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  • Writer's pictureNick

Garden Transformations: Small, Exotic & Tropical Gardens

Last week, I was asked to create and work on a number of small garden spaces.

3 tropical garden transformations by the Distinctive Gardener

In Ridley Avenue, Northfields, I was asked to bring a touch of the exotic to a small, 16 square meter terrace.

The clients had recently completed work on their wonderful contemporary kitchen diner and wanted to look out onto an exotic secluded vista that would not only look stunning and inviting, but also remind them of their southern Indian heritage.

So, the terrace went from this…

Ridley Avenue garden before

to this..

Ridley Avenue Garden after

I painted the fencing black, not only to harmonize with the bi-fold doors, but also because black fences make boundaries disappear and allow plants to shine out!

Trellis was added to give height and three large grey stone planters were positioned along the back fence, planted with mature yellow bamboo. The yellow stems and the lush green leaves will look wonderful against the dark background.

Washington Palms were planted between the planters, which are fully hardy in our London microclimate. Other planters contained palms and a hardy banana and a Trumpet Vine. Campsis Indian Summer (producing wonderful orange flowers in summer) was planted against the fence to complete the exotic look.

Northfields London garden after transformation

As this was a garden that receives limited amounts of sunshine, I planted the borders (above) with a selection of evergreen ferns, Heucheras and white Hellebores, completing the look with a mulch of blue slate chippings. These plants require little attention and give interest for 12 months of the year.


Meanwhile in Chiswick, a young family asked me to help them give their garden a truly Mediterranean feel.

Chiswick, west London, garden after transformation

As you can see in the photo above, the rendered wall of the raised bed was painted white, which immediately helped to create a feeling of sunnier climes.

The main focal point in the bed was the large Chusan Palm in the top corner, complemented by planting a dwarf Phoenix Palm in the centre.

Box balls were inter-planted with silvery domes of Calocephalus and drifts of drought-tolerant Rosemary and Lavender were planted near to the integrated bench - a lovely place to sit with a glass of wine of an evening.

For winter interest, white Hellebores, which flower from November right through to spring, completed the look.

Chiswick, west London, garden transformation after

I transformed the blank brick wall opposite with the addition of this garden mirror (above), which also added to the Mediterranean feel. The mirror helps create the illusion of a garden beyond, and is complemented by the addition of two metal wall baskets planted with shade loving ferns.

Finally, a pocket planter, planted with herbs, was added to the side of a wooden storage unit. These pocket planters are brilliant if you want to disguise or soften a structure and create your own ‘living wall’.


And finally, in Kingsdown Avenue, W13, I was asked to revamp an established and truly stunning garden terrace that simply took my breath away!

Kingstown Avenue garden after gardening work

If anyone needs any inspiration on how to create your very own exotic oasis, the photo above shows you just what can be achieved if you decide to turn your dreams into a reality!

Using the trick of painting the boundary fences black that I mentioned earlier, the owners of this garden have also positioned a mirror along the back wall to help make the visitor feel the garden is even bigger than it actually is.

Kingstown Avenue garden after transformation

The wonderful enormous yellow and black stemmed bamboos in the photo (above) and the planting of some new evergreen ferns, tree ferns and a bananas only enhanced the lush feel.

Also note that by simply painting the garden shed black, it almost disappears into the background allowing the plants to sparkle!

Kingstown Avenue garden view from the kitchen

This could be your very own West London jungle!


If you're looking for a personally designed garden that is out of the ordinary – and out of this world! - get in touch to see how I can give your garden a truly distinctive makeover.

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