This garden was not quite a blank canvas when I was first commissioned, as the owner had built a garage, leaving a flat roof to incorporate and also a bar. My job was to bring it all into a coherent whole that would serve as an area for entertaining and relaxing. They wanted flower filled borders with year round interest, that would not be too labour intensive. The garden should also be a haven for wildlife. They thought a sculptural element would be good and were clear they didn’t want lawn (or artificial grass- phew!)


The style of the house and the porcelain tiles that the client had already chosen, led me towards a more clean- lined and modern look. They wanted a lot of paved space for entertaining so the limited planting would have to work hard.



The flat roof lent itself to being turfed with a wildflower turf, which softened the look of all the hard walls and paths and helped meet the wildlife-friendly remit. Walls were rendered and painted a soft colour that would act as a foil for and complement the colour palette of the planting. The decked area over the other half of the flat roof provides a viewpoint back to the house. We agreed to use composite decking in a slate colour to match the slate tiles that would be used as coping on the tops of the walls. Composite decking is more durable and safer than timber decking, which rots after a number of years and gets treacherous when wet.

As neither he nor his wife are sun-lovers, the client liked the idea of a pergola to sit in the shade. We contacted some blacksmiths to design and install a metal one.

The rest of the planting needed to be a blend of neat geometric shapes to go with the clean lines of the tiles and pergola and more airy informal shapes to blend with the wildflowers. I chose box balls, but Ilex crenata was substituted as it doesn’t suffer from box blight, and neat Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ as the formal shapes. Texture and colour is added by grasses and other perennials and bulbs for year round interest.


Not having a blank canvas is always a bit of a challenge and striking a balance between hard and soft landscaping.

End Result

The hard landscaping was done and meadow turf installed, with excellent attention to detail, by Green Estate. The pergola was designed and built by Gregory and Tesseras blacksmiths

The garden has delivered what we set out to achieve. It is both a space for the owners to relax and for friends and pollinators to visit. I think the client regrets his choice of porcelain tiles as they look fantastic when clean but don’t stay that way long!

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