Garden Tour: A Curvy Lawn and All-season Plants Soften a City Plot
A long, thin garden has been transformed by a sinuous lawn and gorgeous planting that adds colour and interest year-round
Her first suggestion was to scrap the straight-up-and-down lawn and replace it with a design based on two ovals. This introduces movement to the scheme and also seems to widen the garden. For the planting, Jo chose a mix that would bring year-round interest and also, at the rear of the garden, handle the shade produced by a giant copper beech tree.
Who lives here? A couple with three children
Location Palmers Green, north London
Garden dimensions 24m (not including the side return) x 6.6m; part of a semi-detached, late Victorian house
Designer Jo Fenton of Fenton Roberts Garden Design
The lawn area is a design of two ovals, set slightly on the diagonal. “Clients often ask for waviness in their garden design,” Jo says. “They often want wavy flowerbeds, but that can make your lawn look odd. So we designed the lawn based on ovals, then just made the beds around that as wide as we could.”
“They wanted something a bit more interesting, rather than grass and two tramline beds down each side,” Jo says. “They felt it was boring and wanted some attractive planting that would look good all year round.”
Creating a good-sized patio was also a priority. “They didn’t have anywhere to eat,” she adds. “The original patio by the French doors was tiny.”
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Taken in the spring, this picture shows beds brimming with Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii and a red Nandina domestica, which was already growing in the garden when it was redesigned.
Reclaimed sleepers were laid to bridge the gap between the new lawn and the raised deck and shed at the very back of the garden.
Other plants in this corner include the hydrangea ‘Annabelle’, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ and Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’.
The woodland garden is at its best during spring and early summer before the copper beech has fully opened its leaves. The colour scheme here is pink, blue and white, with lots of bluebells and Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. The plant at the very back is a Kerria japonica, which can handle this dry, shady spot. “It flourishes in difficult places,” Jo says.
The garden has a second blooming period in late summer, when pink sedum and penstemons combine with white roses and hydrangeas.
“They had herbs in there, but nothing was growing because it’s so shady,” she adds. “The area got filled with junk.”
Two olive trees are planted in deep pots. “The pots are made from plastic that looks like ceramic but is really durable and doesn’t crack,” Jo says.
Plastic planters, Europlanters. Monsoon paving, Global Sandstone Collection at Global Stone
A large bay tree near the house was retained, as well as a sizeable cotoneaster, on the right in this picture with red berries, and a philadelphus tucked in by the shed. “The cotoneaster tree was never planted, but arrived via birds who had eaten the berries then left droppings,” Jo says. “We pruned it and allowed it to stay put. It brings height to the garden.”
Two conical trees, Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Queen’, were added to the garden. One failed and has been replaced with a smaller plant (just out of shot). It’s already catching up with the one seen here on the right. “Given time, they’ll both form tall, vertical accents,” Jo says.
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