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We transformed a cold, hard courtyard into a lush jungle for top-end carpet designers, Colbourns Studio in Chelsea.

Every inch of space matters in London, and having somewhere to entertain clients outside make a big difference to urban businesses. We were brought into see a neglected, grey, hard space, with the brief to make it green, soft, inviting and relaxing. It originally looked like this:

hard courtyard as we found it Colbourns

In order to preserve as much space as possible for people, we designed a green curtain around the edges, and called on our friends at Everedge to custom-cut steel raised beds to size. In order to retain access to service panels, some of them had to be on wheels and, since some carried almost a ton of soil, the Everedge crew did an amazing job to conceal heavy-duty casters behind a lip, making the bed seem to float, despite its massive weight! We chose a rich, heavy mix of 50:50 topsoil & compost, custom-blended by Bourne Amenity, to provide lots of moisture and nutrients for the hungry bamboo.

steel planter from Everedge

Receiving very little direct sun, we had to choose a plant palette to provide evergreen foliage in shade, so provided over 30 Fargesia bamboos – these form clumps of slender stems, instead of sending out huge woody culms like Phyllostachys bamboos, which prefer sun. These were underplanted with Heuchera, ferns, Hakonechloa, Anemone and other herbaceous plants from the Palm Centre, to provide seasonal interest and colour variation. A massive tree fern was placed to provide a focal point for people inside, even when the doors were closed.

lush jungle foliage bamboo heuchera Colbourns

A venetian trellis was installed to screen off an unsightly wall, and behind it we put a pump in a large bucket to create the sound of running water, without needing a complex water feature to maintain. Climbers such as Trachelospermum and Parthenocissus were trained onto the panels, and a doorway cut into it to allow access to the taps, from where an irrigation system ran into every bed.

The finishing touches were uplighters in chrome to show off the structure of the bamboo at night, and reflective acrylic stuck onto the back wall, which doubled the depth of the space and increased light levels.

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