple (Acer x freemanii) and raised wooden planters for growing cut flowers. The transition between formal and informal zones is brilliantly

eased through the use of structural yet calming ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis‘Gracillimus’, Stipa gigantea and Calamagrostis x acutiflora‘Karl Foerster’ – a simple ploy, but an enormously effective one. “When I think a garden is too formal, I add grasses and everything changes. Everything works a lot better because they create a natural link.”

Besides accommodating the family’s dogs, the client’s brief included a screening boundary for privacy, which was achieved using an evergreen camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) on one side and cork oaks (Quercus suber) on the other. The latter complement a sizeable, pre-existing oak that, having been retained, offers shade close to the house.