Gothic Garden

A new build home in the middle of a housing estate, overlooked by neighbouring houses and with little greenery or planting does not seem like the ideal place to create a peaceful and tranquil garden. However, we were invited to design a garden just like this, with the challenging task of incorporating a coffin shaped planter, black planting and a feeling of Victorian romance and Mysticism (a nod to their ‘Goth’ roots). The clients also wanted to create privacy and a clever design that would help reduce the noise pollution associated with a busy housing estate.

The red brick house had a relatively small square garden surrounded by a 6 foot fence on three sides. The design began by convincing the client to paint the fence black which added a sense of refuge, yet gives the illusion of space: the black fence also recedes into the background and makes any green planting ‘pop’.

Pleached trees were suggested for privacy but were not agreed to by the neighbours. Instead, a sunken seating area was tucked into one corner to create a snug, private space to relax and entertain. Alongside runs a raised Corten-steel water feature which cascades into a rectangular pool, a stepping stone in the middle of the pool bridges the path to the snug. The movement of water provides a calming splash and the acoustics help negate the sound of people and traffic from beyond the garden.

Large planting beds increased the feeling of privacy within the garden and a sense of entering spaces which gradually reveale themselves whilst walking around the garden. The Gothic story of this garden leaned our designers to choose plants with a darker colour palette and foliage. We took the clients to a tree nursery to choose their own three mature Japenese Acers to add immediate impact and beautiful autumn colour. Other plants included Echinacea, Geranium, Salvia nemorosa and grasses such as Anemanthele lessoniana, Stipa tenuissima and Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ bringing this garden to life. In contrast, the notion of death is revealed in the garden through a bespoke designed Corten planter in the shape of a coffin which adds a subtle nod to our wonderful clients Gothic humour.