Town House Garden Designs

(Grey, silver, blue and white)

This delightful if slightly extravagant plan is designed for a garden that slopes up away from the house. It is fairly traditional and formal in its concept and offers everything from a trompe l’oeil trellis arch to a fountain and small pond. The simple shape is enhanced by interesting planting.

From its wide terrace you can sit and enjoy the sweep of the steps lined with terracotta pots as it stretches along the terrace and joins the retaining wall. The view up the steps through the arch of New Dawn roses across the circular path with its turfed inner circle is finished with the classical trompe l’oeil trellis arch on the far wall and in front of it is a statue. This gives an added dimension to the garden.

On either side of the statue there are two sitting areas, each with its own individual character. On the right of the terrace is a lush arbour, a perfect foil for the statue at the back of the paved three-quarter moon sitting area, which faces south and makes a delightful afternoon resting place. On the opposite side beneath the birch tree is a European hardwood bench to catch the morning sun, with planted tubs placed on either side to add a stylish finish. Beneath the tree, shade-loving hostas and Euphorbia wulfenii are planted and make a perfect place for reading the Sunday papers and drinking morning coffee.

town house gardenThe garden is full of surprises. As you look directly in front of the ‘morning’ seating spot, your eye is drawn to the fountain and pond, behind which a mirror framed by an arch of ivy and passion flowers helps to create the illusion that this water garden leads to another and goes on for ver.

The substantial brick walls with trellis above are covered with evergreens and climbers, and on the right, which is the sunny side, are sweet-smelling flowering shrubs and climbers, with perennial herbaceous plants planted in front.

The functional aspects of the terrace are cleverly disguised and the simple bay trees in tubs at the bottom of the steps make an ideal gateway. On the right there is a 2 ft 6 in (75 cm) barbecue shelf surrounded by pots. The 3 ft (90 cm) high retaining wall has trailing plants cascading down the front and behind it hard herbs such as thyme and low-growing sage planted in the high bed, all adding to the aroma and interest of the terrace and making the retaining wall a pleasing feature. It is important to plant low-growing flowers and shrubs in the bed above the retaining wall so as not to enclose the terrace too much and make it claustrophobic.

In the far right hand corner is a dust bin store, nicely concealed in the corner cupboard hard by the climber-covered pergola which leads along the side of the house to the road. This pergola offers another opportunity to grow climbers, a delightful addition to any garden as they grow effortlessly towards the sky.

Birds are always fascinating and to encourage them in front of the herbs and perennial herbaceous plants a bird bath is placed on the retaining wall to enhance the view from the kitchen window. But do not have the bird bath too low or the cats will get the birds.

The kitchen door is surrounded by low troughs, sinks and jardinieres filled with soft herbs and seasonal colour. There is no garden shed as the lawn mower can go in the garage.

The garden is never dull, always interesting and delightful, and will need very little work other than cutting the grass, tying up the climbers and watering the containers.

Alternative garden design

The second design for a town house is an alternative for those who do not wish to have grass. It consists of a two-tiered terrace, with the steps leading from the first square terrace up to the second. This paved area is enclosed by trellis with the planting area behind: it is a secluded and pleasant place for sitting and eating, and more relaxing as it is placed away from the house.

alternative town house gardenThe pleasing irregular shape of the lower terrace surrounded by the retaining walls (holding back the higher level soil) gives the impression that the area is much larger than it is. The pots, urns and statues, plus the square water fountain and pool on the right of the lower terrace make this area also an interesting and exciting place to sit, altogether an imaginative and striking design.


T = Trouble free

Plants to surround the seating area, a difficult corner, east facing and quite shady.


T Betula jacquemontii (Himalayan birch). Ascending habit. Grows to 24 ft (7m). Mid-green leaves turning gold in autumn. Dazzling white trunk and branches. Peeling bark.

East corner shrubs (beneath tree)

T Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof (Silk tassel bush). Evergreen shrub with grey/silver green leaves. Male form has abundant catkins 9- 12 in (22.5-30cm) long in February and March. Likes half shade. Vulnerable to cold winds. Grows 8- 15 ft (2.5-4.5m), width 6-12 ft (1-½ – 3.5m). James Roof gives you extra long catkins.

T Hydrangea petiolaris. Deciduous self-clinging climbing hydrangea. Prefers shade, excellent clothing for walls. Delicate sprays of white flowers in June. Give it a few good ties as it grows or it may alarmingly peel off the wall; it needs a damp wall in order to cling properly. Grows to 15 X 15ft (4.5 X 4.5m).

T Euphorbia wulfenii. Dramatic evergreen sub-shrub. Grows 2-4 ft (60cm- 1.2 m), width up to 4ft (1.2 m). Wonderful bushy habit which has a tremendous impact when its green leaves and dense terminal panicles of green/yellow bracts appear each year in late winter.

Herbaceous and Bulbs

Iris sibiricaIris unguicularis An evergreen beardless iris. Height 9 in (22.5 cm). Long, dark green strap-shaped leaves. Soft lilac flowers with yellow blaze from October to March. Flowering starts later after a bad stnnmer.

T Hosta sicboldiana ‘Elegans’. Hardy perennial with large rather rounded silver-blue leaves and lilac flowers in June, July and August. Sun and shade loving. Height and width 2ft (60cm).

T Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem). The bulbous hardy plants grow up to 12 in (30 cm). Profusion of white flowers on corymbs in April to May. Easy and spreads well. Pretty when in flower. Generally trouble-free.

T Endymion nonscriptus (Bluebell). Bulbs. Blue flowers in spring. Win (25 cm) high. Excellent for keeping down the weeds in spring. (The Spanish bluebell E. hispanicus is easier to find but not so elegant as our native bluebell.)

T Helleborus foetidus. Yellowy cream flowers with magenta stripe in February to March. Strong shiny evergreen deep-cut leaves. Height 2ft (60cm). Spread 2ft (60 cm). Splendid ground cover under shrubs. Tends to seed itself. These seedlings can be dug up and planted together and will soon form a large clump.

astilbeAstilbe avendsii. Most attractive perennial providing it is planted in shade and has moist soil. Ideal for planting round a pond. It the soil is not moist astilbes will need regular watering in dry spells. Ferny mid-deep green foliage and long-lasting feathery flowers in late June. When established it divides well.

‘Bressingham Beauty’ has pink flowers, grows to 2ft 6 in (75 cm) ‘Deutschland’ has white flowers and grows to 2ft (60cm).

‘Faval’ has dark red flowers and grows to 2 ft (60cm).

Summer bedding

Nicotiana (Tobacco plants) in tubs on either side of the seat, with trailing Lobelia (annual) planted in between to give an elegant blue and white summer show.

Plants to grow round the small pond and fountain. This does not mean these plants are bog garden plants or need especially damp soil. They are just decorative plants suitable for the site.


Camellia williamsii ‘Francis Hanger’ Delightful evergreen shrub. Likes lime-free soil and benefits from a yearly top-dressing of peat. Height 6-8 ft (1.8-2.5m), spread 4-6ft (1.2-1.8m). Glossy dark green leaves and single white flowers which shed as they fade – true low maintenance! Erect upright habit. Camellias do not like early morning sun, so are ideal for a west-facing wall.

Fatsia japonica. Handsome evergreen shade tolerant shrub. Large glossy dark green leaves which make a striking contrast to other foliage. Height and spread about 8ft (2.5m). Can grow to 15ft (4.5m). White flowers in panicles in October, but this plant is really grown for its foliage.


T Passiflora caerulea (Passion flower). Vigorous evergreen (in mild conditions). Fragrant blue flowers with yellow centres (up to 4 in/10 cm across) from summer to autumn. Can grow to 20ft (6m).

Hedera helix ‘Green Ripple’ (Common Ivy). Hardiest of all evergreen climbers. Shiny evergreen leaves with a wavy edge. Can grow to 100 ft (30m) on a wall, but in this garden it will not get the opportunity.


T Rodgersia podophylla. Hardy perennial. Height 3-4ft (90cm-1.2m). Rough, horse-chestnut-like leaves with a jagged outline, mid-green colour often with a reddish sheen. Buff-coloured, feathery plumes of flowers in June and July.

T Bergenia cordifolia ‘Silberlicht’ (Elephants’ ears). Hardy evergreen. Large, round, flat mid-green leaves, about Win (25cm) long. White flowers faintly tinted with pink in the spring, excellent spreading ground cover. Tolerates sun and shade.

T Festuca glauca (Grass). Hardy perennial grass. Height 6-9in (15-22.5cm). Bristly hedgehog-like blue/grey spikes rise from thick central tuft. Typical grassy flowers in small spikes in June and July.

T Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern). Hardy fern. Pea-green fronds with broad leaflets. Reddish flowering’ leaves appear in summer. Needs to be kept moist all through the summer, so do not plant if this is not possible. Height and spread 4-5 ft (1.2- 1.5 m).

T Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silver Feather’. Another strong grass worthy of space. Hardy perennial. Narrow mid-green leaves with a white stripe down the middle. Silky reed-grass heads in autumn. ‘Silver Feather’ can grow to 6ft (1.8m). Likes sun.

Lilium candidum (Madonna lily). Lovely hardy lily which can be difficult to get established but worth a try. It must have full sun and can get botrytis disease. Height 4-5ft (1.2- 1.5m). Pale green leaves, large white trumpet-shaped fragrant flowers in June and fuly.

Eryngium X oliverianum (Sea holly). Most unusual and attractive herbaceous perennial. Perhaps not used more frequently because of its prickly and spiky greyish holly-like leaves. Height 2 ft -2ft 6 in (60-75 cm). Round blue thistle-like flower heads in fuly and August. Sun loving.

T Centaurea montana Perennial. Height 18in-2 ft (45-60cm). White, hairy, mid-green oblong leaves. Masses of open-faced daisy-like blue flowers in May and June. Likes sun or shade.

T Hosta crispula Hardy perennial. Height and spread 2 ft (60cm). Useful shade-loving plant. Dark green broad pointed leaves with definite white margins. Lilac blue flowers in August. Sun or shade.

Helleborus foetidus (Stinking hellebore). Hardy evergreen perennial. Shiny dark evergreen leaves and yellow-green flowers March to April. Attractive obliging plant which seeds itself If the plants are dug up and planted together within a year they will form an impressive clump. Height and width 18in (45 cm). Generally trouble-free.

16. June 2013 by admin
Categories: Shrub and Tree Garden, Types of Gardens | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Town House Garden Designs


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