His latest development, Painters Yard in Old Chelsea, is an enclave of houses, cottages and flats, built round a courtyard. Where some developers are tempted to make greedy use of every square centimetre for housing, he has allowed garden designer Anthea Gibson to make a quiet sanctuary in which trees line a stone waterway of architectural beauty. He appreciates the soft edge Anthea brings to formal garden structures, Drew barrymore’s home and finds her approach â” the modern tempered with the classical â” in sympathy with his own wide-ranging tastes.
Anthea studied fine art and architecture at university and, later, garden design at the Inchbald School. Her many projects have included two gardens for the disabled, one at Kew and one for the charity Aspire at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, in support of which she now opens her own acclaimed garden at Westwell in Oxfordshire. EXTERIOR DIALOGUE OPPOSITE Property developer Richard Collins and garden designer Anthea Gibson collaborated on landscaping the courtyard. A stone water rill bisects the repeating pattern of brick and stone sstts. Antiques dealer Robert Kime supplied the stone urn. Lead planters contain gleditsia trees and espaliered pear and cherry trees.
THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Water spills from a late-seventeeth-century bronze panther’s head. Elaeagnus hedging frames the view from this large terrace; a vine-covered arch leads from the ‘garden’ to the dining area. On a smaller, minimalist terrace, zinc containers of rosemary, santoiina and sage make a modern parterre large trees were necessary to balance thegravitas of the buildings’ proportions, so they had to be grown in containers. My plumber said, âœI can do lead work, I lined coffins for my apprenticeship.â So he made them. Once in place, lead improves with time â” oxidization and mud adding patina. I chose gleditsia trees from Barcham Trees near Ely, espaliered cherry and pear trees, and 100-year-old olive trees from Pistoia, transplanted in their own earth.
It is typical of Richard’s enthusiasm that he suggested we visit the nursery in Pistoia to chose them in December. They are underplanted with ribbons of agapanthus and Iris â˜Jane Phillips’ which flower in succession through spring and late summer. The back bed includes two large wisteria. A row of box balls in a low bed at the back of the upper terrace and pear trees give a countrified look. A mature fig tree is underplanted with dwarf bearded iris.