Garden Tour: A Bare, Narrow Patch Transformed for Tranquillity
Thoughtful design and planting transformed a skinny strip of unkempt grass into a multi-zoned, peaceful and lush space
The garden now also makes a nod to a Japanese theme, with a small water feature, gravel underfoot and several distinct zones, making it a relaxing place to spend time, as well as providing a pleasant and good-looking space for entertaining. There’s also a concealed shed, providing ample storage without interfering with the relaxing theme.
Who lives here? A professional couple
Location South-east London
Property A Victorian mid-terrace house
Garden dimensions 23m x 5m
Designer Simon Orchard of Simon Orchard Garden Design
When Simon first saw the garden, it was unkempt and hadn’t been touched for a long time. “There was an old patio, plus a rotting shed at the far end, and the rest was just laid to lawn. It was a nice blank canvas!” he says.
“The owners didn’t want a lawn,” Simon says. “They’re not sunbathers and don’t have kids running around, and the maintenance aspect didn’t appeal to them. They felt they could have a more interesting garden without one.”
In the foreground is a pale grey porcelain patio. To enable this to be the same level as the flooring inside the house, there’s a step down from the patio to a gravel pathway, made from dove grey limestone loose chips punctuated by stepping stones made from the same porcelain tiles.
The idea was that it would spill out onto the pathways and soften the joins; the more mature the garden gets, the more this will happen. The plants, once established, are also drought-resistant and attractive to insects.
The two beds seen here contain a couple of grasses: Carex ‘Everest’ in the foreground of the left-hand bed, and Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’, an architectural grass that will grow tall and straight, providing a vertical accent to contrast with the softness of the other plants.
Also planted here are Achillea millefolium, which are just behind the pink Echinacea pallida; Penstemon ‘Raven’ (the darker pink/purple flowers), and the flat-headed flower, Cenolophium denudatum.
In the opposite bed are ferns and Thalictrum, the tall, mauve flowers growing against the fence. Two varieties of clematis are starting to climb the fence on either side: Clematis ‘Prince Charles’ and Clematis montana var. alba.
Climbing up the fence at the far end of the garden near the seating area is evergreen and fragrant Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine). It’s underplanted with Galium odoratum. “It’s a great ground cover plant with little star-shaped flowers in spring,” Simon says.
Fence painted in Anthracite (RAL 7016).
The owners plan to add seating to this area. “There’s not much going on here, but that almost creates a bit of a pause from one end of the garden to the next, somewhere to sit and relax in an open space,” he says. This idea, Simon explains, is also inspired by Japanese design.
Seen here, the golden-leaved Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ tree, a multi-stemmed Japanese maple, is a big focal point in the garden as a whole. “It’s a cracking tree,” Simon says.
A pot containing agapanthus adds floral interest next to the fence and, at the back, a hedge hides a new shed.
Sandstone planks have been laid in this area. The owners plan to add a sofa and a firepit to create an inviting entertaining space.
Discover how to create a garden haven that soothes all the senses.
Sandstone plank paving, London Stone.
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