Our first task was to remove an overgrown, misshapen Sycamore tree; this unintended plant obscured precious daylight, and depleted soil nutrients, while indenting a shared boundary. With the tree removed, we redefined the garden space into three distinct zones, and focused on enhancing outdoor privacy. Having designed and built the next-door garden, we had a thorough grasp of Islington's microclimate, and to enable contemporary garden design nuances, we recycled existing Yorkstone via a reclamation yard – replacing it with new sandstone.
With six elevations at various angles enveloping this 35-square-metre garden, we sought to create an effortless, unfussy design to mould a cohesive layout. A Buff sandstone grid defines the hard landscape around the built-in seating, while Balau decking merges with the interior floor. A raised bed features tall Bamboo, adding essential seclusion, enhanced by Silver birch and Japanese maple trees which produce eye-catching, contrasting focal points. A semi-cantilevered bench design was integrated into the raised bed, where its elegant seat repeats the deck's linear detail. Floating above smooth, silky sandstone, the cavity below the bench emits a warm glow at dusk, amid a distinctly low maintenance scheme.
Our clients selected a striking colour palette for the boundaries; the back wall's deep slate-grey hue highlights the emerald tones of lush Bamboo, fusing with surrounding roofscapes. The raised bed's lighter taupe complements natural surface materials, and recedes into the backdrop – increasing sense of space; its side elevations feature a light tone to enhance luminosity. We were chuffed to see an angle added later on by the clients onto the elevation beside the raised bed, creating a permanent shadow pattern, where this play of light tricks the eye into greater sense of depth – materialised through a dynamic, client-designer reciprocation of courtyard garden ideas.
The clients were keen to include a green wall, and the decked lounge area provided an ideal location. The small, space-saving feature was mounted onto a walled elevation, enabling ample room below for socialising. With discreet irrigation and subtle drainage details, this verdant zone is efficient and environmentally friendly, producing a captivating, textural centrepiece viewed from an indoor study.
The elegant anthology of contemporary outdoor furniture, compiled sensitively by the clients, enhances lasting ambience with slim seat profiles – conveyed amid a vitalising, vibrant colour palette. We've enjoyed bountiful hospitality while working on site, when every guest savoured a delicate spread of culinary delights, cordially prepared in the warmth of this sunlit garden. It's undeniably heartwarming to see the outdoor space frequently used, within an engaging setting.
Just the one pink wire chair, added by the clients, creates refined focus, and Ella the cat agrees too, as she weaves herself among this sanguine garden architecture. We love the thoughtfulness in creating a triad of cerise tones between the Japanese maple, Dogwood and pink chair, while vividly contrasting its slate-grey background.
We utilised a resourceful technique for the raised bed's design & build. To conserve the fence behind, minimise supplementary earth, and enhance sense of depth, the cavity wasn't backfilled, and planted with Bamboo, similar to the species we established previously in the neighbouring garden. Our clients next door have an upper terrace, which overlooks this space, and the vigorous Phyllostachys aurea had filled the bare boundary instantaneously, providing seclusion, where efficient irrigation augments moisture for its contained roots. The sunbeams filtering through translucent Bamboo foliage produce serene atmosphere at daybreak.
‘bloodgood’ so good
There are hundreds of Japanese maple cultivars and varieties, yet only several are truly remarkable. Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ is at the apex, invigorating many shaded patio garden settings. In this sheltered corner, enveloped by brick walls, this architectural Maple produces dainty textures, generating graceful silhouettes onto smooth sandstone and rendered elevations. With a verdant veil of Bamboo as its backdrop, this small deciduous tree enjoys a cosy microclimate, enhancing the garden with an enchanting crimson palette – ranging from lush spring tones to an exquisite autumnal afterglow.
The red-barked Siberian Dogwood, Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, is at the zenith of a winter architectural garden. Selected by the clients to complete a triangle of red hues, this indispensable, unfussy shrub produces energising presence. Fast-growing Dogwood stems are useful for indoor displays, forming valuable additions for a wildlife garden with nectar-rich, white blooms and delicate berries favoured by birds. Featured in a sculptural vase, the Cornus completes our seasonal cycle mindset, enhancing an all-year-round design approach.
a contemporary milieu
You won't get much more pizzazz in six square miles than in cheery Islington. Perhaps it's the proximity to Camden, Highbury, Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and Hoxton? From Upper Street to Gainsborough Studios, Chapel Market and every fine Georgian terrace in between, we enjoy creating a multitude of gardens, roof terraces, courtyards and patios here. Islington's broad spectrum of outdoor spaces – from minimalist to Mediterranean, wildlife to family gardens, and brand-new canalside penthouse rooftops – defines an urban factor as buoyant as can be.