Amazing as it may seem, this Victorian house in west London, belonging to artist Elizabeth Morgan and her husband, didn't originally have an outdoor space. 'There is a huge communal garden, but having a private space is obviously preferable. It was one of those rare moments when I managed to convince a client to do the opposite of what is the norm,' says architect Margherita Thumiger of Studio 29. 'I suggested that we demolish an extension that had been built at the back of the house, and put in a small private garden with African-inspired, oversize plants instead.'
Calling on the services of Sylvie Gabbey of Ginger Landscape (07790451553) to choose the plants, Margherita suggested adding a living wall to one side of the garden, giving the feeling of a lush, verdant space where there is little room for ground level planting.
'Living walls are very effective in small gardens, as they add a huge amount of depth.' This example, from Greenwood Nurseries - Aldingbourne, is hooked up to a hidden irrigation system, pumped from a tank of water laced with plant food, meaning no watering necessary. The nursery takes care of the upkeep, coming to change the tank every few months and tending to, or switching, any plants that aren't looking healthy; it is the ultimate in low maintenance gardening. The garden furniture is M'Afrique by Moroso and is constructed from old telephone wires.
The walls have been painted in a rich aubergine colour, 'much cosier than white walling'; while the floor has been paved in a dark slate. 'Everyone in the UK asks for beige stone, but then the rain comes and the floor starts to get mossy and green. Better to opt for a dark slate like this, which looks almost like shiny marble when wet, and has a great texture and blue-ish colour when dry.'