How to create a garden as a continuation of the house

Indoors and outdoors merge seamlessly at this chic coach house in Little Venice.
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When the architect and garden designer have a dialogue from the start, you can expect the best possible results. Case in point is a Victorian coach house in Little Venice, with a sleek, contemporary interior that needed a courtyard garden to complement. Architect Sally Mackereth called in garden designer Chris Moss, and they discussed using the same palette of materials inside and outside, as much as possible. "It's so important that the garden relates to the house, so there is a feeling of unity," says Moss. "For me, the advantage of working this way is huge, both from creative and practical viewpoints."

The garden is just nine metres wide by seven metres. "Whenever I work in a small town garden, I like to introduce several different textures in the space to give it variety," says Moss. He used the same poured concrete finish as the living room floor, so that there is a continuous, seamless sweep from indoors to outdoors. "You walk on a completely level threshold so there isn't a feeling of being either inside or outside. And one of the entrances to the garden is a huge cantilevered window which opens outwards like a glass canopy, so you can be outside and enjoy the garden — in the rain."

A unique wall that is used both indoors and outdoors is a real tour de force. The veneer is made of Japanese porcelain tiles, laid horizontally, so that, painstakingly built up, they have a wonderful pleated effect. "The wall provides a great horizontal plane that leads the eye out into the garden," explains Moss. "It is expensive, but it gives a really wonderful texture and has the effect of widening the garden. I've added cushions of green box in front of the wall, to make a lively contrast."

Glass canopy, right: a cantilevered window provides shelter at the entrance. Textural wall, left: porcelain tiles, built up in layers, create a pleated effect

At the back of the garden, Moss decided on a wall of slatted cedarwood that provides similar horizontal lines to the pleated wall, then added a clipped hornbeam hedge in front to make a green backdrop, and lend a sense of depth to the space. As it is in a conservation area, an existing ash tree had to stay, so Moss built a cedarwood deck around it that creates another level, and added, just beyond it, a green plinth of clipped box that has the same proportions as the house's large chimney. The deck, backed by a wisteria on a pale rendered wall, receives most sun, so it was the ideal spot for table and chairs. These were designed by Mackereth and are made of reconstructed stone that again refers back to the house interior.

Just beyond the deck, a patch of gravel adds a soft texture to contrast with the concrete floor, and is planted with perennials that surround a handsome zinc water trough. "It is a similar metal to the one used on the staircases and in the kitchen, the water provides a reflective element and I like the strong, structural shape. In winter you see the trough clearly, and in summer it is veiled in plants."

Evergreen structure in the town garden is essential, says Moss. "In small gardens you are generally looking out on to the space, so it has to hold its form throughout the year, which is why I used box, horizontally pruned and as cushions, as well as the hornbeam hedge. "But you can't just use evergreens, so at the front of the cedarwood wall is a line of Hydrangea paniculata, along with Japanese anemones, for later flowers. And though the planting area is small around the trough, I designed it so that there is something to please the eye from April to October, with tulips and alliums in spring, followed by white verbascum, aruncus and billowing catmint, Nepeta racemosa Walkers Low. Miscanthus Morning Light, a white variegated grass, gives a great lightness to the garden, while ferns associate well with water."

Chris Moss:
Reconstructed stone table and chairs: designed by Sally Mackereth and titled Cast 001. They can be commissioned from
Zinc water trough: from Domani at The Chelsea Gardener (

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