15 June 2013

A small and special garden in St Helena Terrace, Richmond

I have visited this small garden in St Helena Terrace, Richmond, (just off the river behind the fabulous White Cross) a few times because it manages to do so much with so little.

Each visit starts with the proud owner taking me to see the equivalent pot next door which is just a concrete driveway leading to a garage.

There is a building at the end of this plot too. It's an artists studios and the results of the work here can be seen in the shop on the other side of the house that fronts on to the path along the river.

The confusion of plants leading to the studio proves that this is a garden that is loved for its own end and is not overly managed for visitors.





The view back from the studio reveals the simple design of the garden. It drops down in the middle where two semi-circles of brick are divided by water.

That water is crossed using the prettiest stepping stone that I have seen, even if it is of a snake and made of metal.

The more worrying animals are the herons who have discovered that the water is home to lots of fish and they will happily ignore the presence of the owners to get to them. As the last visitor of the day I had a long chat to the owners about this while they put out the bamboo poles and netting that keeps them out overnight.

Next to the crossing is a comfortable seat set in twisted red metal with roses growing above. This is the heart of the garden and where the owners sit to enjoy the garden. A trickle of water on the wall opposite provides movement and gentle sounds.

By the steps that head back up towards the entrance there is another place to sit. This one is shaded by walls and a tree circle by brick.

The absence of sun means an absence of colour and the owners have compensated for this by adding decorative pots and other garden ornaments, such as a watering can.

The garden stuffs so much in to a small space, and there is always the reminder of next door to confirm how small the space is, that the size becomes irrelevant and the image is of calm and a richness of plants.

I was lucky enough (because I was late enough) to spend quite a bit of time talking to the owners, I got what amounted to a private tour, and even slowed down by a glass of wine, I was probably there for only a quarter of an hour. But that was such a pleasant quarter of an hour that the compressed time, like the compressed garden, was just a feature of the garden rather than a fault.

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