Communal Garden, High Street Kensington

Communal Garden, High Street Kensington

This was my first experience of designing for a communal garden.

The project was for two neighbours with houses at one end of the garden. The existing layout was haphazard and impractical. One neighbour had a lot of paving but arranged in such a way that she could not really use it; the other had nowhere to sit at all, the tiny area outside her house squashed against an untidy slope. The planting was random, with a secondary path from the rest of the garden ending, for no obvious reason, in the middle of a flower bed – an invitation to children from further along the row to trample what plants there were.

The whole space was also dominated by a magnolia tree. A beautiful plant, but old and overgrown. We brought in a tree surgeon to prune it back and bring some light into the space – and slowly we began to see wood for trees.

After negotiation with the board, we also cut off that random secondary path –  which in turn meant the slope could be replaced by a retaining wall, making room for a seating area.

The final design is all about intimate spaces that preserve the sense of community while allowing a little privacy. The neighbours ended up with three paved seating areas between them, linked by zig-zag or meandering paths that break the direct sightlines. The mixed height planting makes it easy either to sit without being overlooked or to wave at your neighbour through a gap in the greenery, according to your mood.




Family Garden in Orpington