A challenging space
We don't all live in houses, and we don't all have ordinary gardens.
The location here is ideal for the west end and Islington, and the apartment was in a huge, but stylish converted period office and HQ building. The overall feeling of the block was one of comfort, security and style. My client was fortunate to have some outside space, but it was awkward in shape and overlooked - below ground level, and certainly not a reflection of the style and quality presented in the interior. The walls and surfaces were for the most part overbearing, and virtually nothing had been done by the developers to address this.
My client wanted to use his outside space, and was very keen on having a garden of sorts. With no opportunity for planting in the ground, he had been using container plants as much as possible to try an achieve a sense of natural seclusion.
It was instantly apparent that the solution was to as far as possible, change the surfaces, and include a lot more planting, to overcome the massiveness of the walls and immediate environment, and bring colour and softness to the area.
Firstly, the large, established Cordyline trees were thinned and their foliage trimmed to a height, The ugly sloping stone surface was removed, and the higher area terraced in length to provide new planting space.
A long panel with a narrow planted box top was constructed in front of the old brick wall, to provide another 'strip' of planting. Lead covered timber planters were positioned in the deck area against the building walls, to break up the long narrow space, and a large suspended planter was constructed above the pond, under the railing - this was to take a strip of bamboos to form a screen from the street level. New soil was imported throughout.
The pond included a spillway - the sound of the falling water lessened the focus on street noise, and gave visual interest, the end wall was finished in a neutral
colour. The angled top of the long wall was dressed with slate, and all of the new timber surfaces were painted.
A hardwood Iroko deck was laid, level with the threshold to the apartment, so that it merged well with the parquet floor inside.
Lighting and irrigation was installed and a lush mixed planting was selected, together with bamboo and grass screening along the top railings for better privacy.
The result was a tranquil garden space, in a built up area. The work aroused a lot of interest from passing neighbours in the building - happy to say that a few years on, the neighbours could hardly see through!