Courtyard garden

The owners of this modern Oxford town house  were young professionals who were looking for a low maintenance garden with minimal clutter, clean lines and an element of drama. It is a small space (50 sq metres). Simple, bold lines arranged in a strong and clear rhythm, together with a restricted palette in the planting make for a stylish contemporary garden.

Colour plays a strong role – the walls are rendered and painted variously purple, white and orange. Orange-stemmed bamboos echo the orange and contrast the purple beautifully.

The clients used their bikes every day and needed to stow them somewhere. I designed a bike rack with backlighting and a pull-down mesh screen onto which is printed a photograph of their home town Hong Kong.

Over to the right is a terrace area surfaced with polished concrete and edged with pebbles. The path leads to the main feature, the scooped cedar deck, which evokes a breaking wave or a skater’s halfpipe. It is a space in which to lounge and enjoy the sun. Supported by a concrete base, it appears to float above the neighbouring water area and the approach path, also made of cedar. The water’s edge tucks right underneath and flows round behind the deck which adds uplift and intrigue. Lighting under the deck adds drama and a party atmosphere at night.

During the day a stunning array of circular shadows cast by an annular overhead structure (see perspective views) will play on the right hand wall, the deck and the water. This metal arbour projects back into the balcony whose floor is at this point glass, revealing the rings and allowing light down to the terrace.

The sound of water cascading into the pool will resound under the balcony, having a cocooning effect and it will also connect the terrace to the other areas. The circular shapes on the left wall are living wall elements fed with an irrigation system housed inside the wall. The living wall, composed of dwarf mondo grass is underplanted with Phormium tenax, Phormium ‘Bronze Baby’ and Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’. The bamboo to the rear is Phyllostachys vivax ‘Aureocaulis’.