Jan 132013


My friends Tim and Alan have recently moved to Brighton, where they’ve bought a house that is identical to the one they lived in in London. The only differences are that the new house is a bit larger, has a loft extension and was cheaper (natch). As all their furniture is in exactly the same place as it was in the old house, the effect is a tad disconcerting. I only remembered I was in Brighton and not East Dulwich when a seagull screeched outside.

I once mortally offended Tim and Alan by telling them that their London garden ‘could’ be very nice, when in their opinion it already was very nice (I’m not known for my tact). This time I was careful to keep quiet, but even Tim and Alan agreed that they’ll need to sort out their front garden at some point. It’s typical of so many terraces – less than a metre deep and currently consisting of some dodgy paving and some recycling bins.

This house, a few doors down, has dealt with this tricky space by filling it with big evergreens. The bamboo and fatsia are low maintenance and provide a screen against prying eyes. They also give lots of impact, even on a dark winter’s day.

Feb 082011

Portland Place W1

Broadcasting House on Portland Place has been under wraps for months, and now it’s £1bn extension is complete. It’s all very snazzy but I must admit I noticed the new Portland Stone planters outside first.

Now I’ve always thought that planters in a street are a lovely idea, but surely they must double up as 1) litter bins or 2) urinals? These lovely examples are quite tall, thus hopefully averting the latter problem. But there was already an abandoned coffee cup among the fatsia and box and a big dark brown stain (coffee from the aforementioned cup, I hope!) on the white stone.

These planters aren’t here just to jolly up the place, though. Apparently they’re part of a security ‘ring of steel’ to ward off a terrorist attack and contain reinforced concrete. So plants are now part of the war on terror…

Jan 212011

St John's Wood

This posh terrace of houses really stood out this morning as their front gardens are so green. All of the gardens have a similar set-up – some bamboos, fatsias, choisyas and so on, plus bin stores covered in alpines and evergreens. Quite a few of them have little seating areas. They look very similar, so maybe they were planted by the same person. Whoever it was certainly knew what they were doing.