A jun­gle in­flu­enced, wildlife-haven in a small space

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening -

Size isn’t ev­ery­thing, and it cer­tainly hasn’t stopped Su­san and Richard Coelho from adding a lively ex­tra di­men­sion to their home in ur­ban Ted­ding­ton. The space be­hind the 1960’s house may be small, but it’s a haven for wildlife, with newts and frogs tak­ing up res­i­dence in the pond, birds mak­ing the most of trees and shrubs and nu­mer­ous in­sects go­ing about their busi­ness amongst a rich va­ri­ety of plants. “Liv­ing here means we’re sur­rounded by peo­ple, but our gar­den gives us a lit­tle oa­sis of our own,” Su­san ex­plains.

All this can be seen in its glory through slid­ing glass doors that can be pushed back on sunny days to bring the out­doors in. And with hardly any flow­ers to speak of and sev­eral ev­er­greens cho­sen for shape and tex­ture, this shel­tered space looks good all year round with­out the need for too much dead­head­ing and leaf clear­ing.

Key to the gar­den’s suc­cess is its sound struc­ture, for which Sue and

“Our gar­den gives us a lit­tle oa­sis of our own”

hus­band Richard re­ceived more than a lit­tle help from a neigh­bour who had set up his own busi­ness af­ter train­ing with the in­flu­en­tial de­signer and land­scaper John Brookes. The help­ing hand came from Cleve West who would go on to win gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. “We’ve known Cleve since we moved here in 1981 and 20 years ago we asked him if he would do our gar­den,” ex­plains Su­san. “He dug the pond him­self and in­cor­po­rated sev­eral of the gar­den’s ex­ist­ing fea­tures within his de­sign, in­clud­ing an old ap­ple tree that was grow­ing at an an­gle.”

Af­ter po­si­tion­ing the pond close to the house Cleve built a se­ries of brick pil­lars topped with York stone pavers to pro­vide ac­cess across to the back of the plot. “We love our pond: in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment it’s ter­ri­bly im­por­tant to en­cour­age am­phib­ians,” says Su­san.

Deck­ing was in­stalled im­me­di­ately out­side the slid­ing doors and on two fur­ther lev­els, the lat­ter pro­vid­ing steps lead­ing up to a dis­creet shed at the high­est point. “The canopies of the trees and shrubs at the back of the gar­den cre­ate shade, which is a great spot for a ham­mock on re­ally hot days, and we can en­joy the sun­shine from the deck­ing clos­est to the house,” ex­plains Su­san.

Two decades on the gar­den has more than stood the test of time. “John Brookes talked about the idea of ‘the out­door room’ back in the 1960s and Cleve was in­flu­enced by this con­cept when de­sign­ing our gar­den, which is now an enor­mous part of our life,” says Su­san. “We can sit in­doors and watch it chang­ing as the sun comes around, or be out­side and not feel as though there’s lots to keep on top of.”

Slid­ing doors open­ing onto the Coel­hos’ deck­ing en­able in­doors and out to merge seem­lessly. Step­ping stones in the small rec­tan­gu­lar pond be­yond lead to a sec­ond deck­ing area

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