A competition to redesign the 22-acre garden and grounds at The Bowes Museum has been won by Arabella Lennox-Boyd, who was among three internationally renowned designers invited to submit plans for the £3m project.
Their brief was to create a garden to complement the Grade 1 listed building and its outstanding collection of fine and decorative arts. The design needed to be exciting for horticulturalists, cater for the wide range of visitors of all ages, and reflect the botanical importance of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where rare flowers such as the Blue Gentian grow.
The entries were uniformly excellent but Arabella Lennox-Boyd’s winning plans 'dazzled' the judges. The masterplan includes a parterre with shallow canals, a pergola, rose covered pavilions and stepped banks topped by pleached limes to frame the French style Museum. The design also includes a contemporary café, a horticultural therapy centre and a verdant play area with wide-scale trees, shrubs and herbaceous planting to provide horticultural interest throughout the year.
Peter Millican, a Trustee of The Bowes Museum and head of the judging panel, said: “I am extremely excited about the creation of a wonderful new garden. The Arabella Lennox-Boyd design is not only stunning but offers something for everyone and will continue to develop over the years, as all good gardens should. Her design complements both the Museum and the vision of its founders John and Joséphine Bowes.”
The other judges echoed his enthusiasm. Journalist and author, Christopher Stocks said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for The Bowes Museum to really raise its game, not only for its extraordinary building and remarkable collections, but for its gardens too. This will make it a first among British museums and is a brilliant way of encouraging other galleries to be more ambitious about their settings and surroundings.”
Clare Foster, Garden Editor, House & Garden magazine added: “With international garden design on the ascendant, it seems the time is right for such an exciting project and the Museum's stunning and unusual architecture deserves an equally striking landscape to complement it.”
The design as it stands now was a design for a competition. The Museum is working with the designers to refine it further and will soon be entering into a planning phase which will include extensive public consultation and where more detailed plans will be made available.