‘Arabesque’, Benest


The garden is a 2m x 7m south west/west facing walled courtyard owned by a well-travelled couple who want their space to reflect their travels. The couple have a particular affinity for the islamic gardens of Morocco and India. The courtyard shares the high backwall of their house, which the couple feel ‘looms’ over them. The property is situated a stone’s throw from an ancient Priory and so great care and sensitivity must be given towards material choices and colours. Although the property is now connected to mains drainage, an old dissused fosse septique tank and the foundations of an old outbuilding exist beneath the old deck. The clients wanted a space with the ‘wow’ factor in which they can relax, dine and entertain up to 6 adults. A water feature and lighting were desired. All in all, a lot to eek from a 14m2 space.


Less is more, even more so in a small space. A simplified space and planting with an Islamic garden influence will add that ‘designed’ look the clients want for the space, as well as make better use of what little space there is.

The garden isn’t sufficiently large that it can be divided into four quadrants, but nonetheless the design subtly breaks the garden into four divisions: The universe’s four elements as represented in Islamic gardens, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, are all present in the material, colour and planting choices.

The tiling of the ‘landing’ area where the back door leads into the space has been removed and replaced with an ocean-green exterior tile in a herringbone pattern. Corten steel was specified for use in the garden deliberately to match the colourations of the local terracotta roofs and also give that earthy, baked soil aesthetic.

The deck has been reduced in size to accomodate a more generous depth of planting, and improved by use of a composite material that has the appearance of wood, with hidden fixings to keep a clean and uncluttered look to the space. Wider units of decking simplify the area visually, while the decking’s anti-rot and anti-slip properties reduce maintenance and improve safety.

The existing boundary stone wall has been improved and repointed and its top levelled, onto which corten steel containers are bolted and planted predominantly with herbs for their scent and health qualities. Corten planters inserted into position at both ends of the garden interior give generous planting space.

The dominant house wall has been dressed with four arabesque patterned wall panels to break up the monolith and the existing grape vine has been raised higher up the wall and tied to a proper trellis to further reduce the oppressive sensation caused by it.

Various uplights, spot lights and Moroccan-style candle-lit lanterns have been used to dramatically illuminate the space at night.

This project was constructed and planted between April and June 2023. Progress has been shared via my Instagram account.