Urban Oasis: a pocket garden in the heart of the City

Peter Reader Landscapes was approached by Kenham Building Ltd who were re-developing a Victorian postal office in a prestigious West London location into a secluded luxury house covering 750sq m with 5 bedrooms and a 20m basement swimming pool. Central to the design was an open courtyard area which the key rooms and bedrooms wrapped around through 2 stories. In keeping with the move to ‘greening the city’, Kenham where keen that the space felt like a garden rather than a courtyard. Given the integral position of the garden it was important that the garden and house flowed together and that the garden delivered a real ‘wow’ factor to the overall design.

Despite the small size of the garden (56 sq m), Peter Reader Landscapes was keen to divide the space with level changes, virtual rooms and small journeys. These features serve to give the garden interest, whilst a blend of construction materials including white render, a powder coated steel rill and planters, limestone pavers and black pebbles add beauty and keep the garden cohesive as a whole. The three areas designed into the garden are, a bench seating area under pleached, evergreen Quercus ilex trees, a ‘floating’ patio providing space for alfresco dining, and an area of raised planters containing evergreen topiary and perennials. Water tumbles into the garden from a steel blade in the far wall, through a series of falls, and snakes under the floating patio, finally finishing in a pool at the opposite side of the garden. The flowing water creates soothing sounds and visual movement, whilst the still pool reflects the sky and brings light and space into the centre of the house. The main pathway zig-zags through the raised planters before crossing over the pool. At this end of the garden are the large sliding glass doors into the house, allowing the living areas and the garden to blend seamlessly together as the matching grey limestone slabs of both inside and out flow together. Planting consists of evergreen topiary giving all year structure and character, complemented by a mix of shade-tolerant plants selected for varying leaf colours and shapes. Finally, a select palette of repeat flowering hardy perennials provides for a long season of colourful interest.

Given the small space that is very fixed by its solid wall boundaries and the complexity of features such as the water feature, this project required enormous attention to detail and close working with the architects and other artisans involved in its delivery. However, with this garden, Peter Reader Landscapes demonstrates that with ambition and meticulous design, truly beautiful and very useable gardens can be achieved in the smallest of city spaces.

For more details on this project and others with our portfolio please visit us at: www.readerlandscapes.com.
Tom St. Aubyn Photography Ltd

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