Elaine Goodwin has created a Mediterranean-style garden in the heart of a city with a mix of fragrant flowers, sun traps and her own mosaic artworks.
The owner: Elaine Goodwin, a mosaic artist
When I moved into my flat, the small garden was like a builder’s dump as the house had been recently renovated. It was full of rubble and there were no plants or features apart from an old fence, so I could do what I liked with it,’ says Elaine.
‘As a mosaic artist, I’ve always been inspired by other countries and cultures, so I decided to create a Mediterranean-style walled courtyard garden,’ she adds. ‘As it was such a compact space, I had to draw up a detailed plan.’
Elaine is used to working with a blank canvas, so she sat down with a piece of paper and a pencil and mapped out the design in the same way she would create one of her artworks, working instinctively without taking measurements. Her plan began with a central raised bed containing a decorative pear tree. She continued the Mediterranean theme by adding high brick walls with raised beds attached to them and incorporating a patio area.
‘I use one of my two bedrooms as a studio, so I wanted a sizeable summerhouse too as it would be ideal for entertaining friends and family and would be perfect as a self-contained guest room,’ she says.
Local tradespeople did the heavy-duty work such as clearing the rubble, levelling the space and building the walls with imperial-sized bricks to complement the property’s Georgian architecture.
Once the walls were in place, they completed the raised beds and built a patio edged with brick, then concreted over the remaining ground. This was then covered with a thick layer of light grey Moorland slate scree, rather than turf, as Elaine didn’t want a lawn in her garden.
‘My work involves a great deal of travel abroad, so a low-maintenance garden was a priority,’ she explains.
All the building and structural work was completed within six months, so when spring came round Elaine was ready to start the final phase of her design.
‘I wanted to make the most of my garden, which is sunny and south-facing, so I decided to create a series of secluded corners for different times of the day,’ she says. ‘For example, there’s a sun trap outside my back door in the morning, which I can enjoy while eating breakfast. Mid-morning, when the sun has moved, I sometimes invite a friend round for coffee on the patio. My summerhouse is the perfect place to have lunch – I love it, it‘s the focal point of the garden – then later in the afternoon, I’ll settle into the swing chair on the patio.’
Not all of her friends are sun lovers like Elaine, which is why she commissioned Richard Dent, a blacksmith, designer and sculptor, to build a pergola from galvanised iron to which she has added her own creative touches by inlaying it with tiny pieces of white-gold mosaic to reflect the sun’s rays. She planted climbing jasmine, white wisteria and a white grapevine over the pergola, which will provide shade once they’re established.
‘When I’m entertaining friends in the evening, the garden is lit by candles and all the flowers and shrubs really come into their own,’ says Elaine.
‘I’ve deliberately restricted the colour palette to shades of white and silver. I love the purity of white, and plants with silvery foliage are especially tolerant to dry conditions, so I don’t have to worry too much about keeping them watered, which is handy when I’m abroad,’ she adds.
There are plenty of beautiful shrubs in Elaine’s garden, but she also uses pretty annuals such as white petunias for instant summer bedding. She has also chosen fragrant perennials such as choisya, jasmine, roses and lilies as she believes ‘A garden should be for all the senses. That is why the sound of water cascading from a fountain, however small, is essential.’
Although her planting has been mainly restricted to a white and silver palette, Elaine has introduced colour in the form of her mosaic artworks.
‘Five years ago, I was commissioned to write a book about different mosaic techniques, including the use of new and recycled materials,’ says Elaine. ‘It inspired me to create some mosaic features for my own garden.’
An ancient Roman mosaic in Tunisia was the inspiration for the intricate blackand- white design on the patio. She has also incorporated mosaics into table-tops, furniture and wall panels using materials ranging from highly prized Venetian gold and Ravenna glass to recycled china, glass, stones, pebbles and shells.
‘I get great satisfaction from recycling an ordinary piece of furniture into something vibrant and new,’ smiles Elaine.
‘It’s wonderful to be able to work from home and step outside into this relaxing, inspiring space. My garden is my sanctuary, an evolving art gallery and a small corner of the Mediterranean in the city. I love it.’
|Fixtures and fittings||£17,650|
|Furniture and accessories||£1,022|