Photo: garden by Wildroof Landscapes Penrith Cumbria

A courtyard transformation

A courtyard transformation

We like a challenge and this Cockermouth courtyard certainly tested our team. Overlooked on all sides and with limited access, this confined space was to be transformed into a relaxing green haven for the clients (Richard and Debs).

Knowing where to start is always an issue. We had a detailed conversation about budget, time frame and the cost implications of limited access. We also talked about favourite plants, how Richard and Debs wanted to use the garden and how much time they would have to maintain it. All these things, as well as the light and shade, soil and drainage, need to be integrated into a successful design.

We agreed a plan and divided the labour so that Richard and Debs could make the most of their budget. They used us for the tasks that needed our expertise and skills but did a lot of the clearing work and graft themselves.

The garden is now the green outdoor entertaining space that they wanted. A brightly-painted wall (Deb’s choice of yellow) adds vibrant colour and there are two seating areas, one with an awning, to give the courtyard a welcoming feel. Despite the surrounding buildings, the garden gets plenty of sunlight so these seating areas are placed to enjoy it throughout the day. Different sizes of the same type of paving, an Indian sandstone from Pavestone, define zones, outdoor lighting extends the garden’s use into the darker hours and visual tricks like a window-shaped mirror create an impression of more space.

Raised beds create a depth of soil sufficient for trees and plants to thrive. That soil needed to be moved through the building and into the courtyard but the beds can now be maintained and the soil will support the garden for years to come.

Creating height, especially along the boundaries, prevents a feeling of being overlooked and enclosed so there are four trees towards the edges of the garden, two Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Robin Hill' and two Acer daviddii 'George Forest'. There is then another acer, Acer palmatum ‘Osakasuki’, in the central planting. Acers mean there will be vivid colour in the autumn months.

A mix of clematis and other climbers then add height as well as a profusion of greenery and colour. Hydrangea petiolaris thrives in Cumbrian gardens and this scheme also includes Actinidia kolomikta for its foliage colour. Six different types of clematis, including 'Sweet Scentsation', 'Duchess of Cornwall' and clematis armandii 'Snowdrift', mean that there is always something new to enjoy with flowering at different times of year.

Finally, to meet the client’s request for lush planting, the beds and a selection of pots have been planted with hydrangeas, iris and several different grasses.

The resulting garden certainly makes the most of a confined space to create an outdoor haven of greenery that can be enjoyed throughout the year.