This garden backs onto an end of terrace Victorian house. The central structural challenge was the shape, an offset rhombus, with a slope down from left to right. A series of right-angled raised beds were designed to retain the neighbouring levels and to link the garden with the lines of the buildings. These provide bold, planting blocks and discrete views from the living room and kitchen.
The plants were selected to provide scent, movement, colour and nectar throughout the year. The raised beds face west and are planted with a range of drought tolerant species. A broad bed of herbaceous perennials and flowing grasses separates the terrace from the lawn creating a translucent screen in summer and autumn. A wildlife pond, a green roofed shed, log piles, bird boxes and insect habitats encourage wildlife. At the back a stand of river birches and woodland plants surround a fire pit with circular bench seating, a place to sit and contemplate.
This courtyard near busy Brixton was designed to be a pleasant green retreat from the bustle of city life. Screening from the neighbours, a sense of enclosure and some romantic planting were desired.
The living room and kitchen opens onto a small paved terrace where pots can be displayed, from here you move through, winding right-angled pathways and low raised beds to a hidden space at the back, large enough for a small table and chairs and surrounded by dense planting.
Scented climbers scramble up the boundary trellis and drifts of flowering shrubs and perennials fill the garden with colour and scent, softening the angular structure of the paving, encouraging nature in and creating a verdant urban oasis.
The plot for this new build timber framed house at the edge of the village overlooks water meadows, with a resident barn owl, and views of the rolling fields beyond. The client wanted to integrate the building with the landscape and create a haven for wildlife in the garden, on a low budget and with low, long-term maintenance.
The most important habitat created was a mixed, native hedge, soon home to a cacophony of house sparrows. The warm, red brick wall of a neighbouring barn provided the backdrop for a mixed border with flowering shrubs and perennials. A retaining wall to manage the change of level divided the house and main area of the garden, the curved beds beyond were planted with drought tolerant grasses and perennials to cope with the free draining soil and create an ornamental meadow linking the garden to the surrounding landscape.
The four winds garden was inspired by the journeys of early plant hunters and celebrated the 200th anniversary of the RHS.
The four corners of the earth are represented by gravel circles, areas of contemplation and the planted pathways between them represent the terrain over which the plant hunters travelled on often difficult and highly dangerous journeys.
The garden takes you on undulating paths through an imagined meadow, a boardwalk enveloped by soaring bog plants and an ornamental woodland border to a plant hunters retreat with drying and pressed plants, herbarium specimens, a plant log and photographs of earlier expeditions. At the centre is a pool, the seas, the final journey made by the plants before being brought into cultivation in our gardens.
The garden was designed to be ornamental and evoke particular landscapes but also to provide habitats to attract, feed and shelter wildlife. An important feature was an undulating, stacked log wall, topped with turf and wild strawberries. A pair of ducks set up residence for the duration of the show and the garden was soon filled with birds, butterflies and dragonflys.
The garden won a Gold Medal and The Tudor Rose for best water garden at Hampton Court.
St Charles Hospital
This garden was created in the grounds of a Grade 2 listed building in central London. The concept for a therapeutic garden evolved from conversations between the staff, patients and visitors of a long-term geriatric ward. Originally the land surrounding the ward was mainly grass with scattered shrubs and trees, inaccessible to wheelchair users and difficult to appropriate for therapeutic purposes. The hospital community wanted a garden that patients, their family and friends could enjoy, a place for staff to practice therapeutic activities such as gentle gardening and exercise, somewhere to sit in breaks from work and with the potential to host events such as performances.
The structure was designed to create several semi private spaces where users could meet in small groups, accessible throughout by wheelchair and with bespoke ‘leaning posts’ to allow patients who find rising and sitting difficult to relax outside. A raised herb bed for horticultural therapy, circular seating groups and dense year round planting made the garden both practical and an attractive place to be. Anchor structural plants were selected to compliment the grand Victorian architecture such as Cupressus sempervirens and Chamaerops humilis. Strong colour, scent, movement and year round interest were important to encourage enjoyment throughout the year.
Southwark Roof Garden
The clients of this modern studio flat in central London wanted a to create an urban oasis, attractive to birds and bees, a sort of cottage style roof garden. The existing structure limited the weight bearing of the roof so planter size, weight and positioning was limited. Plants were chosen to be drought and wind resistant and also to provide colour and nectar for a long period and shelter for any visiting creatures.
Working with the Front Yard Company planters, nesting boxes and insect habitats were positioned to encourage wildlife visits. Colourful perennials, swaying grasses and scented climbers were planted to surround the roof terrace and the courtyard below, screening the surrounding buildings and rail tracks and providing a refuge from the city centre.