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This courtyard garden is surrounded by walls on 3 sides and a house on the fourth, with views internal and limited to eye level. The small strip of artificial grass is a reminder of the green hills beyond and can be seen in context from the upstairs windows. The architectural plants and the art are amalgamated into a sculpture gallery.

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SANDBANKS | courtyard garden

65mē garden | modern conversion


The garden enjoys some countryside views and gets very hot. With such an inspiring location and a warm climate the stage was set for some serious detailing. Enclosed by old walls on all sides this is a 300-year-old courtyard so incorporating contemporary elements into it was going to create an exciting design.


The courtyard was a blank canvass, a left over space of a recent development. Yet the history was there, as well as the old sandstone walls and challenging topography. Facing a triangular shape, the surfaces, steps and focal points in this courtyard had to provide movement with every elevation holding its own. The upper entrance takes one via a 20-step descent. As such, I introduced a tall palm tree in the left corner that would reach the top. This adds scale and maturity and links the two spaces.


The new brown and grey smooth sandstone would play a major role in the design of the courtyard garden in a multitude of details, but most importantly in contrasting the old and textured sandstone in the surrounding walls. This contemporary approach is augmented by a touch of artificial grass in the steps landing – a reminder a of the verdant Dorset hills in the distance, which can be viewed from upstairs.


The Cycad had done particularly well in this courtyard garden. I bought it in a large size as it has a very slow rate of growth and I did so with slight apprehension considering its high price tag. Yet, Dorset is far warmer than London and the micro climate in this courtyard is even hotter as the stone walls absorb and preserve heat very well. With the aperture wall enclosing the top corner displaying sculpture and the client’s affinity with art, the courtyard felt like a gallery and so the architectural succulents transformed into living sculpture.

Similar projects: Primrose Hill patio | Saffron Walden garden | Islington Mediterranean garden | Battersea small patio

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