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12 Romantic Courtyards and Walled Gardens

Lush plantings, weathered materials and privacy rule in these want-to-be-there outdoor rooms

Lush plantings, weathered finishes and intimate seating are just some of the elements that bring drama and romance to the following 12 courtyards and walled gardens. While each dream space adds its own flavour, from a secluded courtyard in Spain to a tropical patio in Florida, all do so in confined spaces using ideas that the rest of us could use in our gardens. “I would suggest having some big ideas or significant features that contrast with the modest scale of the space,” says architect Rupert Wheeler, who designed the first garden on our list. Or we could just admire the beautiful photos.

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1. Location: London

Why we love it: In this back garden, water features, clipped hedges and rambling roses conceal what once was a fur factory. Steel beams and brick walls, remnants of the original building, peek out from beneath the lush greenery, barely hinting at this garden’s previous life. “It is the very tight composition of the x, y and z axis [vertical, horizontal and longitudinal axis] that creates the drama and always allows the garden to look good, however overgrown or out of control the planning might get,” Wheeler says.

How to Design the Cosiest Outdoor Space

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2. Location: Scottsdale, Arizona

Why we love it: This is one of those spaces where everything about it feels right. “There are four elements that contribute to the overall ‘feel’ of the space,” architect Gene Kniaz says. “The corner fireplace, the small antique stone fountain, the stone staircase that takes you up to guest rooms on the second floor and the view to the Reata Wash beyond. I think the narrow and tall proportions of the space also really contribute to its romantic and authentic feel.”

Fountain basin: Studio Ressource; brick: reclaimed Chicago Common (a great cost- effective stand-in for antique terra-cotta pavers), Colonial Brick, Chicago

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3. Location: Bari, Italy

Why we love it: The gnarled grapevines, white plaster walls and tuff stone transport us straight to the Mediterranean, where this island courtyard is located. A cafe table and chairs, shaded by the vine leaves, encourage an extended meal outside.

Browse more photos of small Mediterranean gardens

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4. Location: Sydney

Why we love it: On any given evening, we’d like to sit back and relax with an outdoor meal listening to the soft trickle from the nearby fountain. Thick foliage offers privacy, and subtle outdoor lighting means hours of lingering.

Find accessories for your garden in the Houzz shop

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5. Location: London

Why we love it: A sheepskin rug and colourful throw cushions lend a bohemian quality to this Notting Hill walled garden, as stylist Molly Bell intended to create an extension of the living space. “I wanted to evoke a feeling of calm and tranquility in the middle of London,” she says. While these textiles wouldn’t stay outside all the time, you could bring them out for romantic evenings around the fire or buy outdoor cushions instead.

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6. Location: Sydney

Why we love it: You don’t need luxe furniture and an over-the-top view for a romantic outdoor seating area, as this corner in Sydney shows. Rustic brick, soft ground cover and sprawling vines almost make us feel as if we’ve discovered forgotten ruins, while the fire bowl and outdoor cushions let us know we might as well stay awhile.

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7. Location: Minorca, Spain

Why we love it: With its clean lines and geometric accent screen, this intimate corner is a modernist paradise. Add to that the seating for two and lush foliage beyond, and we’ve got the ingredients for a perfect romantic Mediterranean escape.

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8. Location: Yokohama, Japan

Why we love it: In this contemporary courtyard, a low roofline and grouping of potted trees create a feeling of intimate enclosure, while sliding glass walls provide us with a view through the house all the way to Tokyo Bay.

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9. Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Why we love it: Surrounded on all sides by water and lush, tropical foliage, this “floating” courtyard in Florida gets as close to a jungle retreat as we can imagine, while mod lounge seats and a nearby kitchen promise hours of relaxing in the sun with beverage and snacks in hand.

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10. Location: Los Angeles

Why we love it: This alfresco dining corner balances elegance with a feeling that nature is trying to reclaim it. The whitewashed walls and crunchy gravel floor could put this West Los Angeles courtyard in a remote Mediterranean village, while the trailing chartreuse foliage cascading over the walls and shooting up from the built-in planter hint at a wildness that might lie just beyond the garden.

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11. Location: Washington, D.C.

Why we love it: This walled back garden in Georgetown takes you out of the bustle of the city, as a densely planted privacy screen encloses the space and blurs the garden’s boundaries. We can imagine reclining on one of the garden’s matching chaise lounges and enjoying the relaxing and cooling effect of the soft streams of water pouring from the brick fountain into the petite plunge pool.

Garden Tour: Waves, Wildflowers and ‘Cliffs’ Conjure up the Coast

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12. Location: Minorca, Spain

Why we love it: Once again we return to the Mediterranean island of Minorca, where this walled courtyard is tucked behind a 19th-century home. The bright white walls feel sunny and cool at the same time, while the overstuffed built-in sofa framed by vibrant green invites hours of lounging on a sunny afternoon.

Which of these gardens is your favourite? Let us know, or post a photo of a garden you love from elsewhere on Houzz in the Comments.

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