Dulwich Village garden 3

The brief

This garden has been redesigned as part of an extensive refurbishment and extension work of a Victorian villa in collaboration with nimtim architects and Keep Interior Design. Having been involved at an early stage allowed to cease opportunities to create a seamless link between the inside and outside with a courtyard and a 10 meters long green wall running along the side return and out towards the garden. The green wall "comes in" into the family room and creates an amazing focal point in an area that would have been dull otherwise. It is planted with shade loving plants along the side of the extension and transitions into a full sun aspect where it is then planted with Mediterranean plants. A few plants such as Euphorbia are helping with the transition as they cope with both semi shade and full sun. The Lavender wall is a great success and is always buzzing with bees.
The owners wanted a contemporary garden softened with a lot of planting and a sense of discovery. They wanted the place to be "filled with bees, birds and butterflies" while being in keeping with their house and accommodating their love for entertaining friends.
They also wanted to incorporate a teenage hangout, to be partially screened (so that they can still keep an eye ;-)

What I did

The original garden was densely planted but mainly with shrubs which gave it a very stiff and lifeless feel. We kept all the established shrubs and plants we could, some of them had to be transferred. We had to take 2 trees down, retained 4 existing ones and planted no less than 31 new ones.
A dining and lounging area was created overlooking the garden and divided by a line of pleached trees to increase the feeling of privacy and create some dappled shade. After a small lawn, a gravel path leads you to a contemplative Mediterranean garden. You can hear some gentle bubbling which invites you to do some exploring as the water feature is hidden within a mixed aromatic border. The water is bubbling and self circulating through a dry stone plinth. Another dry stone plinth echoes the water feature but is there to be perched on, anchoring the herbaceous planting that surrounds it.
A sundeck is nested within planting and opposite the Mediterranean garden, inviting you to lounge in the sun while watching the bees and butterflies activity and enjoying the Mediterranean scents floating around.

The path then leads you to the shadier part of the garden. This area feels more woodlandy as it is surrounded by neighbours large tree canopies. Before we got involved, this area felt gloomy and uninviting. I decided to inject some light and lift the space while embracing the woodland feel by planting white stemmed birches very close to each other so that they remain slender underplanted with white flowering and lime green shade loving plants. A large corten steel firepit surrounded with logs and a curved steel and wood bench acts as a focal point but is also a nod to the owners love of camping and sitting around the fire. It has become the place where the family and their friends tend to gravitate around and spend time together.

Photos by Annaïck Guitteny.