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This small garden in central London is shaded by buildings and walls on all sides. Buff sandstone continues the pattern of the kitchen flooring and reflects light. The raised beds are arranged at a comfortable seating height, featuring woodland plants. The design water feature is centred to balance the space; its scale responding to the high surrounding walls.

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BELGRAVIA | small modern garden

30mē garden | conservation project


The sensitive renovation of this home was to give scope for the outdoors to be revamped and updated with a new design. The restrictions of working on a listed building and the client’s more classical taste meant I could bring to this project a contemporary design within a traditional framework. Whilst I would usually offset my focal points asymmetrically, here the water feature is set in the centre of the back wall. This was fitting due to the square area shape and the direct view from the kitchen. The small garden benefits from a sizeable structure such as this - taller than human scale it magnifies the illusion of space.


The planting design was not to be traditional however – the shade created by tall buildings on all sides meant that woodland flora would work well. Three species of Japanese maples triangulate between the raised beds underplanted with grasses and ferns. Either side of the water feature two matching clumps of my favourite bamboo give height and stature – the wonderful and very upright Narihira bamboo from Japan. Again, a traditional technique of clearing the lower part of the stems is enhanced by the contemporary lighting methods. The silkiness of the canes is contrasted with the serrated foliage of small, evergreen ferns.


The kitchen floor was laid to a beautiful random design of old stone and I wanted to replicate this as much as possible in the tone and sizes of the sandstone. Whilst the paving is fairly light when dry, in the rain it shows the variation of colours in the stone from buff through grey to blue. With the great scale of the surrounding walls I wanted to detail the raised beds with recesses under the coping and between the walls and the paving. This would make them float and help balance the space. A small fire feature, centred on the water spout, adds a touch of yin yang.

Similar projects: Fulham garden | Regent's Park garden | Hampstead garden | Mayfair garden

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