The most dramatic garden glow up - created by me (Kate), founder of Haus - and furnished with lots of lovely pieces, of course!
We Brits are a nation of garden lovers, this much is undeniable, but this last year and all its challenges have deepened our appreciation for our outdoor spaces.
The challenge was a big one for me - taking a derelict, unused and overgrown space on a steep slope and attempting to turn it into a smart, tiered city garden.
Like many people, we were desperate for some outside space – our flat had a small courtyard but we wanted somewhere we could entertain and somewhere for the dogs to enjoy.
The details surrounding actually buying the land were a bit unusual – it was a plot backing on to the communal garden of our building and came up for sale from a previous owner. Despite the state it was in, we snapped it up, knowing we could make something special.
We realised early on that we would need professionals in – not only was the site overgrown, it was steeply sloping and had a strange slab of hard-standing in the middle. We enlisted the help of a garden landscaper and together devised a plan to make a sociable space with lots of room for plants but also a big deck. The layout was in part influenced by formal Georgian planting – the garden backs onto a Regency-era building, so it felt right to nod to that heritage.
First there was a lot of clearance work – an old stump had to come out and then years of brambles. Then it was on to a mix of excavating and filling the various layers.
The site also had literally tonnes of stones in it, so it made sense for us to use gabions, the metal cages, as our retaining walls. We had planned to buy more stones for facing them, but in the end we didn’t need to.
We wanted the space to be pretty low maintenance, so the bottom section is a material called hoggin, which is a self-binding gravel (it’s mixed with cement). It creates an even, solid surface but it is also free draining, which was important as this was the lower section. It’s really good value for money too.
We were aware that we wanted this to be a good space for city creatures and insects – the planting included lots of pollinator-friendly plants to try and encourage them – in turn we have lots of birds which is lovely. We filled the raised bed, which was created with sleepers, with top soil and got to work planting a mix of plants – we have geraniums, cornflowers, sedums, geums, sweetpeas, alliums, violas, salvias, foxgloves, thistles and some Ravenswing cow parsley – there is also some interest for early spring with lots of daffodils, hellebores, muscari and tulips.
Either side of the lawn, a more formal, framing effect is achieved using boxus – it’s literally instant impact and really helps enforce those tidy lines.
Alongside the borders, we really wanted a tree in the mix too – so we ordered a lovely small silver birch from primrose.co.uk – it moves in the breeze so beautifully. We can pot it on as it grows and eventually plant it in the garden of a future home.
We don’t have a direct power source up there so lots of installed lights were an issue – so we opted for a mixture of options from lights4fun.co.uk – mostly their amazing solar-powered lights, which have a great output given their diminutive size! We also have some festoon lights from there – these come in connectable 5m lengths so it’s great to have options to make the right size for your space.
Next steps...the craze for fire pits continues and we’d like to get our hands on one – we always intended it for the hoggin area in the bottom section with some more seating around it. That spot also tends to get the last of the afternoon rays.