The clients for this project were looking for a complete transformation of the gloomy, concreted courtyard to the rear of their Georgian cottage into an oasis in the city. The design needed to deliver an outdoor space which would be both attractive and functional, all within a restricted footprint.
The challenge was to provide a beautiful view from the kitchen window and a seating area which could be enjoyed at any time, while also accommodating a small car and utilities such as recycling bins. The clients wanted a versatile space which could be used for entertaining and also wished to keep maintenance to a minimum. The overall appearance of the garden needed to be consistent with the neighbouring listed buildings and conservation area.
The design for the garden was based around a series of interconnecting circles of different sizes. This would create an interesting and distinctive layout and, along with enhanced changes in level, delineate the space into discrete areas. The key elements of the design were derived from the existing features of the property and the wider landscape in which it sits.
Reclaimed bricks would be used for construction to correspond with the existing red brick walls. Limestone paving slabs and cobblestone, supplied by Westminster Stone, was chosen to reflect the colours of nearby houses. A metal structure was conceived both to screen a seating area from the parking space and to mirror the horizontals and verticals of a nearby modern office building visible from the property. This would be powder coated in a shade of grey which complemented the kitchen shelves within the house and topped with finials in keeping with a Georgian style. By linking the garden to the surrounding landscape in this way the space would feel larger.
A significant challenge in the construction of the garden by our colleagues Base Squared was the need to first liberate the ground from the thick layer of concrete in which it was encased. Once this was achieved (after some blood, sweat and tears!), a row of pleached trees was installed so that the roots could be positioned below the hard landscaping. This feature balances the height of the opposite wall and screens the garden from adjacent properties enhancing its privacy. Magnolia grandiflora were chosen to link with existing specimen positioned outside the property.
The paving not only creates a robust platform for the parking space, but also provides for an attractive feature in its own right. The circular motif of the overall design is repeated as a decorative element and the tones of the brick and limestone give light and warmth to the space. A sunken area nearest to the cottage houses a secluded seating space while the simple metal structure provides a framework for climbing plants and obscures the Mini parked in its own ‘room’ to the rear of the garden. Gates constructed in the same grey metal, along with western red cedar which is consistent with the fence materials, secure the garden perimeter while allowing vehicle access to the street beyond.
Raised beds constructed from brick with a void beneath allow the accommodation of the household recycling bins within the garden, but without undermining the attractiveness of the space. A wooden bench with integrated storage is also incorporated, expanding the available seating for guests and maximising the use of limited space. A Kadai firebowl may be used as a barbecue or outdoor heater and can be moved around the space as needed. Subtle lighting is integrated into the steps between the different areas and on the house allowing for both the use and visibility of the garden after dark.
The planting scheme is a subtle combination of greens, purple, white and blue. Climbing plants such as Clematis and Passiflora utilise the height of the perimeter and deliver colour through the summer months. Plants chosen for their evergreen foliage, such as Hosta, Carex, ferns and the architectural Fatsia polycarpa ‘Green Fingers’, provide year-round interest with limited maintenance.
For the clients the garden designed and delivered has exceeded their expectations. It meets the practical need to accommodate a car and refuse facilities without making the space feel constrained or undermining its attractiveness. They are particularly delighted with the pleached Magnolia trees and feel the rest of the planting blends well with the surrounding area. “We could not be more pleased with either the experience of working with [The Cheshire Garden] or the end result”.
If you have a small garden or awkward space which needs some love, why not get in touch with The Cheshire Garden to see how it can be transformed.