Unused side garden of modern detached house in Portishead.
To design a quiet, secluded place to sit and take in the view beyond a gate to a magnificent old tree. The space needed a sense of purpose and be accessible throughout the year. My client’s wish list: a place for a bench, small water feature, wall screening and planting that would thrive in the predominantly shady aspect and poorly drained clay soil.
Having walls on 3 sides lent an air of intimacy and seclusion to an otherwise unused space. I sectioned off the main garden with a low screen of hedging to subtly enclose the space and create a transition from the main garden. The lawn was problematic as it was very wet in winter and cracked in summer. I decided to do away with the grass and instead designed a gravel garden. The gravel makes the space appear much larger, allows easy access all year and provides a lovely backdrop to planting.
Plants were specifically chosen to withstand the wet-dry conditions. Predominantly green and white planting lightens up the shady spaces between existing trees. A mixture of ferns, woodland grasses and textural evergreens are interspersed with spring bulbs earlier in the year and naturalistic perennials later on. This gently understated planting gives way to a pop of colour against a sunny white wall. Here the soil drainage was better and allowed for a wider range of plants. The expanse of the wall is broken up using a removable trellis covered in evergreen fragrant climbers. I echoed the warmth of a brick wall in the planting – using soft apricot tones. My client wanted the flexibility of containers and so I included a collection of topiary balls for all year structural interest plus pots of bulbs giving colour from spring through to autumn. Terracotta pots, a warm shade of gravel and a Cor-ten steel water bowl complete the look.
Back: Small Garden in Clevedon
Next: Large Garden, Clifton