Garden Design – Hampstead London NW3
Designer: Julian Sandell
Hampstead, London NW3
“Julian worked magic on our tiny garden, transforming it from a scruffy patch of mismatched plants and bare earth, which detracted from the overall attractiveness of the house, into a design feature of the property. He neatened up all of the spaces using contrasting white stones to emphasise the new clean lines of the design, and rationalised the planting, clearly demonstrating that less really is more!
Lighting is crucial, especially in a small space, and Julian knew instantly how to reorganise the lighting to maximise the dramatic effects.
In addition to his knowledge and design insights, Julian was able to run the project without us being in the country. Throughout the work, he was very communicative and extremely pleasant and efficient to deal with, and we always knew the project was in safe hands. We would highly recommend him to anyone who would like to make the most of their outside space and look forward to working with him in the future.”
- New Lighting System
- New Planting Scheme
- New Stone Surface & Garden Layout
- 20m of Laurel Hedging
- New Water Supply & Irrigation System
The Hampstead Garden Design
This charming 18th century cottage on Hampstead’s Frognal was in desperate need of a garden makeover to help maximise its rental potential, following the refurbishment by its new owner.
In fact it was neglect in the garden, which had caused some of the main problems inside the building. An old standpipe and irrigation system had leaked unnoticed for what must have been a considerable time directly into the large lounge at the front of the property, rendering the original oak flooring condemned, so a new oak floor including many of the joists had to be installed at a fairly significant cost. The once beautiful garden had not faired much better, being comprised almost completely of dusty soil, leaves and weeds with a central area of York stone flags completely buried under the detritus.
There was no definition or shape to the majority of the garden space and a large percentage of the area was taken up by what can only be described as a bizarrely placed box hedge plantation laid out in grid pattern and an equally oddly placed collection of three 5ft tall tree ferns.
However, there were some beautiful plants which still survived, including a large Wisteria that climbed around the front of the cottage, a great collection of ferns and Hellebores and the afore mentioned tree ferns were in spectacular condition. But it was in fact a massive and very old Holm oak tree, which dominated and defined the garden; an evergreen species from the Iberian Peninsula, with a huge umbrella-like canopy. These trees gently drop small leaves all year and suck up every available drop of water. It was these characteristics and the shady conditions being created that were the main cause of the dry and dusty garden.
The main brief was to clear away the quirky idiosyncrasies and to provide a clear definition and shape to the garden. This included laying a new stone surface, new edging with definition to the planting beds, installing a new unified planting structure with a robust irrigation system and then once everything was in place, to illuminate the planting and the building to make the most of its aspect.
Apart from removing some 60-70 Box plants and clearing away the soil and leaf debris, the first thing to do was to move the water tap away from the building to the far side of the garden so there could be no repeats of the accident that caused so much damage to the property. This meant running a 600mm channel across the garden and under the brick pathway so that we could secure the new standpipe against the perimeter wall. We then used a slate grey 100mm steel edging strip to define the borders, which we swept around the garden to produce graceful curves. The York flags were cleaned and scrubbed to remove the soil, before the surrounding ground was sealed with weed sheeting and a cream Cotswold stone chipping laid on top and between the flags.
Whilst the garden did have an open southern aspect, the size of the Holm oak meant that every area within the garden would be in shade for at least half of the day so it was important to use plants that could cope. A lush semi sub-tropical tropical planting theme was employed, as this would both thrive under the prevailing conditions and complement the existing ferns and particularly the large tree ferns. Six varieties of New Zealand flax (Phormiums) were used to create a kaleidoscope of green foliage, which also includes reds, yellows, blues, pinks and oranges, providing colour all year round.
Dozens of white Zantedeschia Lilies were added to further develop the sub tropical feel, where their large heart shaped leaves provide beautiful structure and form. More flowering perennials were added in the form of Iris and Crocosmia, so even with the limited direct sunlight, the garden will remain in flower from April through to the end of September. More evergreen structure was created with the introduction of extra ferns on the darkest side of the garden and holes in the Laurel hedging were filled with 5ft specimens to give 100% privacy from the road.
Finally a new lighting system was added, replacing the tired old 240V install for a stainless steel, low voltage, wireless switched system. We doubled the number of lamps from the previous system so that we could up light the tree and tree ferns, the architecture of the building, the curves of the beds and the new planting within. Because they are low voltage LED lights there is no danger of causing light pollution and reflecting the light from the walls of the building back onto the plants further reduces the glow, whilst creating drama at the same time.
Now the garden which was previously letting the property down, has become the main feature instead. The garden now amplifies the beauty of the building and even more so at night when illuminated amongst these beautiful plants.