Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Even a Tiny Yard Can Be a City Retreat; Inspired by the RHS Campaign, Kate Gould Turned Urban Grey to Green and Won Chelsea Gold

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Even a Tiny Yard Can Be a City Retreat; Inspired by the RHS Campaign, Kate Gould Turned Urban Grey to Green and Won Chelsea Gold

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

HOW can you create gardens within the small outdoor pockets that are all you get in many modern blocks of flats? Designer Kate Gould took the RHS Greening Grey Britain campaign to heart, which encourages us to green up urban spaces.

Her multi-level solution at Chelsea Flower Show last week earned her a well-deserved Gold Medal. "With a bit of thought, you can make any tiny outdoor space outside your front door green and inviting, whether you're in the basement, on the ground floor or at a higher level," says Gould.

She recreated three levels of a blueprint apartment block, built off-site with a structure of steel beams, to put her point across. The lush, green planting ranges from shade-tolerant tropical plants such as tree ferns, fatsia, philodendron and camassias in the basement, where light levels are lower, to more Mediterranean, drought-tolerant planting on the upper levels, including euphorbias, bush echium, lavender, polygala and an exotic lavender hibiscus. There are two hawthorn trees on two of the small outside areas at the top, and a green wall of textural foliage on the outside, adding to opportunities for wildlife to feed and shelter -- an important aspect of the RHS campaign.

But it is the innovative materials Gould used, with a predominant theme of grey and orange, including two giant Anglepoise outdoor lamps, that make these small-space gardens outstanding, and prompt us to think of new ways of landscaping our plots, whatever their size. At the top level she chose plant-flattering Cor-ten steel for both a pergola, comprising a simple series of horizontal poles, and an interesting wall of linear abstract patterning that is repeated in a screen at basement level. Raised beds and a banquette, fitted with a weatherproof bench cushion, are made of slatted powder-coated grey steel with a hammered finish that makes them, she points out, more durable.

"These kinds of materials -- the Corten steel wall, the planters -- would be part of the infrastructure of the building. We took the pattern of the openwork screens and used it for the steel outside staircase as well," says Gould. …

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