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Before & After: From a Blank Canvas to a Golden Garden in a London Suburb

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Before & After: From a Blank Canvas to a Golden Garden in a London Suburb

January 21, 2019

Imagine a blank canvas: a large garden in a southeastern suburb of London, with one more than one-third of an acre of land (measuring about 1,500 square meters). There was nothing to incorporate into a new design except for two mature maple trees, an existing swimming pool, and a small summer house.

Enter garden designers Farlam & Chandler. Their plan?  “To create a family garden, offering an outdoor living experience for both day and night use, throughout the year,” said creative director Harriet Farlam. “Flexible areas for the whole family were to be created, providing outdoor ‘rooms’ softened with lots of planting, with year-round interest.”

With the judicial use of perennial grasses, the garden looks particularly lovely in late autumn and early winter when foliage turns golden and the landscape takes on a burnished bronze tint.

Read on to see the “Before” photos:

Photography courtesy of Farlam & Chandler.

In the background, exuberant sprays of golden Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ punctuate the perimeter of the lawn. See more growing tips in Feather Reed Grass: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.
Above: In the background, exuberant sprays of golden Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ punctuate the perimeter of the lawn. See more growing tips in Feather Reed Grass: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.

Behind the grasses and beyond the pleached trees is the swimming pool.

High-performance Domus Porcelain Tiles were  used to pave the terrace areas near the house.
Above: High-performance Domus Porcelain Tiles were  used to pave the terrace areas near the house.
Outdoor furniture designer Expormim, based in Spain, exports to 40 countries including the US. Show here is a dining table from the Falcata collection (which in addition to several rectangular sizes includes round and elliptical  models). It has aluminum legs and can be customized with either a porcelain or laminate tabletop.
Above: Outdoor furniture designer Expormim, based in Spain, exports to 40 countries including the US. Show here is a dining table from the Falcata collection (which in addition to several rectangular sizes includes round and elliptical  models). It has aluminum legs and can be customized with either a porcelain or laminate tabletop.

“The architecture of the house has been transferred directly to the outdoor space, informing the structure of the garden.” said Farlam. “Two generous terraces flow from the inside out to create separate spaces for both dining and relaxing close to the house.”

Visible on the far patio in the background is a sofa from Expormim’s Livit collection, which includes sofas and chaises in several sizes and can be configured as a sectional, as well.

Braided dining chairs are from Expormim&#8
Above: Braided dining chairs are from Expormim’s Lapala collection.

“The client was keen to dress the terraces in a similar way to how the internal rooms were decorated and we carefully selected suitable furniture and cushions,” said Farlam.  “Each piece has its own character, for each area of the garden. These finishing elements make the garden feel soft, welcoming, and are left outside all year round to give an extended sense of outdoor living.”

Sawn sandstone edges the lawn; for similar stone, see CED Stone Group.
Above: Sawn sandstone edges the lawn; for similar stone, see CED Stone Group.

Made of peeled and tinted natural rattan, a Nautica Swing Chair from Expormim has an aluminum tube base.

 The handmade pots are by Belgium-based Atelier Vierkant.
Above: The handmade pots are by Belgium-based Atelier Vierkant.

“Planters as sculpture” is how Remodelista editor Julie Carlson describes Atelier Vierkant’s handmade clay vessels. Read more in Artful Planters from Belgium.

Low-growing clumps of Hakonechloa macra create a feathery ground cover in the front of the borders. For more growing tips, see Hakone Grass: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.
Above: Low-growing clumps of Hakonechloa macra create a feathery ground cover in the front of the borders. For more growing tips, see Hakone Grass: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.
Pleached trees are uplit at night.
Above: Pleached trees are uplit at night.
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Above: “A series of connecting entertaining and green spaces have been created,” said Farlam.
Feathery grasses can have as much visual impact as flowering plants.
Above: Feathery grasses can have as much visual impact as flowering plants.
  The pool garden links with the stone-framed lawn garden, lined with pleached trees.
Above:  The pool garden links with the stone-framed lawn garden, lined with pleached trees.

Before

Paved and grim, the garden was a blank canvas.
Above: Paved and grim, the garden was a blank canvas.
An existing summer house anchored one area of the garden.
Above: An existing summer house anchored one area of the garden.

After

The summer house is a destination at the edge of the lawn, adding a visual element to the horizon to make the garden feel even larger than it is. Pleached trees create privacy without obstructing open spaces.
Above: The summer house is a destination at the edge of the lawn, adding a visual element to the horizon to make the garden feel even larger than it is. Pleached trees create privacy without obstructing open spaces.

See another favorite landscape rehab in Before & After: A Seaside English Garden by Farlam & Chandler. For more inspiration about how to incorporate pleached trees and perennial grasses into a garden, see:

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