This end of terrace courtyard was dominated by an enormous back wall and a tall palm tree on the left. Yet it also had inspirational Italian owners and a fabulous collection of some mature architectural plants. I decided to retain all the plants in their positions as I felt this was an integral fabric of the garden. Only one plant was to be removed – an overgrown Viburnum in the right corner – to be replaced with a beautiful multi-stem bronzed trunk Tibetan Cherry. Coincidentally, retaining the plants enabled a diagonal design to be implemented, which meanders through the trees.
The courtyard is viewed through an enormous glass window that runs the height of the building. As such I wanted to create a dynamic floor pattern that could be appreciated from above as well as from the kitchen adjoining the garden. Having spent time with the clients studying their interior and collection of contemporary art I had a good sense of the energy levels needed in the garden to link the outdoor space to the house. Although my palette of my materials is usually restricted, here I felt I could use at least half a dozen textures yet keep a meaningful design.
The diagonal lines create bays alternating between granite, limestone and artificial grass. The join between each bay is accentuated by a light strip, which gives the courtyard a dramatic appearance at night. Where I would usually not use so many lights in a small urban garden design, here I felt that pushing the lighting to the max would benefit the space. By separating the strips, the bench, the walls and the plants various moods can be achieved.
When working in small courtyard gardens in central London, more often than not, scale or rather the lack of it forms the essential basis to any design. Here, in order to balance the presence of the tall back wall and palm tree, interest at eye level in the form of lower planting, planters and seating aids in balancing the space. With such a linear floor plan and an unmovable tree trunk a curved bench was conceived. The sinuous modern bench contrasts delightfully with the lines of the floor. It was powder coated the same colour as the planters on the right and is light weight in appearance allowing the surfaces to flow underneath it.Location: Highbury, UK Designer: MyLandscapes LTD | Amir Schlezinger
Photographs: Amir Schlezinger