Colourful Family Garden, Norwich

The Brief

The design was for the north-east-facing back garden of a Victorian terraced house, located in Norwich’s Golden Triangle. This small garden (approx 4.5m x 7m, not including the side return) had a few nice features, including a woven fence along the right-hand boundary, a couple of mature trees/shrubs, and the original brick coal shed, painted white with a terracotta tiled roof, forming the rear boundary. But the garden was rather bare, and lacked atmosphere and privacy. The very middle of the garden was dominated by large a sunken area of concrete, with a rain water pipe running down the very the centre of the coal shed into a drain.

The brief was to create a lush, plant-filled, family-friendly garden, with a lawn to play on, and a sunny seating/dining area. The planting needed to be low-maintenance, including shrubs, perennials and bulbs to provide year-round interest, colour and scent, with interesting foliage and flowers in vibrant colours. I planned to maximise the growing space in this small garden with vertical planting, and improve the views from the windows and patio doors, to make the the house feel more connected to the bi-sected garden.


The Design

A bespoke, pergola-style archway forms a dramatic entrance to the main part of the garden. Viewed from the french doors, it draws you into the garden and gives the space the feeling of an outside room. New turf has been laid, which sets off the planting and hard landscaping beautifully. The deck is positioned in the sunniest part of the garden, ideal for family meals and entertaining, with festoon lights that will create a lovely atmosphere on warm evenings.

Opportunities for play have been included in this garden, without compromising on the design aesthetic. A recessed sand pit has been created within the deck, with a latch fitted to the coal shed wall to safely hold lid open when needed – it’s also a great place to store toys. A painted blackboard is planned for the back wall of the house, beside the wonderful, hand-made, wooden mud kitchen. The pergola archway is designed not only to frame the garden, and provide a structure for flowering climbers, but also to be strong enough to hold a swing, which can be removed when not in use.

The planting scheme is bright and colourful, with lots of flowers from early spring to late autumn – Alliums, Tulips, Forsythia, Geraniums, Geums, Day Lilies, Penstemons, Salvias – and sweet fragrance from a Daphne and small Lilac. The clients love big, bold flowers and were keen to have a vibrant planting palette of jewel colours, purples, yellows, oranges and magentas, as well as foliage in shades of green. Evergreen plants – Heucheras, Hakonechloa grasses, Camellia & Ceanothus – will ensure this small garden looks good all year round.

Later this year, I’ll be planting a fan-trained Morello Cherry, which has pretty white blossom in spring, followed luscious fruit in summer. This tree, and climbers including vanilla-scented Chocolate Vines (Akebia quinata) and Clematis, will soon start to clothe the fences and pergola so the garden will feel surrounded by greenery.

Practical features of the design include: a screened-off bin storage area (unglamorous but essential!) constructed in woven-style fencing to match the existing right-side fence. Mower-friendly lawn edging will remove the need for strimming. The old, obtrusive down pipe from the coal shed gutter has been redirected to a water butt and overflow drain to the side. Man-hole covers were neatly hidden, disguised under the block paving but still accessible. The paving in the side return and shared path is done in Bradstone ‘Monksbridge Royale’ block setts, which give a traditional cobbled look, in keeping with the period of the house, but are wonderfully economical and ideal for a low budget design.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this garden develop. It’s been a pleasure working with such enthusiastic clients, and helping to make their vision for this garden a reality. 

Garden Construction by Neal Daniels of N. D. Landscaping, T. 07884 027505.