CITY – AN URBAN JUNGLE GARDEN IN LONDON
I first met this couple when I did some design clinics at the Urban Gardens Show in London; they liked the sketches I produced for them at the show and it led to a full design for their garden.
It’s probably my smallest garden to date, just 9m by 4.5m (30’ x 15’); there was also a 5′ rise just outside the back door.
My clients were extending the house to create a large kitchen with glass panels along the rear face, so the views from here were as critical as the views within the garden itself – and the last thing they wanted to be looking at was a 5′ wall, or, indeed, a set of steps! So I divided the retaining wall into two sections, with a planted bed at the intermediary level, and took the steps at a curve through the wall, almost hiding them. As the area left for a terrace from the kitchen had also been reduced in size, I also made this in the same material as the kitchen floor to give a seamless inside/outside transition.
The rest of the plan is very simple – following on from the decked terrace I designed circular ‘stepping stones’ in decking that run in a curve through the garden to a seat. These circles are set within slate chippings, which also formed an inexpensive tread for the steps.
The boundaries in a small garden are also really important, too enclosed and the garden feels smaller, too open and you lose privacy. The answer was to create side panels between my clients and their neighbours from slatted wood, painted the same colour as the kitchen units to provide additional unity between inside and out. I used the same styling to make 4 large planters and an inbuilt seat on the terrace so that the effect of the yellow brick walls (matching the house walls) is not too harsh, and so that the best use is made of the small terrace space.
LOSING THE BOUNDARIES HAS MADE THE SPACE FEEL MUCH LARGER THAN IT IS, AND THE PATH LEADING FROM THE TOP OF THE STEPS INVITES YOU TO EXPLORE
I used a product called Mobilane Green Screen for the rear boundary. This is effectively a narrow steel support planted with ivies in biodegradable troughs; this means that my clients have a completely green boundary, with all the wildlife and aesthetic benefits, without it taking precious space from the garden. It also means that the rear boundary completely disappears.
The garden is then planted mainly for foliage, with three different types of bamboo along with grasses and bananas to create a lush jungle; a fabulous sight from the house, an oasis of calm from within.
This garden is one of ten gardens featured in Design Your Garden by Caroline Tilston, published by John Wiley & Sons, and was one of ten gardens featured in the Great London Garden Trail 2010
All photographs copyright Steve Gorton www.stevegorton.com