The garden of this lovely Georgian rectory in Dorset is large but sits at the top of a hill which drops off quite steeply. This topography left us with the challenge of rather a tight and oddly shaped footprint for the formal area by the house. Our response was to create a ‘D’ shaped lawn, framed with curved borders, beyond which everything is about a gentle visual transition back into the woodlands, so that the garden ‘borrows’ the landscape and has the sense of extending further than it actually does. We used very traditional English garden plants; lots of roses and lots of topiary, using clipped copper beech in particular, to bring in an element of the contemporary. The simple, curved grass steps connect the lawn level in a very gentle way to a terrace that's made of limestone chippings. In this limestone surface, we planted a multitude of traditional ‘English rectory plants’, all of which have period associations. This hazy mass of plants right by the formal front door creates a wonderful sense of softness, which engages you with the garden the moment you step out from the house.