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The Box hedge creates a lower patio and an upper sandstone garden which is defined by a cantilevered bench for dining. The lower deck features smaller bench for a private moment. Bamboo is planted at the base of the raised beds allowing lighting to project upwards. Good views from the roof terrace above. NW London. A low maintenance patio garden design. Photo by Steve Gorton.

patio garden London Primrose Hill

Patio garden in London :: Primrose Hill

I have created quite a few gardens in Primrose Hill over the years...

and perhaps some of my best work is situated around here. Having lived in Camden Town for many years this meant that I could spend a lot of time on site on many of the projects and refine every detail. This project was no different. This large terraced house needed its patio garden revamped and the roof terrace and front garden completely redone too. Whilst a major renovation was carried out by the previous owner, my clients had much appetite for the outdoor spaces and could collaborate with me to create something quite special.

The garden had been situated very close to the doors of a conservatory with a brick retaining wall and some small hideous steps. The rest was a miserable lawn so it all had to go. With 5m across and 7 meters along you’d think ‘what am I going to do with is’, but as my experience had shown in similar size gardens the answer is ‘quite a lot’… The first step was to elevate a patio deck to the doors therefore reducing 3 steps into 2. These two steps would give the garden important qualities if they are to be pushed into the garden away from the house.

On this project there was no time to wait for the lovely Chinese sandstone on a 12 week boat. The 900 x 600 slabs came from Yorkshire and were distinctly buff and light blue with some wonderful slight veining. With a thickness of 75mm this meant I could sandwich the blue ones together to create perfect step heights. A Box hedge follows the angle of the steps to create a low barrier which adds movement and defines the entry points to the seating area. The delicate purple foliage of a Japanese maple is clearly defined against the light sandstone. Japanese maples have been finding themselves homes all over the globe and for obvious reasons. Here in a small patio garden in north London, they do well in the damp shaded environment, which is reminiscent of their native woodlands. I have seen them grow in full sunshine in Tuscany - doing very well being irrigated with rain water. Most dramatically, I have seen trained into huge clipped hedges in a nursery near Como in northern Italy.

With limited access through the house, the stone was brought into the site via the neighbouring patio garden. This was very helpful with our property being second from end of terrace. However, with a high brick wall between the two and the giant thick slabs weighing around 80 kg each, this was not an enjoyable day for the crew... Collaborating with the neighbours in London is something to be cherished - it's pot luck.   

Just previously I had been working on a roof terrace in Camden Town with a local metalsmith. My new bench design was cantilevered and over 4 meters long. It also had 3 sections as it was angled to the shape of the patio – it was time to call Adam… A light but robust metal framework was built into the front wall of the raised bed as we went along. The frame was then dressed with hardwood to match the deck. The raised bed was not backfilled with earth as we normally do as there was an existing tree in the right corner. This had created a wonderful effect, day and night, as the plants emerge from the base of the bed. 

Not long after the garden was complete my clients had moved on to a larger property in Highgate in north London as the family was expanding. The next family have moved on too. Interestingly, in this area of London some of the properties change hands frequently. This house had 4 different owners in the last 10 years…

Type of garden:
Special features:
Length of project:
Primrose Hill, North London NW3
Patio garden, roof terrace, front garden, contemporary
35 sqm patio
50k whole site
Sandstone, balau
Cantilevered bench, Mantis bench, planters
Japanese maple, Cercis 'Forest Pansy', bamboo, Phormium, Box
4 weeks
Modern European



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