Garden Tour: A Small Urban Garden is Softened and Zoned
A ‘blank canvas’ garden becomes a lush green and inviting space for entertaining and relaxing
With a three-storey old factory behind it, the rear garden was enclosed, but the look was very industrial. “The owners wanted it softened a bit and to have a green space within the city where they could relax and entertain,” Paul says. “Now they absolutely love it.”
*Check out the beautifully wild garden Paul designed for the front of this house.
Who lives here? A young couple, now expecting their first child
Location Bethnal Green, east London
Property A Georgian worker’s cottage
Garden dimensions 6.4m x 4.7m
Designers Paul Duffy and Peter Robinson of GRDN
Project year August 2021
Photos by Peter Robinson
“Before we started, it was a bit of a mud patch; there was nothing in it,” Paul says. “In terms of boundaries, there was the brick wall and timber fencing and a really compromised fence to one side. They had a tiny bit of paving that had been used as a dumping ground by the builders, a bit of soil, and not much vegetation. It was a really good blank canvas.”
The aim was to break up the petite plot by creating soft zones using different materials, rather than dividing it with anything too solid.
“The transition [to the seating area at the back] is broken up with the planting area and by bringing in different materials,” he says.
Bamboo in a planter at the back of the garden greens up the expanse of brick that looms over it, while an L-shaped bench provides generous seating for a space so small.
A Fatsia japonica, dangling over the short side of the bench, continues the jungly theme.
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Just visible on the left, screening another expanse of brick, is a multi-stem Prunus serrulata.
On the left here Paul’s planted a purple Sambuucus. “These get big as well,” he says.
A Trachelospermum jasminoides climbs along the fence. “We tend to put those on both sides, as they’re evergreen, so provide good coverage year-round, and have nice, scented flowers,” he explains. “[Having] lots of evergreen species [is] important – especially in a small garden – so the owners can see greenery all year round.”
600x400 concrete paving slabs in Grey, Schellevis.
The grille surrounded by a flush concrete plinth in front of the doors forms the top of a lightwell.
What’s your favourite planting idea from this small urban space? Let us know in the Comments.