Serenity in the City: Primrose Hill, London.

The serene spaces we have created to front and back of this property are a natural extension of the house’s modern, open-plan interior. Cornus kousagrows in four large pots to either side of the front door, illuminating the space with pale flowers in spring, and creating a dramatic splash of autumn colour. The Sarcococca confusa, growing beneath them gives flowers and scent in the depths of winter.

 

The slender trunks of hornbeams (Quercus ilex) emerge from a slate-grey planter opposite the back door, their pleached canopies screening the garden throughout the year. All the pots, planters and furniture here are characterised by the kind of simple elegance that guarantees serenity in even the smallest space. We have planted a carefully curated selection of plants and shrubs to create a vibrant mix of scents, colours and textures throughout the year. First comes the mid-winter perfume of Sacococca, then the compact mounds of Japanese mock orange (Pittosporum tobira nanum) bear their honey-scented flowers. Soon the violet-blue of hardy geranium ‘Roxanne’ is seen alongside white valerian and the inky spikes of Salvia nemorosa caradonna, plants that can be relied on to give their all throughout the summer. This sunny palette is drenched in scent by summer jasmine scrambling up the wall, and underpinned by the darker, more exotic notes of Disporum cantoniense ‘Black heron’, with its dusky stems and green flowers. Late summer sees the lace-caps of climbing Hydrangea petiolarison the fence, and in autumn the star of the garden is the multi-stemmed Clerodendron trichotomum, with unusual, heavily scented flowers that are followed by blue-black berries.