Courtyard Garden, Berkhamsted
This courtyard garden was the second of three gardens we designed for the same property (see also Country Garden and Professional Garden). When we first visited this 2-acre site the Victorian country house, Berkhamstead, was midway through a three-storey extension and renovation.
Due to the topography of the site the gardens that surrounded the house divided neatly into three areas: an upper garden; a large sweeping front garden; and a level sunny area, which opened up from the side and back of the house.
Outside the new family room was a large area of level ground that was bathed for most of the day in a pool of sunshine. It was the perfect spot, overlooking the rest of the garden, for a summer courtyard garden.
Enclosed on two sides by brick retaining walls, the courtyard was designed with built-in seating and raised planters, both of which were lit by ambient lighting. The taller walls were built from reclaimed bricks to match the country style of the house, while the lower walls were rendered and finished with lime white paint.
Honed Indian sandstone gave the patio a warm glow as well as perfectly matching the paving inside the house. Water was a cooling sensory feature within the courtyard.
A stainless steel water wall, burnished with a metal flame motif, provides a focal point to the centre of the courtyard garden while at the far end of the courtyard two interlocking circular ponds are linked together by a waterfall.
A backdrop of black bamboo, box balls, palms, cordylines and slender Italian cypress created shelter and privacy, while fragrant roses, jasmine climbers, lavender and purple globes of alliums lent this country garden courtyard a heady, Mediterranean feel.
Subtle use of red, which was a feature of the interior finishes to the house, was used to link the three gardens.
It was used in the different shades of brickwork specified for the walls, paths and the raised beds and for the planting; with the use of plants such as berberis, dogwood, phormium and smoke bush, which all have reddish hues; as well as plantings of red roses and tulips.
This provided a unity to the overall scheme.