These might seem like two unrelated items, but they are not. First, several years ago I got it into my head that I wanted to work internationally but hadn’t found the right opportunity to make it happen. And, second I don’t often get to design urban gardens in my landscape design practice. When the chance came my way to do both I jumped in!
British interior designer, Heather Jenkinson, who is also a friend, asked me to design the two small gardens at either end of her new apartment near Dartmouth Park in London.
We will be working together remotely (more on the tools and trials of that in a here and in future posts) until the actual installation to bring her relaxed, contemporary style (above) outside in a way that will extend the apartment’s overall look to her front and back gardens. In May, I’ll visit to make sure everything is going smoothly and to troubleshoot anything that isn’t.
The mostly north-south facing walled courtyards face the street on two sides as the corner apartment spans a single block. Solutions for both privacy and security are paramount in the design process. Heather’s two small dogs will have access to both gardens. My first challenge has been to visualize using metric measurements! Millimeters and centimeters to inches and feet. Mind blown. What exactly does 4′ mean in metric? 1219.2 mm! The converter on my phone and in my CAD software have become close, overworked companions. We have also started using an iPhone map called appropriately Photo Measures that allows you to put a question mark or a measurement easily on an image and email or export it to another platform. I always miss something when I measure a site and there is no option here to just ‘run over there’ to get what I need.
Small spaces have to make every inch (centimeter?!) count and are in many ways more challenging than a large expansive landscape because of that. The front garden is 13.5′ long by 8′ wide and has two street facing walls that are approximately 3′ tall. There is a sliding door from the living room with a step down to the garden floor that is centered on the long side facing the street. A combination of a partial (and silly) wood fence and brick wall on remaining short boundary that separates it from the neighboring garden. Currently an overgrown, shaggy evergreen tree dominates the east wall. I’m not one to remove trees, but this one has to go to make the garden even minutely useful!
The front is adjacent the living room and will be transformed into an extension of that public area for extra seating and extending entertaining in the warmer months. In my preliminary plan I have included horizontal slat fence extensions for the brick walls, espaliered hornbeams to define a vertical green layer that will help create even more privacy from passersby but won’t take up too much room, and a small water feature to help mask street noise and that will create a focal point from the long view through the apartment to the garden. There will be a mirrored window on the west side fenced wall that will serve to make the garden look bigger, create a garden view from the living room sectional and also to reflect some sunlight. The unusable portion of the step from the slider will be removed to create an intimate seating area with a small love seat and occasional table opposite the mirrored wall. The ground surface will be gravel that is easy on dog’s feet and even easier to clean up!
The second garden is directly off the bedroom and will become a private, meditative haven for a busy designer. I haven’t started the conceptual for that although I can clearly see a soothing lounge space in my mind’s eye so watch here (on a totally random schedule) or subscribe via the email link in the sidebar to see the complete makeover as it progresses over the next several months.