Garden Design – St Johns Wood London NW7
Designer: Julian Sandell
St Johns Wood, London, NW7
I found Abstract Landscapes through ratedpeople.com as there were many positive testimonials on Julian, I decided to go forward with using him. He was very professional from the beginning. He delivered the quotation and would follow up efficiently. As both my partner & I are architectural designers, we already had a specific design in mind and Julian was very open in putting forward specific suggestions for construction methods, materials & plant types, to help bring our design to life. He is very proactive and would bring samples for us to view when requested as well as taking us to the actual nursery to discuss the different plant types available, so my partner & I could have a better understanding of what is out in the market. Julian has been very honest and responsible. He has also been understanding of our needs as a client, and always flexible and good at coming up with solutions to design problems. Overall, we are very happy with how Abstract Landscapes has brought our garden design idea to life.
- Water Blade water feature
- Buff polished sandstone paving
- 90mm Balau fencing
- 145mm Balau raised lounge platform
- Custom built, powder coated steel planter
- 240V Stainless steel lighting system
The St Johns Wood Garden Design
Whilst size is not important, small gardens do bring their own particular challenges for the garden designer, which must be addressed and overcome in order to maximise the potential for your personal enjoyment.
This mews garden on Abbey Road barely measured 3m x 4.5m with approximately two fifths of the space being occupied by a raised brick planter. To add further constraints, a freehold company controlled the gardens in the mews, with particularly draconian rules as to exactly what could and could not be done in the individual gardens. The fences could not be changed, but trellis could be attached as long as no weight was put on the existing fence. The raised brick planters had to remain and if any new surface was laid on the original block paving, it must be a; Removed before sale of the property and b; Cause no damage to the block paving.
Both of the clients worked and had general interest in the design industry, so when the brief came for a garden with clean modern lines and an understated air with the emphasis on the quality of the construction materials I was especially relieved. During our initial consultation it became apparent to the clients that paving was not completely out of the question, so long as a non-permeable membrane was laid to protect the underlying surface. The clients wished to use one side of the raised planter to form a sun bathing platform/cushioned reclining area whist the other side would remain as a planter, with a lush sub-tropical theme. They wished to have a water feature that would cascade into the planting area, and a unified fencing solution to balance the left and right hand boundaries.
I suggested paving with sawn edges, a calibrated thickness and a honed and polished surface, as these characteristics would all help to achieve the clean lined elegance the clients were looking for. In the end, we went for a buff polished sandstone, in 600mm x 600mm and 600mm x 300mm sizes. When laid in English bond, in alternating rows the effect is both contemporary and clean. With white cement utilised for the pointing mortar, a thoroughly contemporary look was achieved which helps to give the illusion of an increased floor area.
The paving occupied three fifths of the floor area, whilst a bed of white pebbles with stepping-stones occupied the remaining two fifths. This same ratio was repeated, but on the reverse side between the planting bed and lounge platform. This made the natural geometry particularly pleasing to the eye, with the upper level being a reverse of the lower level.
Venetian style fencing was constructed from 90mm wide, smooth profile, Brazilian Balau decking boards, secured horizontally with stainless steel screws to 75mm x 75mm posts, which looks both beautiful and helps to pull out the apparent width of the garden. The posts were secured to the existing if somewhat tired hardwood fence with “L” brackets, so that most of the weight of the new fence traveled down through the new posts into the ground, rather than through the old fence to keep within the restraints of the freehold company. A softwood frame was constructed and fixed to the top of the planter so that a lounge platform could be laid on top from 145mm Balau decking boards. A narrow 90mm board was used to face the platform, to both lighten the appearance of the construction and to provide a natural link to the two fences on either side.
A custom built, powder coated steel planter was positioned on the pebble bed along the right hand border, where bamboos were planted to create a lush screen, which would provide gentle and graceful movement in the slightest breeze. The main planting bed was filled with Fan palms, a large centrally positioned Phormium and two species of Astelias to provide the main architectural structure, whilst Iris’s, Zantedeschia Lilies and Crocosmias provide the flowering interest throughout the growing season.
Stainless steel down-lights have been used to provide general lighting for the seating area, whilst a combination of spotlights and up-lights provide drama by back lighting the general planting, the bamboo screen and the old brick walls.
Finally, a stainless steel water blade was installed within the fence to cascade into the centre of the planting bed. Combined with the lush planting, and Lotus flower water lily the sound and sight of rushing water has created the feeling of a small tropical paradise within this part of North West London, which feels almost twice the size of the original garden.