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Before & After: A Jet Black Garden with White Jasmine Perfume

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Before & After: A Jet Black Garden with White Jasmine Perfume

October 30, 2019

For a fashion designer in Fulham with a small townhouse backyard about 16 feet wide and 42 feet deep, London-based garden designer Charlotte Rowe came up with a plan to connect the garden visually with the interior spaces by using a dark palette of blacks and grays–lightened by fragrant white jasmine.

Hardscape materials include black granite, dark-stained oak decking, and gray pebbles. The plant palette is limited to black and purple with accents of cream and limey-green. Let’s take a look at how Rowe created a jet black garden perfumed by white jasmine:

Photography courtesy of Charlotte Rowe.

The living room is at the back of the house, so Rowe extended it into the garden with a dark-stained oak deck at the same elevation as the interior room.
Above: The living room is at the back of the house, so Rowe extended it into the garden with a dark-stained oak deck at the same elevation as the interior room.

Before

An interior remodel had left the backyard looking like a construction site, with overgrown vines and a falling-down fence, giving Rowe the opportunity to start from scratch.
Above: An interior remodel had left the backyard looking like a construction site, with overgrown vines and a falling-down fence, giving Rowe the opportunity to start from scratch.

The Plan

Rowe relied on hardscape materials to create a black backdrop punctuated by dashes of greenery.
Above: Rowe relied on hardscape materials to create a black backdrop punctuated by dashes of greenery.

After

The view from the house. Beyond the dark oak terrace is black granite, with black polished pebbles, and a dark gray fence that surrounds the space. For a similar gray as the fence, consider Benjamin Moore&#8
Above: The view from the house. Beyond the dark oak terrace is black granite, with black polished pebbles, and a dark gray fence that surrounds the space. For a similar gray as the fence, consider Benjamin Moore’s Gravel Gray, and for more inspiration see Shades of Gray: Architects’ Favorite Exterior Paint Picks.
The formally clipped shrubbery in cubist planters contrasts with the loose perimeter plantings at the base of the fence. Growing on the fence is Chinese star jasmine (Trachlespermum jasminoides), a strongly fragrant vine with evergreen leaves.
Above: The formally clipped shrubbery in cubist planters contrasts with the loose perimeter plantings at the base of the fence. Growing on the fence is Chinese star jasmine (Trachlespermum jasminoides), a strongly fragrant vine with evergreen leaves.
In the back of the garden, a table and benches for seating draws the eye to a distant destination. Along the back fence is planted a stand of black-stemmed bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).
Above: In the back of the garden, a table and benches for seating draws the eye to a distant destination. Along the back fence is planted a stand of black-stemmed bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).
Outdoor lighting is another element that adds key visual interest. Rowe used a mix of subtle spotlights and dramatic up-lighting beneath the olive trees.
Above: Outdoor lighting is another element that adds key visual interest. Rowe used a mix of subtle spotlights and dramatic up-lighting beneath the olive trees.
A hardy lime green Japanese perennial grass (L) is Hakonechloa macra &#8
Above: A hardy lime green Japanese perennial grass (L) is Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’  and perennials such as Angelica gigas, Salvia nemorosa, and bulbs including “˜Queen of the Night’ tulips and ‘Purple Sensation’ alliums add purple accents throughout the growing season. For more of our favorite dark purple tulips, see Priceless Tulips: Yours for $25.
Pittosporum tobira &#8
Above: Pittosporum tobira “˜Nanum’ is planted along the fence.

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