"I have a 40 foot awkwardly sloping garden in Highgate, London…” So began the brief from our lovely QC client. Sited on a north-facing slope on heavy clay soil, it still had lots of potential.

We try to work with the specific attributes of a site rather than against them. Here, the position lent itself to woodland-y planting, and to utilising the sharp gradient to create a dramatic two-level garden. The top level consists of an Ipé deck jutting out from the house, akin to a jetty sitting in and above the planting below. To stand up to the bold architecture of the house, we used substantial supporting posts for the deck. The lower area consists of reclaimed york stone paving surrounded by generous beds, with a granite sett path arcing its way through the planting. The dramatic foliage of Gunnera kilipiana, Rice Paper Plant and Rodgersia is intermingled with Toad Lily, Geum ‘Leonards Variety’ and Mathiasella ‘Green Dream’ to provide dabs of colour. The best bits of all are the hidden fernery and floating hedge. Located underneath the projecting deck, the fernery is only visible for those who venture down into the garden, and is filled with shade-loving pteridophytes, Aspidistras and Chrysosplenium. The Hornbeam hedge that borders the deck at ground level shoots off the end of it, becoming a hedge on stilts as the ground drops below it. Our client now has the planting plan framed in her house - a wonderful project from conception to implementation.

Highgate, London

5 weeks

Levels, hidden fernery, floating hedge