Garden Tour: A Colourful, Calming Haven for a 1960s Bungalow
A scrappy lawn has been transformed into a beautiful, plant-filled garden providing views from every room in the house
Who lives here? An interior designer and a film editor with grown-up children
Location Putney Heath, south-west London
Property A 1960s bungalow
Garden dimensions Approx 22m x 13m
Designer Lucy Willcox of Lucy Willcox Garden Design
Photos by Lucy Willcox
“There were a couple of things that needed to be considered,” Lucy says of her design. “One was the budget, two were the views out from inside the house, and three was how the garden was going to be used and would be interconnected.”
She tackled the space by designing a series of outdoor rooms, but made sure they were linked visually. “Some parts of the garden are much sunnier than others, so it was about trying to tie those areas together within the same planting scheme,” she says.
The entrance to the house is to the left of the kitchen-diner, and Lucy created space for a kitchen garden down the side, plus a smart leafy patch to welcome visitors by the front door.
“There wasn’t a huge budget, so the most obvious thing to do was a really big planting scheme, because there’s such a big cost difference between putting in hard and soft landscaping,” Lucy explains. “But there needed to be some sort of balance in the space and somewhere to catch a bit of sun.”
The boardwalk is the perfect solution, sitting lightly amid the planting and creating a spot for loungers.
To connect the garden to the interiors, Lucy chose colours that chimed with the furnishings in the bedrooms, picking out the pinks of one room with Centranthus and Persicaria, and the lime greens of the other with Euphorbia (see next photo).
“It’s subtle, but it helps to add to the calm feeling through continuity,” she says.
The soft purple spires are Agastache.
The two key hard landscaping areas – this one outside the bedrooms and the other near the kitchen-diner – are ipe hardwood decking. “Because it was a fairly small area, it was worth paying for the hardwood, and it should last for a very long time,” Lucy says.
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The garden luckily already had a leafy boundary, which Lucy kept. The original wall (on the left here) is draped with a vine; the back is lined with conifers, and the fence opposite the brick wall, by the dining area, is softened by a mature beech hedge.
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“I sat in the garden for a good couple of hours, so I could see where the sun was moving and get a feel for views, which spaces felt nice to look at from the house, which spaces felt nice to sit in, and what might work with an existing tree,” she says. “You need to get used to a space and get a feel for it.”
Luckily, the owners were happy to embrace the idea of seedheads and grasses for winter interest. “Fifteen years ago, people were wanting much more pristine spaces, but now there’s a movement for a wilder feel,” Lucy says. “People have a better understanding of what an outside space can bring, rather than expecting an immaculate garden all the time, which is just unrealistic. They’re happy to embrace the seasons more.”
“There’s also repetition with the contrast in form and texture of the plants,” she continues. “For instance, Sedum, with a flat head, next to the spikes of the Persicaria and grasses.
The grasses include Anemanthele lessoniana and Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’.
The pavers were part of an existing patio, which Lucy lifted and reused. “They’re standard concrete slabs from the 1960s,” she says. “They have quite a nice exposed aggregate look and they fit with the house.”
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“It’s actually quite a simple layout, but it’s the planting that gives it that wow factor,” Lucy says. “Sometimes, it’s easy to overcomplicate things, and actually [it’s best to] keep it fairly simple, then let the plants do the talking.”
The purple flowers seen here are Aquilegia.
The genius of Lucy’s design lies in her having created different spaces, each with its own mood yet a sense of calm cohesion. Whether the owners want to be in sun or shade, there’s always somewhere to sit in this beautiful garden.
What do you love about Lucy’s design? Share your thoughts in the Comments.