Saturday 18 April 2020

Creating an outdoor room in north London


When we first saw this small and rather hemmed-in courtyard in north London, it was immediately apparent that the space would be best served by using just a few well-chosen materials.  The client was overseeing major interior decoration as well and wanted style of the new garden to flow effortlessly from the house.

The client wanted a garden to sit and relax in but also for socialising. Plenty of seating space despite the size was a priority. A small recessed area to the right of the courtyard will be used to house a barbecue and outdoor kitchen units. The client also wanted to be able to grow herbs for the kitchen, and we installed the green wall, using vertical garden pods from Green4Air, and with a solar-powered irrigation system supplied by Irrigatia.

The patterned tiles were chosen from the Sorrento range supplied by Fired Earth. The intricate detailing might have been overwhelming in a larger patio but in this compact space they brought light and texture.

The cedar bench was designed by The Urban Hedgerow built from scratch onsite by Graham Thompson of Creative Landscapes London, creating enough room to seat 8-10 people comfortably - or for fewer people to stretch out on cushions. The fence to the right was also built on site using materials from Jacksons Fencing and the corten steel screen, covering an unsightly gap in the rear wall was supplied by Stark and Greensmith.

The handsome bamboo plant was already in the raised bed to the rear, which was giving new edging and coping to match the cedar bench and the soil reconditioned. The bamboo was thinned and trimmed to let in the light and give it a boost, then underplanted with Choisya ternata 'Aztec Gold', an evergreen shrub with fine dissected leaves to throw interesting shadows against the fence and screen and with long-lasting white flowers in spring and summer.

We installed uplights in the raised bed to highlight shapes of the bamboo and other plants after dark.

The dark blue colour of the fence echoes the colour scheme inside the house. Exterior wood paint from Little Greene

The individual living wall pods are fixed to a framework on either side of the doors to the garden. The 1ltr pods each hold culinary herb and salad plants, including rosemary, thyme, oregano and rocket. In summer the pods will also hold a number of colourful edible flowers.
Plenty of seating with the bespoke cedar bench and the bistro table

Left: the old softwood deck was replaced by the patterned tiles, right. The built-in deck provides plenty of seating without clutter, and uses the existing wall of the raised bed as a backrest.

Friday 17 April 2020

Tulips and other spring flowers - jewels of the garden

 It's a visual feast in the garden at the moment: spring flowers dancing in the breeze and adding delicate pastel shades to borders, verges and containers.

Crocuses in a makeshift container.

Left: Prunus Kojo-no-Mai brightens up the patio with early spring blossom; Right: Leucojum aestivum, the summer snowflake, arches gracefully over the border.

Ipheion uniflorum.

Fritillaria meleagris 'Alba', the white-flowered version of the snakeshead fritillary - the checkerboard pattern appears as though embossed on the petals.

Tulips are the jewels of the spring garden. Available in so many colours from pure white to deepest midnight purple, with reds, yellows and pinks in-betweem. Tall stems can lift the flowers up to a metre high, while dwarf varieties will sit snugly in a pot.
Vase-shaped, frilled, open or closed, tulip blooms have been cultivated into different shapes since the 17th century when they became wildly fashionable with bulbs commending ridiculously high prices (The resulting tulip market crash in 1637 wiped out fortunes overnight).
These days, they make a colourful, low-maintenance addition to the garden. Plant bulbs in the open ground, or in pots, in the autumn, keep the squirrels off them (I use netting, or upturned hanging basket holders), and you will be rewarded in April with a colourful display -