James Aldridge

LANDSCAPE AND GARDEN DESIGN

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Peckham I

This recently completed garden in Peckham was strongly influenced by the clients and designers love of Japan. The intention was to combine elements of Japanese design to create a modern garden for city living.

An upper and lower terrace are separated by a large mass of planting. A generous path cuts through this and its direction is guided by a large apple tree that arcs out over the garden. The tree has been carefully pruned to enhance its sculptural shape.

Charred hardwoods, using Japanese techniques, were used to form decorative panels, a storage space and bar area.

Paving and steps are formed from light and dark grey long granite strips. Planting is highly influenced by natural vegetation seen in Japan with an emphasis on fine textures and low contrast.

Key features of the garden are illuminated at night to spectacular effect.

Photography: © James Aldridge

Chelsea II

This secluded garden wraps around three sides of the house providing intimate spaces connected by a long narrow path. The garden is a calm inward looking retreat from the hectic city beyond its walls.

The clients wished to have a garden that complimented the strong interior of their home and one that would looks good throughout the year whilst requiring low levels of maintenance.

Planting is composed of strong architectural elements to balance the generous floating limestone steps. Four mature box-headed Hornbeams provide the overhead structure which are balanced with large domes of English Yew. The boundaries are clothed with tall narrow hedges of sweet bay and flowering evergreen climbers that fill the garden with scent in high summer.

The surfaces are restricted to sawn pale limestone and irregular marble cobbles that give the garden a rich texture.

Key features of the garden are illuminated at night to spectacular effect.

Photography: © Marianne Majerus

Peckham II

The design of this south facing rear garden is informed by the geometry of the house and garden walls.

The new layout  is a series of four shallow levels of equal size, acting like giant steps. A path of sawn York stone connects these on one size. The levels are retained by Corten steel, a material used throughout the project.

‘L’ shaped panels of Corten steel, following the inherent geometry of the scheme, form a partial screen on one side. These are framed by a living wall of evergreen scented climbers behind.

Toward the end of the garden is a pool with water spout which fills the garden with the gentle sound of moving water.

There are three socializing spaces within the garden. An elevated verandah on the rear of the house, a central area for dining and parties plus a further covered area at the end.

The planting is a carefully edited selection of semi wild plants that pick up the tones of the hard landscaping. Added to the mix are a number of more exotic species to provide drama.

The scheme is lit to dramatic effect at night.

Mayfair Roof Terrace

This award winning project is a seventh floor roof terrace, looking east out over the city and to the financial districts beyond.

The brief was to provide a flexible space that could be used for entertaining, meetings and a stimulating place for employees to relax. The board rooms full height windows overlook the terrace so it was vital that the terrace look great throughout the year.
 
Weight loading restrictions meant that a creative solution had to be found to provide screening and shelter to this exposed space. Lines and blocks of white and black fiber glass rods were used, with broad brush strokes, to enclose the space and frame distant views. These ‘Sticks’ gently sway with the wind and add much needed movement to this static space. They are illuminated from below to stunning effect at night.

Planting is restricted to pairs of large Yucca rostrata in oversized bowls and a perimeter of upright Panicum grasses.

Photography: © Marianne Majerus

Oxfordshire

Working in partnership with Isabel and Julian Bannerman, we helped develop a master-plan for this large Grade I listed hall in Oxfordshire. The brief included the main drive and courtyard, ornamental terrace gardens, swimming pool and walled garden.

Sussex II

This concept design was for a new country house in West Sussex with a large contemporary landscape and garden. The scheme realised the full potential of the site with particular regard to the dramatic views out over the countryside to the distant Sussex Downs. Site specific sculpture and land art were central to the scheme, that were framed and enclosed with large areas of native woodland and exotic prairie planting

Sussex

Having completed the client's London garden we were approached to provide specific proposals for the derelict vegetable garden to this grade II listed 1930s Modernist house on Chichester Harbour. Additionally a master-plan for the entire site was produced which had to link disparate elements on the property and deal with salination and rabbit and deer infestations.

Photography: James Aldridge

Tiger Territory

“Tiger Territory” opened to the public during 2013. This new enclosure of 2,500 square meters is the home of the Zoo’s Sumatran Tigers, a critically endangered sub-species.

Working in close partnership with Wharmby Kozdon Architects and the Zoo's horticultural department, we designed the landscape based on the natural habitat of the animals. This was achieved using plants hardy to the United Kingdom that evoked the look and feel of the forests and glades of Sumatra with the aim of providing the best possible surroundings for the Tigers.

Penguin Beach

Our first scheme for London Zoo was as landscape consultants on the “Penguin Beach” project which opened in 2011.

Working in close partnership with Wharmby Kozdon Architects and the Zoo's horticultural department, we designed the landscape for a new 1,200 square meter pool and enclosure, the largest in the U.K.

The island of Chiloe off the cost of Chile, which has a penguin colony, was the source of inspiration for the landscaping and plant selection. The woodland edges and shorelines were imitated to create a sympathetic habitat for the birds and a suitable setting for the pool. Additionally we handled the landscaping to the new shop and exit from the Zoo which were completed at the same time.

Yorkshire

This project was for a large country garden surrounding an historic house in North Yorkshire. The clients wanted a scheme inspired by the great gardens of the 20th century such as Hidcote and Sissinghurst. They stipulated the proposals should include a variety of ‘garden rooms’. The new design required the removal of several large farm buildings and the re-routing of the entrance drive to created a new double forecourt to the East of the property. Additionally there are large lawns, flower gardens, a knot garden, water gardens, fruit and vegetable areas and a raised viewing mound with a spiral walkway from which there are wonderful views out to the North Yorkshire Moors. The project is in continued development.

Photography: James Aldridge

Dumfries and Galloway

This project was for a new garden in an area of outstanding beauty in South West Scotland. The property has spectacular views out over Wigtown Bay and required the creation of a series of sheltered terraces from which the client could enjoy these views. Additionally a new front courtyard was made with planting to frame the house and sheltered side gardens.

Photography: James Aldridge

Lighting

Creative lighting is used to highlight major features and extend a gardens usability.

Water

Water has featured in many of our projects and this element is used to bring life to a range of gardens.

Planting

With an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants we constantly strive to realise original planting schemes for all our gardens.

Mallorca

Throughout my career I have worked with garden journalist and writer Stephen Lacey to develop a unique garden in Majorca. I have designed a number of pools, fountains and steps. Of particular note is a 100 meter limestone rill which runs from the main terrace by the house, down through the garden to a raised stone reservoir. There is a seven meter drop during its course and this necessitated a number of falls and cascades at important points on its journey. These were designed to enhance the sound and help mask distant traffic noise.

Knightsbridge II

This project involved the redevelopment of a front garden to a substantial property in Knightsbridge. The existing expanse of paving and underground storage was reconfigured to form two planting beds. A pair of multi-stemmed Scarlet Hawthorns are the main structural planting which soften the dominant white facade. The planting beds are changed seasonally to ensure continued flower interest. A group of four French Regency cast iron urns provide the central focus to the scheme. 

Photography: James Aldridge

Belgravia II

This unusual roof terrace in Belgravia sits just above street level, is partly enclosed by the high walls of adjacent buildings, and is reached by a footbridge. The space had a very dynamic feel, which was our starting point.

To unify the space we decked the main terrace in faded grey timbers and coloured the surrounding walls in warm grey. This provided a calm backdrop for the abundant planting.

In order to make the space feel more comfortable and less exposed we introduced a grid of nine multi-stemmed white birch trees planted in polished concrete containers. These helped to link the terrace to the surrounding gardens and provide privacy. We also added groups of taupe clay pots filled with long stemmed lavender that provided both a physical barrier and a visual one from adjoining properties.

The lightwell below the footbridge was abundantly planted so it now feels like walking over a jungle ravine when accessing the roof terrace.

Photography: Andrew Lawson

Kensington II

The brief for this challenging space was to create an outdoor dining area that would address the problems of privacy and year-round interest.

The focus of the scheme is a linear group of four over-scaled simple planters, each with its own stone plinth. These large pots are planted with multi-stemmed Himalayan White Birch whose dramatic stems are a joy throughout the year while their leaves introduce gentle sound and movement. This essence of this bold gesture is a theme that is repeated throughout the garden.

A sense of calm is achieved by the generous use of vibrant greens set against a backdrop of soothing warm grey. The majority of the boundary walls are clothed in a heavily scented evergreen climber that fills the garden with rich scent throughout the summer.

Photography: James Aldridge

Chelsea IV

As part of the redevelopment of this Chelsea townhouse, the clients wanted a new garden that would maximise space for a growing family.

The garden has two parts. A terrace leads directly from the principal floor and provides a sheltered seating space. Stairs lead from this to the main part of the garden, an enclosed courtyard. Three sides are surrounded with evergreen Espalier trees to provide privacy without casting shade. The sense of space is maximised by the use of a minimal number of light coloured materials and the use of repetition and rhythm. A generous English Oak table forms the central focus for the garden.

Photography: James Aldridge

Chelsea III

Working within the context of an existing garden, the client wished to revisit the planting scheme. Together we devised a design that worked with the minimal layout and provided a setting for the client's artwork. The abstract works of artist such as Malevich and the gardens of Japan were a strong inspiration during the development of the scheme. The result was a bold abstract composition that was interpreted using a minimal palette of clipped Buxus and grasses all of which were chosen for their year-round interest. 

Photography: James Aldridge

Knightsbridge

This Knightsbridge rooftop was a chance to explore some unusual colour combinations as the client had requested a distinctive solution for this intimate roof terrace.

A beautifully proportioned rectangle of black marble pebbles forms the paving surface at the heart of this terrace framed by a raised hardwood border and deck.

Privacy from surrounding houses is provided by horizontal timber slats of varied widths, these gently faded timbers and warm grey walls provide a soothing backdrop to the colour accents.

The focus of the scheme is a geometric group of nine square cubes glowing like blocks of amber when illuminated at night.

Polished concrete containers in simple silhouettes are planted with yellow caned bamboos and a hardy Aloe from South Africa provides the graphic planting element of this scheme.

The composition is completed with the addition of striking contemporary furniture in charcoal and acid green.

Photography: Andrew Lawson

Fulham

With a new family on the way the client asked for a large multi-use space that would be easy to maintain and look wonderful throughout the year.

The house was to be remodelled with a large family kitchen at its heart. By sliding back a wall of glass doors its volume is suddenly doubled by the physical addition of this outdoor room.

The internal floor flows out onto a beautifully proportioned deck that extends almost to the boundaries of the property. The vertical sides of the garden are a balance of gently faded timber slats and scented green wall, formed by training evergreen climbers over a bespoke metal framework. A cutout within this framework reveals the boundary wall tiled with white pebbles. This gently textured backdrop offsets the clean vertical stems of the primitive Horsetail that form a band of minimal planting at the rear of the garden. The only other plant used within the scheme is a sculptural Fig tree which acts as a counterbalance to the architectural planting.

A white concrete bar was created as a useful surface for entertaining and to provide storage space. This extends the line of the internal work surface and helps to reinforce the sense of inside outside space.

As with all our schemes, creative lighting is used to highlight the major features and extend the gardens usability.

Photography: Andrew Lawson

Putney

This award-winning garden is located on the Thames at Putney and the river provided the main source of inspiration for the development of the design.

The garden is split into two separate levels. The first, a polished concrete terrace, runs out from the main living space. This cantilevers out over an ornamental pool that runs the full width of the garden. Three COR-TEN steel spouts bring the sound of moving water into the garden and create an air of tranquility.

The lower terrace is reached by a flight of metal steps over the pool. The paving, composed of granite setts in four shades of grey, is based on a painting by Bridget Riley and echoes the lines and ripples of the river. COR-TEN steel is used throughout the scheme to create subtle detailing on bench uprights, paving edges and step risers and is further echoed in the planting. Three mature specimen Strawberry trees help to frame views and bring a sense of maturity to the scheme.

Photography: James Aldridge

Kensington

This award-winning project included both the front and rear gardens of this property in Kensington. The client wished to have a strong visual connection between both these spaces as they were seen in tandem through several floors of the house.

A limestone from North Africa was used throughout the scheme with subtle surface treatments applied to highlight variations in use. Planting was restricted to a tapestry of green with highlights of soft colour and scent throughout the year.

The rear garden is divided by three low stacked stone plinths and black clay pots which help to define the space creating privacy and depth. A pair of Judas trees provide dramatic vertical accents while a hedge of Podocarps forms the fine textured backdrop to the sculptural composition.

Photography: James Aldridge

Wimbledon

This Wimbledon garden was created in close collaboration with Gregory Phillips Architects who created the dramatic contemporary kitchen at the rear of this arts and crafts house.

At the heart of the garden lies a perfect square of lawn that provides a setting for the building as well as addressing the recreational needs of the family. It is separated from the house by a basalt lined reflection pool over which a beautifully articulated bridge of solid basalt sleepers leads to the house terrace.

A second terrace at the rear of the garden appears to float above the lawn and provides a visual full stop to the composition by means of a stone clad feature wall. The same detail is used on the terrace by the house.

Blocks of clipped Yew and multi-stemmed White Himalayan Birch frame the lawn on either side. A flowering wall composed of a mix of scented, evergreen climbers forms the right hand boundary, this tapestry of exotic plants fills the air with clouds of scent during the summer.

Planting is composed of a subtle combination of fine textured plants whose colours pick up and compliment the materials within the scheme. The emphasis lies very much on providing continual interest in what is essentially a minimal garden.

At night this calm scheme is transformed when key elements of the design are dramatically illuminated.

Photography: James Aldridge

Chelsea

The essence of this scheme was to carve out a garden that complimented the house and its beautifully crafted interior whilst providing a backdrop for the demands of family life.

The structure of the garden is formed from a carefully selected range of hedges and clipped forms whose gentle contrast of greens form the backbone for the scheme. This strong sense of abstract formality is softened by the inclusion of delicate trees and exuberant white flowered perennials.

The hard landscaping is restricted to simple limestone chipping pathways and a precisely detailed French limestone terrace at the rear of the property.

Photography: © Marianne Majerus

Belgravia

The brief for this split-level roof terrace in Belgravia was to create a serene outdoor room.

To give a strong sense of light and space, pale limestone paving was used throughout the scheme. This choice was reinforced by selecting materials of similar colours and differing textures for all other elements of the terrace. The rear wall of the site was clad in horizontal bands of split pebbles dramatically illuminated from above at night.

As the immediate surroundings were unsightly the terrace was enclosed with screens of Western Red Cedar and now the eye is carried out to views of distant trees. 

The planting is confined to a series of simple containers with beautiful stone finishes. A large Lemon tree provides fruit throughout the year and fills the terrace with delicious scent in early summer. Other containers are filled with exotic white Agapanthus which flowers continuously during the summer.

Bronze coloured armchairs and a sofa make an uplifting contrast to the subtle background colouring.

Photography: James Aldridge

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