This Riverside Retreat Combines Geometric Lines With Wild Planting Creating a Stylish Space to Relax and Unwind
The owners of this sloping garden in St Albans, Hertfordshire, wanted to make the very most of its stunning riverside location and create a living space for year-round relaxing and entertaining. With a new extension on their 1960s home featuring sliding doors that opened across the width of the house, the view was important too. Cue designer Rosemary Coldstream (rosemarycoldstream.com), who created a modern courtyard garden that’s every bit as beautiful as its dramatic riverbank setting.
The garden is long and narrow, 6 x 10m, so Rosemary chose a geometric design, with an emphasis on the horizontal to maximise the width of the plot. “It drops down to the river with four gradual changes of level, which enhance the views across the water,” explains Rosemary. “The lower terrace is reminiscent of a jetty, cantilevered over the water and wrapping around a tree. The curved seating there creates a spot to sit and watch the world – and the local wildlife – drift by. It’s the perfect place for a late-afternoon G&T!” The modern, clean lines are accentuated with the limited choice of materials and colour. “Using the same stone for the paving, wall cladding and copings makes the garden look seamless,” says Rosemary. Plants soften the straight lines, with grasses and easy-to-look-after flowers such as Verbena bonariensis and sedum ‘Matrona’. “They all look great with the blue-grey granite,” adds Rosemary. The only plants retained from the old plot are three trees – swamp cypress, foxglove and magnolia – the latter two being moved to new positions, where they frame the view to the river and the land beyond.
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