The Cheshire Garden was commissioned to develop a design for a small courtyard area immediately adjacent to the client’s house. The area adjoins the kitchen and a conservatory but was dark and damp and as a consequence an under used space within a larger cottage garden. The clients wanted the courtyard to provide an extension to their living space which they could use both as an outdoor room and as an attractive vista to enjoy from the warmth of their home during the winter months. Existing garden furniture and a contemporary water feature which had become lost amongst a jungle of overgrown shrubs at the end of the courtyard were to be incorporated into a modern design. The area was also used to provide an outdoor area for the client’s small dog – an expert escape artist! – and so needed to be contained.
The principle concept was that of a Persian carpet which was used as inspiration for the ground level layout of the courtyard with blocks of paving, gravel and planting creating an attractive geometric design. Key features of the house and garden were also drawn on to ensure that the design would align harmoniously with the existing style of the property. The design included raised beds which would complement the geometry of the paving and would be rendered in the same colour as the window frames of the kitchen and conservatory. A garage door would be painted to match the colour of a Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ in the larger part of the garden visible from the courtyard
The curves of the existing drive way would be mirrored by a rounded corner of paving at the rear of the conservatory. The mass of a dominant chimney feature on the side of the house would be balanced by the incorporation of pleached trees on the opposite side of the courtyard. Materials were selected which would complement the red brick of the house and the existing gravel of the drive way.
The client’s request for an ‘outdoor room’ has been delivered in a number of ways. The whole space is lightened through a complementary choice of rendering, balancing the light feel of the conservatory. This immediately has the effect of drawing people out of the house and into the courtyard. Sandstone pavers and setts create a mellow feel which brings out the colours in the brickwork of the house. Small areas of gravel within the paving provide permeability ensuring effective drainage as well contributing to the distinctive ‘Persian Carpet’ effect.
A masonry barbecue provides a locus for outdoor dining and entertaining while, in addition to the existing garden furniture, the raised beds offer additional seating for visitors to perch with drinks.
Creative lighting, including a quirky outdoor standard lamp as well as chunky storm lanterns, both extends the use of the courtyard on warmer evenings and allows the clients to appreciate the view from the house after dark. The contemporary water feature has been relocated to create a focal point when viewed from the conservatory, again drawing the eye through to the outdoor space.
Wrought iron gates have a beautiful organic design in a light grey colour which complements the colour of the rattan furniture and contain and secure the space.
The courtyard has contrasting areas of both sun and shade and so a combination of planting types was needed to ensure that chosen specimens flourish. The scheme is predominantly evergreen, punctuated with small splashes of muted colour from bulbs and perennials, ensuring that even with relatively low maintenance year-round structure and interest is delivered.
Fragrance and flowers attractive to both people and pollinators is delivered by choices such as Lavender and Ceanothus. Climbers such as Clematis and Passiflora are used to soften the boundary walls and elevate the planting. Within the ‘Persian Carpet’ design are squares of low-growing Soleirolia soleirolii, otherwise known as ‘mind-your-own-business’, providing a punch of green amongst the paving and a soft bed for Keira the dog!
Since the courtyard has been transformed from a dark and uninviting area to a light, modern outdoor room, the clients have enjoyed relaxing and entertaining in both the sunshine of a summer’s day and on into the evening.
If you have a neglected area of your garden, contact The Cheshire Garden for a consultation to see how it could be transformed into a beautiful and much-loved outdoor space.
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