This garden came with the gift of a weeping willow tree which sits right in the middle of the space – a garden designer’s dream. The clients needed inspiration for how to deal with the shade and leaf fall from this graceful tree. They also wanted an interesting and comfortable entertaining space as well as a path to take them from the house to the garden gate which they use to take their dog out for walks.
With this wish list, it felt like I had a free hand to compose a design which could transform this small urban space and I set about selecting materials and structures. The clients wisely agreed to a programme of restoration work on their garden walls. Repointing and repair work was carried out with lime mortar and the significant improvement was well worth the time and expense.
The clients originally came to me because they had seen a curving, built-in bench with scorched oak top which I had designed a few years back for my clients at Eton Terrace. The bench top was designed and hand-crafted by Michaela Huber, a highly skilled furniture-maker based in Midlothian.
I have a thing about boardwalks. For some reason a walkway which appears to float over a space, creating a clean, dry route through lush, dense planting is both romantic and pleasingly practical. I used Millboard Enhanced Grain decking boards in Burnt Cedar finish and used London Stone’s black granite paving slabs for steps leading up to the decked area.
Although this garden sits firmly in the middle of Edinburgh’s New Town, I still had the feeling that a bit of lush, rainforest-style planting would sit well in the space either side of the boardwalk. At one end of the garden a surprising amount of sunlight finds its way past the mature willow, neighbours’ trees and high buildings. So I felt confident planting long-flowering, long-pollenating herbaceous plants in this area. Underneath the willow planting conditions were, needless to say, dry and competition from tree roots made plant choices tricky. I pushed to the limits ‘plants for dry shade’ with some notable successes and inevitable fails – but the garden is a work in progress and the successes will eventually prevail! Plants supplied by Binny Plants.
Happily the clients were keen for me to help with accessorising the garden and again gave me a free hand. They agreed to two Fermob Louisianne benches in hot chilli red, one to sit at each end of the garden. These are comfortable in design, mimicking 19th century park benches with elegant curves. A Scottish larch workbench with log store sits next to the clients’ barbecue and a corten water feature from the Pot Company sits surrounded by a froth of colourful flowers and a fire bowl allows the family to enjoy the garden on cooler evenings.
As with so many projects, the success of the design is all about the team who builds it. Faodail Landscapes undertook the landscaping and produced an excellent finish. Stonemasonry work was expertly carried out by Dale at DN Masonry and garden lighting was installed by MGD Electrical.