On this beautiful Bank Holiday, I’m thinking about gardens … as I’ve done on every rare occasion that the sun has come out this year which may explain why, with so many decisions to make on my house project, I’ve already tied down the garden design.
My garden, both front and back, is small by choice, see the back garden image directly below. Neither D nor I are gardeners, more like plant killers, so we have gardeners in to make even this small patch as lovely as it is.
Fully tiled, level access everywhere, some huge architectural plants, a few beautiful planters, a water feature (out of sight above but see the next image below) and just enough space to sit or look out. Don’t you just love those glorious orange trumpet flowers at the far end?
From inside the house, it all looks lovely. The image below was taken a few years ago and the, now well-established, plants soar upwards, over four metres high. So pretty towering over the Allison Armour Ball Fountain which is centrally located in front of the existing kitchen.
The kitchen and garden areas have become the gravitational focal point of the ground floor. When it’s cool, we sit in the glass-roofed, light-filled structure, looking out. On sunny days, we roll back the glass doors and the outside comes in … or it would except I don’t like insects and D rarely feels the urge to let air in so, mostly, the doors only go fully back when we have people here which is quite often, making the fold back doors a worthwhile feature.
As it is, it works for us so why change anything at all?
Mainly, the changes are being driven by the building project and, given that, it’s a chance to update and future-proof where we need to. So, what would I like to do?
Given a free choice, I’d really like this back garden, image below from Gardenista, without the gravel and with wheelchair access adjustments. However, as I’m unable to magic up a load of extra space, I’ll be sticking to emulating some elements of my ideal dream garden into my own more modest patch.
More images and info about my dream garden maybe found at: Designer Visit: The Black and Green Garden Of Chris Moss.
After chatting it all over with PH, my gardener, these are the plans we’ve decided upon, starting with the back garden:
The main issue out back is that we are levelling our internal floors and have decided to raise the back garden level to maintain my easy roll-in/out wheelchair access. It’s just a few inches in height and will involve a slope, previously inside the house, being placed along the side of the house, maintaining my all round wheelie access from back to front garden.
As all the tiling must come up, we will take the opportunity to rebuild all the beds, making them a little wider to allow our huge plants some space to keep growing.
With the beds down, we will explore the ‘dead’ space corner, marked B above, where we’ve struggled to grow anything for more than short periods, hoping to reinvigorate that patch with new soil, nutrients and planting.
The now-shabby black box surround to our refurbished water feature will be replaced with the lovely Verdi-Gris planter from Urbis.
New tiling to match that in the internal area, a few new planters – see some examples below, some fresh lighting … I’ve wanted the Catellani and Smith Fil De Fer exterior light for ever and I love the Vibia Halley and June range of garden lighting, and, maybe some relaxing chairs like those in my ideal garden above, being the Luxembourg Low Armchair by Fermob, and that’ll be job done for the next couple of decades.
Moving on to the front garden, there is, thankfully, less to do.
Currently, the front garden is fully tiled with big slabs for easy wheeling. We have parking to the side with wheelchair access from the area directly in front of the house. Huge trees screen the front of the house in a bed alongside the pavement, protecting us from blistering sun – the front is south facing – as well as hiding us from passers by, as seen in the image below.
The major changes to the front will be re-paving because the existing tiles are cracking, and likely to be more so after the building works, and replacing the trees at the front. This is our plan:
Although the trees aren’t the prettiest thing, I would keep them but one of the five is dead and their massive roots have burst through the front wall, affecting the pavement outside. We have no choice other than to rebuild the wall and stop further damage to the pavement before it’s so bad that wheelchairs and buggies can’t get past.
So, the trees come down, the front wall too, and we chop the trees, grind the roots and replace. We’ll have to buy in some decent size replacements to give us the sun cover and privacy that we need and I’m hoping to up the wow factor with something like these fabulous Hornbeams to be seen in the garden of Temple Guiting Manor:
For the flagstones, I’m thinking to stick with the original Yorkshire stone or something similar and we will need to create some front garden storage for the unsightly rubbish bins, currently in the side passage … or move our gate back and put them along the side in front of it. Shame to hide the gate though.
Broadly, however, that’s it: a totally wheelchair accessible front and back garden, revamped, looking good.
Happy Sunny Days 🌞