See how London is growing

June 6, 2008

An innovative Islington garden is one of many open to the public this weekend

A great pleasure of London’s Open Garden Squares Weekend, which takes place this coming weekend and includes 176 gardens, is the opportunity to nose around properties, many of which are usually only glimpsed through railings and locked gates. These range from the grand garden squares of Kensington and Chelsea to community plots, schools and hospice gardens.

Some, however, are even more private. One such property is Conisbee Courtyard in Islington, north London, an innovative combination of six residential flats and office space (which belongs to a structural engineering firm) set around three floors of exuberant planting. Although the courtyard and balconies are accessible only to Conisbee employees and guests, the flats’ occupants get the benefit of a view of lush greenery without the chore of having to look after it themselves. That is the job of Marie Clarke, a landscape designer who works with Conisbee on projects and who oversaw the space.

At ground level is a cool courtyard filled with leafy plants that include 100-year-old tree ferns in large galvanised-steel containers. There is also a rectangular pool, carefully positioned to allow room for party gatherings around it, and planted with flag irises and marsh marigolds, through which goldfish swim.

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