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Garden Tour: A Small London Plot is a Calm and Peaceful Haven

Designed to be ‘a garden within a garden’, this tranquil space acts as the perfect counterpoint to city life

Houzz UK and Ireland Editor.

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‘A typical London square reimagined’ was the brief given to designer Kate Gould for this Chelsea garden, and her finished design is a fairytale wonderland, with rooms, layers, hidden corners and clever solutions for urban living. Take a tour below.

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Garden at a Glance
Show RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018
Garden New West End Garden
Designer Kate Gould
Prize awarded Gold medal

“My brief was to take a typical London square garden and give it a modern twist,” says Kate. “If you think about London squares, they’re usually surrounded by Georgian buildings, so that inspired the structure within the space.”

Designed as a series of interconnected spaces, the idea was to create a lush, green sanctuary to be used as a communal garden in the heart of the city.

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Georgian-style pillars and walls with ‘doorways’ and ‘windows’ zone the garden and create a sense of enclosure and discovery as visitors walk through the space.

“We wanted to create a small garden that was part of a larger garden,” Kate explains. “So at the centre of the space, there’s a cool, calm heart, where people can escape the hustle and bustle of the city.”

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This central, paved courtyard is surrounded by lush planting, both in low-level beds and up the walls.

Small trees cast dappled shade across the seating area, and the overhead structure helps to make the space feel enclosed and private while still remaining open to the elements.

The garden is packed with smart little design details. The bench in the courtyard, for example, has decorative air vents under the seat to help move the air around the space – a good design trick for an area with high levels of air pollution.

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Ferns were chosen for the green wall for their ability to soak up traffic noise and absorb pollution, making them practical as well as beautiful.

By cutting windows into the wall, visitors can see through from one space into the next, which prevents the small, enclosed space from feeling too constricted.

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In the central courtyard, a black-and-white checkered floor gives another nod to classic Georgian design.

This flooring has a distinctively 21st century twist, though, as it’s constructed from Pavegen panels, which generate kinetic energy when they’re walked on.

This energy, in turn, powers the garden lighting, an outdoor ceiling fan and a simple water feature.

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To one side of the central courtyard, a neat lawn, edged with low, evergreen hedging, offers a slice of refreshing greenery for weary feet.

The lawn has been cleverly set at an angle to create triangular pockets of planting around the edges. “Diagonal planting will always make a small space look bigger,” Kate explains.

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Colourful ‘wild’ planting surrounds each of the outdoor spaces, linking them all together and bringing in lots of cheerful colour and texture.

“I wanted this to be a positive space, giving back to visitors as well as having a positive environmental impact,” Kate explains.

So as well as renewable energy sources, the planting was also planned with wildlife in mind. “It’s been designed to have lots of nectar stops for bees to try to support insect life in our cities,” she says.

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On the other side of the central courtyard is another little ‘hidden’ garden space, richly planted with shrubs, trees and flowers to create a cool and quiet walkway into the central area.

A decorative ‘doorway’ creates a magical feel and adds a sense of drama, building expectation for visitors entering the garden. The doorway also offers a clear view right through to the other end of the space, crisply framing the artwork on the far wall.

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“This corner is probably my favourite bit of the garden,” Kate says. “It’s calm and no one can see you when you hide in it, plus there’s overhead privacy, too.”

Tell us…
What do you think of this London garden? Let us know in the Comments section.

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