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


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.

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.


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

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


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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Above: Pittosporum tobira “˜Nanum’ is planted along the fence.

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