Magical Moroccan Courtyard Garden
"We’ve been travelling extensively since we retired three years ago, spending much time in the Middle East, India, North Africa and other areas with significant Islamic influences. One day, we returned home and looked at our neglected and forlorn back garden and wondered if it might, just might, be possible for it to be transformed into a paradise worthy of the Arabian Nights or at the very least an homage to the Persian-style gardens we’d just spent time in. A neighbour recommended Nick and Doug and before we knew it, we’d made contact and everything began to fall into place.
We explained what we liked and provided images that inspired us and Nick and Doug just “got it”. Despite COVID and lockdown, we now have the most wonderful garden in which we spend as much time as we can- often just sitting in it, looking and listening and allowing it to envelop us with its beauty. It is a fantastic sensory experience and more than we could have imagined was possible.
The design process seemed effortless (we’re sure it wasn’t really) but Nick and Doug’s understanding of what we wanted was so clear that they were able to incorporate all of the features we mentioned, and more, in the initial designs. We were delighted. The hard landscaping was completed efficiently and accurately and relatively (surprisingly) painlessly! The day that the first tiles went down and the day the first plants arrived will live long in our memories as dreams became reality.
And now we have three beautiful, linked courtyard gardens in which the sound of water from the two stunning fountains is audible throughout. The planting provides such a variety of colour, shape and scent and all of it combining to create a real sense of those countries where we had found our original inspiration. But it’s not just the water features and the plants, it’s the colours of the fences and walls and the shape of the several, different pots and the design of the decorative panels which create the illusion of being in a far-away land. Bees and butterflies aplenty enjoy spending time in the garden with us and, in the evening and into the night, the fabulous lighting makes the garden a truly magical place. When we look down into it from our living room, it’s like looking into the courtyards of a riad in Marrakesh, not a back garden in suburban West London.
Quite simply we love our new garden! We cannot thank Nick and Doug enough for what they have achieved. They were an absolute joy to work with- they are extremely modest and unassuming and very amusing- and we almost didn’t want the work to finish as it would mean they wouldn’t be with us quite as much! Nothing ever fazes them- their "can-do" approach is inspirational. Creative, sensitive, imaginative, perceptive and great listeners, they also have great style! Passionate and enthusiastic about their work and determined to make sure that the garden would be completed to the highest of standards, and within budget, we had complete faith in them and it was absolutely deserved. When we started, we wanted just the back garden to be transformed. Now that’s been achieved with such style we’d love them to sort out the front garden and then the whole house too please!" - Colin & Ruth, W7
What a joy it was for Doug and I to design this garden. The garden is in an ‘L’ shape and wraps around the architect designed home, which has a large first floor terrace that overlooks the garden.
The brief was to create a Moroccan-influenced courtyard garden that would be the perfect tranquil oasis in which to relax and entertain amongst beautiful colourful planting.
We decided to design three distinct enclosed areas within the garden, all of which have their own character and atmosphere. As you enter the garden through large wrought iron gates, you first enter a small courtyard which has a stunning Moroccan wall fountain as its focal point.
The fountain, which we imported from Marrakesh, instantly transports the visitor to a wonderful, calm place – thanks to the sound of the water gently falling from the impressive brass deer’s mouth. Each side of the fountain we planted the exotic looking climber, Campsis, which has wonderful orange trumpet-like flowers throughout the summer. Ferns, grasses and perennials are planted at the base of the fountain, which will frame it beautifully.
From the terrace, your eye is drawn to the view ahead via a tiled pathway. The pathway has generously planted beds each side, with tall Taxus Fastigiata trees at their centres, which frame the view and provide wonderful evergreen structure.
The main terrace, with its blue and white antique tiles set within a border of terracotta paving, has a large urn at its centre. This terrace has terracotta walls and decorative trellis panels to continue the Moroccan theme. This lovely warm colour works as a perfect backdrop to the planting (below)
This terrace also provides great flexibility for relaxing or dining, as well as a place to sit and see both the first terrace and the larger main garden.
The main garden has borders to both sides, each with large terracotta pots planted with Cicas. At the entrance to this part of the garden, two Cercis trees, which produce masses of white blossom in early spring, are under planted with fragrant pines, Santolinas and Sambucus.
We chose compacted gravel, as it evokes the feeling of hotter climes and introduces another texture to the design. The borders contain fragrant Mediterranean plants and shrubs, while the central bed has a gorgeous jade green urn at its centre.
Water gently cascades from the top of the urn into a submerged tank. Evergreen plants are planted amongst the stones and gravel at its base (below)
This most certainly is a garden that takes on a truly magical atmosphere as night falls, as the images below show so well.