I promised I’d show you the transformation from my rather doleful, uninspiring area of grass to a stunning Mediterranean courtyard garden. I can take no credit because I had a designer to draw-up plans for the hard landscaping and planting. I made this rather impulsive decision during furlough. Like so many, I spent more time in the garden than usual. A garden transformation was something I was budgeting to do next year. However, we cancelled our family trip to Nerja because of Covid, so I reallocated that budget and brought the project forward.
The garden is quite small; about 7m wide by 6m long. It sloped in two directions: away from the house and laterally.
As you can see, there was nothing endearing or inspiring about the old garden, other than the fact it faces south. But I knew it had potential to be a fabulous extension of our kitchen-dining space which has both French doors and bifold doors leading onto the garden.
Creating a Mediterranean courtyard garden
I wanted the space to feel like an elegant Mediterranean courtyard garden. I realise this is quite generic, but I envisage terracotta pots, olive trees, whitewashed walls and somewhere shady to sit. This was the brief I gave to the designer. I just couldn’t imagine a finished design myself, because the garden was such an awkward shape.
I found the designer via an online search for garden designers in my area. Yorkshire Gardens caught my eye. Their portfolio was full of beautiful garden transformations which suited my aesthetic. I’m glad I did the research because it’s a big financial commitment, especially when the whole space needs remodelling.
The designer visited us at home to listen to our ideas and to take accurate measurements. He drew a 2-D plan which we amended slightly to suit .
The project took 11 working days with a team that ranged in number from two men to five. It took A LOT of man hours. They had to lift and remove the lawn. build two large raised beds and a pergola, lay the paving and reposition and build three steps.
I painted the fence and trellis before they started and once they’d finished, decided to repaint the shed the same shade.
The “finished” Mediterranean Courtyard Garden
In many ways this is an instant garden, but over the years, the vine will grow over the pergola, the plants will grow and fill out and the climbers will cover the fences and walls. I’ll add seasonal bulbs to the beds and plant some seeds. It already feels like additional living space; something to enjoy, entertain and relax in.
The designer recommended porcelain paving. I have to confess that I didn’t know such a thing existed for exterior use. Porcelain is much less absorbent than its natural stone counterpart. Consequently, it is more resistant to moisture damage and staining, so it’s low maintenance. This is Quartz Twilight by Prima Porcelain. I love the colour variation and how well it goes with the terracotta of the pots and the natural wood of the pergola and raised beds. It looks super juxtaposed with the duck-egg pebbles.
I had the terracotta pots already which we had planted with an olive plant and some herbs.
The raised beds are filled with perennials including grasses and white and pastel-coloured flowers. I have three Hydrangea “Annabelle” which produce huge white mophead blooms and scented climbers: honeysuckle, jasmine and a white rose on the fences walls of the house.
I’m thrilled. The space looks and feels so much bigger. It’s elegant and contemporary and has a feeling of escape and tranquility. It was at the very top end of my budget, but it’s worth it. The weather has been super most days since it was finished and we’ve sat out most days already. I’ve added some festoon lights to the pergola, (Ian installed some electric cabling before the works began), and I’ll add more lighting in due course.
These are brilliant. They’re lightweight and there’s a hole above each bulb they can be clipped onto hooks, branches or fence screws.
We have some cheap and cheerful garden furniture which will suffice for now. Next year though I’ll get some stylish seating, a table, a barbecue and some form of heating, (electric heater, chiminea or firepit) and I cannot wait.