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A jungle influenced, wildlife-haven in a small space
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