Kate Gould is an award winning garden designer with more than a decade’s hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes and a regular exhibitor at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show where she has been awarded three Gold medals. Kate contacted MyGardenSchool and offered to share some thoughts on creating an urban garden. I’ve seen her excellent work at Chelsea Flower Show so I am delighted to welcome her to the MyGardenSchool blog:
We hear from Kate: Gould
Originally a reasonably large property in the Kensington area, this project was a complete overhaul of both house and garden. The house renovation was designed and completed by architects Michaelas Boyd who wanted to create a very contemporary minimalistic style throughout the house; a theme that would ideally be carried through to the garden. A contemporary garden with clean lines and minimal planting to reflect the completely renovated property was required.
The garden was initially much higher and was all excavated by hand. It was eventually reduced by about 5ft (1.5m) in height to make the basement accessible, enabling the owners to enter the garden from basement level. There was no access to the garden during the build, except via the house, so carting materials in and out was a bit of a nightmare. This garden was a complete change from the original garden. The house was totally refurbished with an exit to the rear open space created at basement level. So a connection between the house and garden was required, resulting in the excavation of soil to provide a lower ground floor terrace and steps.
The clients wanted something pared and minimal, but something that also extended the garden as it was not a huge space. They wanted the garden to be viewed on a straight axis from the basement and it needed to include water features and a fireplace, a BBQ, artificial lawn and somewhere safe for their child to play. Not the easiest of tasks to blend water and fire with child proof!
The garden was built using the same Portland stone used for the interior house renovation which helped marry the interior and exterior nicely to create the feeling of a real outdoor room. Portland stone is a very clean white stone and does unfortunately require a lot of sweeping in order to keep it looking good outdoors, but we feel it’s totally worth it. This is contrasted by tightly clipped shapes: buxus (boxwood) hedging and pleached carpinus (hornbeam) which add structure and interest all year round and ultimately lead the eye to the far end of the garden where a bespoke glass fireplace sits.
Stainless steel clad with the same Portland stone was used for the water features which run down either side of the garden; these flow into rills and those rills flow into a pool below. Centimetres below the surface of the water is a metal grid which makes the water risk free for any children playing in the garden (and also gives you the ability to ‘walk on water’ should you wish to try!) There are two other water features / rills that lead into the ground level pool and these create a gentle splaying voice which creates a sense of calm in the garden.
The furniture was made by a fabulous company called Gloster. A pair of 'Cloud' range sofas sit either side of the fireplace and are in a fabric that can withstand rain and all the elements that the British weather can throw at them so they can be left out all year round. Even the cushions are waterproof! All they need is a hose down occasionally which makes them very low maintenance.
The bespoke fireplace was made from glass supplied by Fusion and built by Richard Harwood. It uses bio-ethanol gel and features three colour changing lights which can be chosen separately or activated on a strobe setting where it will just cycle through the different colours. The other option is a white light setting which can be left on for a more relaxed muted vibe. This is lit in the evenings with different coloured lights; resulting in effects that are subtle or as 'party' as the mood dictates.
A grass lawn would have been impractical here, so artificial turf was used instead which makes maintenance of the garden much simpler. It is almost impossible to tell that it is artificial and because it doesn’t require cutting, the water feature running along one edge of it is never clogged with grass clippings.
Pleached hornbeam (carpinus) help to lengthen the garden, while the under-storey plants are changed annually as the clients taste dictates.
Visit Kate Gould Gardens
Photography: The Garden Builders