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  • Writer's pictureNick

Garden Transformations: A Stylish Low Maintenance Kitchen Terrace

Lillian Avenue Garden Before and After

The Garden, before and after

"Thank you Nick for transforming our building site, a sorry excuse for a back garden, into an amazing space, which, as a family, we absolutely love! We had an extension built and Nick came along with his enthusiasm and vision for our neglected garden. While Nick worked on it, we went on holiday and came back to our garden oasis! Not only is he knowledgeable and artistic but from a practical point of view very reliable and trustworthy. I cannot recommend Nick highly enough for general garden maintenance to a full-scale garden transformation." Jackie & Cathal, London W3


I received a commission to design and plant a kitchen terrace garden for a family in Acton, West London. The brief was to create a low maintenance garden with a fabulous terrace leading off from the newly built kitchen extension.

The client requested that the garden also had to be dog-friendly and there was to be no lawn. The client wanted to have a series of raised beds, each with an ornamental obelisk, in the main area of the garden – an idea they got having visited my garden a few weeks earlier, when it was open as part of the charitable National Gardens Scheme. You can see how to create your own parterre garden, 'Distinctive Gardener' style, in this post

Lillian Avenue Garden Before Work Commenced

As you can see in the photo above, this was a typical West London garden in size. The extension had meant that there was now a significant drop from the bi-fold doors the spanned the entire kitchen to the original level of the garden.

The solution was to create a terrace using brick pillars which then had a concrete base laid on top. Large Indian sandstone paving slabs were then laid on to this base, which created a truly spacious, expansive feel and made moving from the kitchen to the garden seamless. The large paving was also used on the two steps that lead from the terrace to the lower part of the garden, as seen below.

Wide steps leading down to the parterre garden

I also decide to paint the rendering between the steps and on the rendered terrace wall dark grey, to match the bi-fold doors. This helped bring everything together and formed a stunning backdrop to the planting in the terrace beds.

Terrace border planting

I used a number of grasses and tall perennials including purple Verbena Bonariensis, deep crimson Achillea Red velvet, yellow Rudbekia deamii and purple Eupatorium Purpureum Reisenschien. All these plants flower well into the autumn and are loved by bees and butterflies. I wanted the terrace to appear to ‘float’ within the garden, and by using tall flowing grasses and perennials, this was exactly what I managed to achieve.

On the sun trap terrace itself, I used palms, bamboos and olive trees, all in containers, to give a Mediterranean feel. In order to make the terrace feel like an extension of the kitchen itself, I even managed to find two planters that matched the colour of the fabric of the sofa in the kitchen!

Lillian Avenue Garden from end

As you can see in the photo above, I also used raised beds at the side of the garden, which were painted dark grey to harmonize the whole scheme. They also had a practical purpose in discouraging the client’s small dog from jumping into the foliage!

The main feature of these two side beds were 4 magnificent evergreen Magnolia Grandiflora Gallisoniere. These large glossy leaved shrubs produce the most divinely perfumed cream flowers in the summer. I also planted evergreen flowering shrubs with wonderful foliage to create a dramatic and lush feel for 12 months of the year.

The client is a great rose lover, so the central raised beds are planted with a wide selection of roses, under-planted with the wonderful long flowering blue Nepeta Summer Magic.

The end of the garden was a place that had only ever been used as a storage area. But with its evergreen canopy, I saw an opportunity to make this in to a hidden shady oasis that both the client and their teenage daughter could enjoy.

Lillian Avenue shaded area with evergreens

I painted both the newly installed shed and the garden furniture a light grey colour, which tied in with the two planters that defined the entrance to this part of the garden. These planters were planted with a wonderful variety of yew, whose new vibrant green foliage almost looks like fireworks bursting into the sky.

This part of the garden is crowned by a majestic tree fern, which I under planted with smaller evergreen ferns. Chipped bark was then laid throughout this area, helping to give it a true ‘woodland’ feel.

A smart, leaded lantern sits on the table and creates a great focal point to the garden when viewed from the house, both day and night.

View of the garden from the kitchen

The client looks out at his new garden at dusk

The garden basking in sunshine

The garden as the early morning sun rises.

I have also installed a lighting system that not only extends the hours that the garden can be enjoyed, but also creates an amazing shadow-filled wonderland where the plants are the real stars of the show!

The entire project, from start to finish, was done in less than 3 weeks! So, if you're looking for the garden of your dreams, why not get in touch to see how I can help you?

The Distinctive Gardener getting stuck in to planting!

That's me enjoying the best bit- planting the new garden!


*An update* watch the video of the unveiling of this garden to the delighted owner, and take a tour of its features:

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