The garden is on two levels and was linked by a set of concrete steps that had seen better days. It is small and dark, and sunlight only ever reaches the upper part of the garden for a few hours every afternoon.
Scoular started by enclosing the garden with decorative timber fencing. Meta, one of a collection of themed garden products from the Garden Inspirations range by Finnforest, was chosen for its modern combined timber and metal aesthetic.
Thermowood decking, which is steam heated to prevent warping and shrinkage, was then laid on both the lower and upper surfaces of the garden. It is low maintenance and, because it is ridged, non-slip.
Planting in this little garden is led by foliage rather than flowers, for a year-round display of colour and texture. Scoular introduced plenty of variation with different leaf shapes and variegated colour tones. Where the deck catches the afternoon sun, a steel planter filled with lavender and thyme produces a heady scent, while shade-tolerant plants such as clematis, Acanthus mollis, Helleborus argutifolius and Lonicera periclymenum dominate elsewhere.
24-hour garden party
With the introduction of low-level and deck lighting an outdoor party area has been created that can be used long after the sun has set. Integrated deck lights were mixed with coloured spotlights in blue, amber and aqua, while a bulkhead was positioned over the kitchen doors for practicality.
In a small space there are several ways of creating the illusion of more space:
- Narrow timber laths on the fence panels
- Reflect more light into the garden by painting walls and verticals of steps in a light colour, such as ivory
- Use a limited palette to avoid a ‘busy’ appearance
- Introduce changes of level to add interest and a sense of ‘exploration’
- Detract the eye with interesting planting and accessories such as planters and lighting
- Garden Inspirations range and deck lights from Finnforest (www.finnforest.co.uk; 0845 602 4773)
- Aileen Scoular, garden designer (firstname.lastname@example.org; 07711 629285)