Well our season has certainly got off to an interesting, flying start.
We are always happy when we get a garden brief from busy working parents with young families, as we did recently. Whilst the aim is to create a productive, pretty garden which is low maintenance and fun for the kids, our cunning plan is always to create an enticing outdoor space which will encourage you busy parents out into the garden – more than you were intending!
We say, out with the overly large trampolines, and in with the coppiced wood for den building. We say out with the formal herbaceous borders, and in with ‘Herbery’ next to the kitchen door, the kids ‘rocket’ growing, ‘bean pole’ race, and the edible landscape. Replace some of the heavy evergreen shrubs which you were told you needed for ‘winter structure’ with fruit trees/bushes. Not forgetting of course to leave space for a little ‘cocktail corner’ chocka full of mint/basil/borage/strawberries etc, for botanical cocktails, whilst the kids enjoy sailing their toy boats in the (clean) drainpipes mounted onto a nearby fence which have been filled with water to form oceans of fun!
An important piece of advice we always give to busy parents and working folk is to leave a section of lawn grow until June/July. You will be amazed the lovely succession of wildflowers that grows through. See below a picture of a lawn in a block of flats we maintain in NW3. The pic was taken last June. Left alone, the lawn will fast become a magic carpet with pretty little plants such as daisies, speedwell, self-heal, buttercups and clovers. Oxeye daisies, cowslips might appear too. When allowing your lawn to grow you just have to shift your expectations of what a weed is!
By way of complete opposite to the native planting described above, we were recently totally inspired by ‘Le Jardin Secret’, Tom Stuart Smiths garden in Marrakesh. We are delighted to be re-creating a mini version of Le Jardin Secret on a roof terrace. We love the simple plant palette, the tonal hues of green, silver and purple. Whilst grasses are generally used in garden design to create a naturalistic look, there is something surprisingly formal yet impactful about the repeated planting of Stipa Tenuissima.
Warning all new clients, we hope you are not feeling as blue as we are? Blue in sense of the Majorelle Yves St Laurent Garden… Statement walls can look absolutely stunning in a small courtyard garden, interested in a Moroccan blue statement wall anyone?!
Talking about statement walls, whilst to-date we have been reluctant to deign and create green walls as a result of the extra water demand, believing them to be unsustainable; as a result of new irrigation systems coming on the market we have just taken on the brief to design a stunning green wall for a client. The wall will have two long strips of green packed full of wonderful heucharas, ferns and strappy grasses in shades of ginger, greens, marmalade and browns… watch this space.
Talking of sustainable gardens, we have recently been asked to design and create an extremely low maintenance front garden for a house containing several flats. Our idea revolves around creating a Beth Chatto’esque’ gravel garden. Borders will be replaced with a lovely hue of gravel out of which verbenas and other white and purple drought friendly plants will emerge.
In other news, our garden at the fab new Ceremony restaurant in NW5 continues to flourish. We particularly enjoyed the Pina-kale-adas we drunk there recently made from kale grown in the garden! With Transition Kentish Town, we are also working very hard on several local community gardens, which we are passionate about creating, free of charge. Coming soon, a ‘Green Machine putting the park back into parking’ in Kentish Town; an orchard in a secondly school football pitch (!) and another station cottage garden…