Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How to Keep Everyone Happy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How to Keep Everyone Happy

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

HOW do you keep the whole family happy in a small London garden when the children demand a play area, you dream of a veg patch and a herb garden, and your other half wants a potting bench and fruit trees -- and everyone wants builtin seating and a lawn? One solution is to call in a garden designer -- a clever one. "If you do it right," says London-based Claire Mee, who was given this daunting brief by the owners of a Queens Park garden, "then, even though you're putting a lot in, the result is that the garden looks larger."

Her clients also wanted weatherboarding somewhere, and for the garden to look contemporary, as well as have "a bit of rustic charm". There was nothing worth saving from the old garden, which was full of overgrown shrubs that made the north-facing space, already short on light, feel oppressive and gloomy.

Mee's plan was to enclose the garden with the palest blue weatherboarding, then divide up the long, lean space by marking each area with a different flooring. She designed a deck of ipe hardwood at the back of the house that was the same level as the kitchen floor to make a smooth transition, adding a wall along one half to define the seating area. In the next band of the garden, Mee rolled out a square lawn, planting an amelanchier tree in one corner. "It stops the eye from travelling too fast down the garden -- and provides beautiful blossom in spring and red leaves in autumn," she says.

She edged the lawn on two sides with the same York stone paving as the patio half-wall, leaving space for a flower border on both sides. On the right of the patio, she made an effective makeshift border by adding a line-up of four galvanised dollytubs, each containing lavender.

Further down on the left, a safe, soft floor of bark chippings marks the children's play area, which houses a jolly pirate-ship sandpit from The Great Little Trading Co. On the other side, just before a decked platform with raised beds and seating area at the back, Mee built three square woodframed beds on a gravel floor to create a veg plot, and squeezed in a minigreenhouse of weathered wood, to give the desired touch of rustic charm. …

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