Jun 172015
Red geraniums and rosemary on a balcony in Spitalfields

Spitalfields, London

I’ve always found it amazing how, in London, you can find yourself in a sea of people on a busy thoroughfare like Oxford Street, then turn down a side street and find yourself alone, in almost spooky silence.

That’s what happened last week, when we went to a birthday party in Spitalfields on a Sunday afternoon. The house was just off Brick Lane, which was heaving with tourists. It reminded me that milling with crowds of people at markets was was never my idea of a good Sunday when I lived in London (my idea of a good Sunday back then was getting out of London altogether) and it looked even less appealing to my out-of-towner’s eyes.

Once we turned the corner, though, it was a completely different story. It was deathly quiet. And so it was, too, from the terrace and balcony at the top of the house, even though we could almost reach out and touch the nearby City skyline. I didn’t manage to get any good pictures because of the number of people, but both spaces were cleverly planted, with lots of herbs, tender plants that you can only get away with in London’s microclimate, and red geraniums mixed with rosemary in apple boxes. The balcony and terrace were also rigged up with thin copper pipes, which gave a pergola effect (see my previous post), something for climbers to trail along, and an added sense of safety (the balconies were only waist height, and a tad disconcerting for anyone who, like me, suffers from vertigo).

You can’t go wrong with red geraniums, can you? Especially on a balcony where they give impact from afar. It made me feel a little nostalgic for my old balcony, but not for the continuous feeling I had when I was living there that I’d rather be living somewhere else.


Oct 122011


This garden is tiny – no more than a couple of metres square – but it’s managed to squeeze in a silver birch, some evergreen shrubs (lavender and rosemary) and a wisteria. The colour palette is greens, whites, purple and greys (the white bark is going to look great in winter) and it’s low maintenance and drought tolerant too. Sometimes the simplest ideas really are the best.