Coastal Gardens


Contemporary design featured in 'Gardens Monthly'

Phillip lives in a 50's red-brick block of six flats on the seafront. The residents are about to have the block re-style to make it a little more contemporary, perhaps with a new entrance, rendering the brickwork and new balcony treatments using glass and stainless steel.
The large area to the front of the block is maintained weekly but lacks style. At present it is also a wasted space which is unused by the residents.
The owners of the ground floor flats must be considered in the design and no communal area should be too close to their windows or obstruct their view of the harbour beyond.
The garden they would like should be stylish, useable and a positive feature of the development. Work would be undertaken by contractors so projects need not be of a DIY level. Although each flat would contribute to the cost, the bugdet is not limitless and the work should add as much, if not more to the value of the properties.
Phillip would like...
1. A communal garden.
2. Somewhere to sit and perhaps a barbecue area.
3. A contemporary design.
4. Plants that will cope with the exposed (and often windy) situation.
5. Some form of subtle lighting.
Phillip doesn't like
1. The central lawn with flowerbeds around the edge design.
2. Anything too fussy.
3. '`Mediterranean" gardens full of pots and ornaments.





John has chosen the surrounding landscape his inspiration, taking references from the Purbeck Hills in the distance and the yachts and sail boards that use the water directly in front of the apartments.

Garden designer John Bickerton is familiar with the limitations imposed by a seaside garden as he specialises in their design and maintenance. So it’s not surprising that the landscape beyond was the inspiration for his design.

"I like to make reference to the surrounding landscape in the gardens I design", explains John. "Phillip’s garden is a good example, where natural elements can be used to link the garden to the landscape beyond, but still produce something that is sleek, modern and stylish.
"Excavating the area was the only option if the space was to become useable without obstructing the views from the ground floor apartments.

As the site is roughly square I decided to create a sunken round terrace with white rendered concrete walls for a dramatic and modern effect. To make the area seem larger, and allow it to drain, I’ve suggested a terracotta brick paving which should be laid on consolidated hardcore and sharp sand. An additional drainage hole through the existing boundary wall will also keep this area free of surface water.

"The garden is approached via a flight of circular steps from the entrance level, a shape and structure that is mirrored and complemented by a raised water feature opposite. This upper bowl spills down into a narrow lower channel, the water being pumped back to the top pool to form a ripple effect. In such a position, with strong prevailing winds, a fountain would be out of the question, but a pivoting stainless steel weather vane will add height and movement.

"I’ve used two diagonal lines for additional interest. The first is more visible, a ‘fault line‘ of Purbeck stone laid on edge and disappearing down into the terrace paving and then re-appearing the other side. This makes a link to the distant Purbeck Hills the other side of the harbour. Adjacent to this is a line of silver grey planting which echos the structure and adds an accent colour.

"Planting has been kept minimal to reduce maintenance and not obscure the view beyond – with the exception of a clump of cordylines by the vehicle entrance which will screen the phone box and telegraph poles beyond. Chosen for texture, colour and year-round interest, the grasses, phromiums, pine, box and cordylines will complement any seasonal colour provided by an underplanting of lavender and iris. What’s more, they’ll all survive the sometimes harsh weather conditions a coastal garden can provide.

"With modern seating and protection from the prevailing winds, the sunken garden should become an informal haven and meeting place for all the apartment owners. Somewhere to enjoy their outdoor space without being buffeted by the wind or stared at by passers by."

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