Modernist Courtyard in Chelsea

The new owners of this large elegant house in Chelsea in London had moved from a house with a traditional garden and as they already had a cottage in the country, they wanted to create a courtyard garden which was contemporary in feel and good for entertaining.

The space available had a number of design challenges: it would be viewed mainly from above, from the formal drawing room on the first floor, but still had to have access from the owners’ teenage sons’ rooms on the ground floor; it was quite dark and dank; the rear retaining flank wall of courtyard was prone to damp and moisture; and it was overlooked by a public footpath at the rear where the ground was much higher.

The design brief was to create a modernist style space incorporating a water feature and some touch of colour. As a key element of the design, Charlotte Rowe Garden Design decided to create a series of panelled walls to sit in front of the flank wall which would also provide the opportunity to bring some colour into the space. The panels are painted in a range of grey and deep indigo blue and are topped with a hand-made trellis which helps screen the courtyard from the rear.

The planting is a combination of evergreen structural shade-tolerant plants and climbers such as Muehlenbeckia complexa with a few signature plants such as espaliered figs on one of the side walls. There is also a winter bed for enjoyment throughout the year including ferns and Hellebores.

The carefully designed lighting plan maximises the effect of the water feature, panel walls and trellis at night and includes accent lighting on a row of hand-made stoneware pots.