ISSUE 49  |  Utilitarian Glamour

Garden Designer Visit: Jinny Blom in Primrose Hill

December 11, 2014 11:00 AM

BY Kendra Wilson

People don’t hire Jinny Blom just so they can have a “Jinny Blom garden.” Besides being reliably lush and gorgeous, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific look, as each is approached in a completely individual way. Here is how Jinny made sense of an awkward garden in Primrose Hill:

Photography by Charlie Hopkinson, except where noted.

Above: In terms of Before and After, there was no Before. Just a mess left behind by builders, who had added a ground floor extension to a family house in north London’s Primrose Hill. A problem which Jinny wanted to address was that neighboring houses dominated the garden. “This project required a firm hand as it is overlooked by houses farther up the hill and that made it feel very vulnerable,” says Jinny. “Planting it as woodland solved many problems simultaneously.”

JInny Blom has established a reputation since 2000 as a designer of integrity and thoughtfulness, as well as panache. She is a great advocate of craftsmanship and the Prince of Wales awarded her an award for the dry stone walling carried out at Temple Guiting in the Cotswolds. As she says about her team: “We build to last.”

Above: Silver birch has been called in to add a light canopy. Trees that already existed were sycamore, robinia and an old hawthorn: “All of which added to the value,” says Jinny. Photograph by Nicola Brown.

Above: Jinny’s clients were non-gardeners but wanted to have a workable space outdoors which they could enjoy and where their children could kick a ball around. A lawned area fits the purpose (and is farther away from the glass extension). Photograph by Nicola Brown.

Above: “The whole garden is woodland, but it’s not dark,” says Jinny. “At the lower level I added huge Buxus bullata for depth and for birds to nest in.”

Above: Oxeye daisies growing in the loose, wild-seeming planting. Jinny and her team will go in every few years to renovate planting if that seems necessary, and to open up the tree canopies. The garden does not need to be meticulously maintained: “It’s pretty bulletproof.”

Above: Jinny loves planting trees and has been known to restore forests (and re-direct waterways). “The fact that trees are protected now, makes it satisfying to know that one is adding–especially in cities–to the future urban forests.”

Above: A bank was created on the side of the house when the extension was dug down into the hill. “I kept this area light and unwooded but used a grove of tree ferns at the terminal end,” says Jinny. “They are distant from the birch so they make a little area with a different feel to the rest of the garden.”

Above: A holding wall, between the area by the house and the enclosed parking space (for this is a multi-functioning garden), is planted with the ‘pheasant’s tail grass’ Anemanthele lessoniana (formerly Stipa arundinacea), which hangs over the wall with clover Trifolium repens ‘Rubrum’. Farther back, to lighten things up, is the magenta Persicaria Amplexicaulis ‘Taurus’ and palest lemon Cephalaria gigantea.

For Jinny Blom’s indoor garden, see: Restaurant Visit: Skye Gyngell’s Spring at Somerset House. For another urban garden with Brit style, see Architect Visit: The Vegetarian Cottage in East London.