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This is a contemporary woodland garden with natural materials, where the beauty of the old walls was conserved to merge with the new. In the garden design for the renovation for this London home, the blue sandstone matches the interior's floor, making the garden appear larger. The step edge was quarried at full depth creating a floating detail.

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KENSINGTON | contemporary woodland garden

24mē | modern house extension


The garden sits at the back of a modern extension, after a major renovation had created a subterranean gigantic open plan kitchen and left very little outdoor space. I used smooth blue sandstone – several pieces of it at 100mm thick so that I could create a robust step detail. The kitchen was surfaced with a 400 x 400mm stone and I wanted to follow this not only in grid and pattern but also in colour: this would create a unified design.


The foliage of Acanthus, the terracotta slanted pots and the bench lighting all produce soft notes above the sturdiness of the deep step. The concrete water feature was specially commissioned for this design and finished with an orange-gold leaf colour. The flowers of Crocosmia repeat this tone in a playful way. A layer of beach pebbles create a channel between the smooth stone of the step and the kitchen, giving a dimension of texture: a dry river landscape that separates the kitchen from the drifting garden.


The cantilevered bench features 3 dense pieces of iroko hardwood. The profile reiterates the thickness of the sandstone step. Steel beams were inserted into the concrete walls and cavities drilled into the wood. In order to avoid traditional landscape borders along the sides I wanted to create an interlocking modern pattern that will look great from above as well as give movement at ground level. The deep beds appear as if drifted apart from one another and allow for layering in the foliage.


The woodland specimens give height and seasonal change. I used some architectural favourites such as Aralia – the Angelica tree, Cercidiphyllum – the Katsura tree, Daylilies, Hostas and Rodgersias. These are all deciduous, which is important for seasonal change in urban London gardens. With a strong and well-articulated hard landscaping it is possible to layer deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials to a great effect. Whilst the framework of the design remains throughout the entire year, the autumn foliage and spring tones bring nature into the miniature landscape of a small city garden.

Similar projects: Primrose Hill patio | Fulham garden | Stockwell garden | Sandbanks courtyard garden

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