A room with a view

Stop and smell the roses, says Annie Deakin who digs up the latest dirt on gardens for interior design.

What I love most about my basement flat is lying on my bed gazing out of my French windows onto the magnolia tree, passion flower and climbing roses planted by my predecessors. It’s a superior view to any painting, wallpaper or furniture at home. Even from indoors, the exterior overwhelms the interior design.

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco.



Bricks and mortar do not a home make. What lies beyond the four walls is equally (and often more) key to the interior. I caught up with landscape gardener Nicola Lesbirel, who cultivated the rooftop of Sir Terence Conran’s latest project, The Boundary in Shoreditch.



“More and more people are making one of their walls glass,” Lesbirel told me over the phone while taking shelter from the rain – even diehard gardeners take time out. “Almost every single small West London garden that I’ve designed in the past ten years is because someone has done an extension. Instead of installing a back door, the whole back wall is made of glass doors that open onto the garden.” Cutting-edge home owners, like my sister George, now crave a linear room (rather than rectangular) that runs into the outside space keeping the same type of flooring. “It’s aspirational and popular at the moment,” explains Lesbirel, a gold award-winning gardener at Chelsea Flower Show. “But even if you find a material that you can use in both kitchen and garden, it will appear different over time and be affected by the weather.”



Like the attention-seeking feature wall, the view through glass doors is the focus of the room. The grass is (literally) always greener through a window pane making the garden integral to the interior. Architects talk about framing the view. “When planning your interior, you want the picture outside to look attractive.” Guerilla gardener Richard Reynolds told me yesterday, “It’s as important as the paintings on your wall. A friend moved into a flat in Forest Hill where the garden was very clever in terms of interior. They’d put fiery red dogwood shrubs right outside the window; they let in plenty of light but are bright blocks of colour.”



Like knitting, planting and pruning are wallet-friendly antidotes to credit crunch stress. Trend forecasters like Joe Swift, regular on BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World, predict that 2009 will be the year of biodiversity in city gardens with a more relaxed and informal planting style. The key message is that gardening shouldn’t be hectic. “Without getting too ‘open-toed sandals’ and spiritual, there is something about that contact with nature.” Says Lesbirel. “It’s fairly instinctive in the same way that having animals around helps you unconsciously feel the benefits.”



Since the market crashed and our household budgets with it, some of my most unlikely London friends are mucking in to create vegetable patches. Extortionate bags of pre-washed salad prompted George to sow her first seeds - my namesake ‘Annabel’ French beans from Gardening Direct. A utilitarian vegetable patch is attractive to look upon in a different way to a flower bed – it’s an earthy and reassuring view. Growing your own rarely saves money in reality. “Growing vegetables and salad in this difficult time gives people back a little sense of being in control of their lives and their finances. Usually with London gardens, most people would like a patch, even if it’s just a small area for herbs. Everyone likes the idea of being able to graze,” knows Lesbirel from city clients. Perhaps it’s a sign of immaturity but I’m more liable to laze in my funky Penguin deck chairs (bought at mydeco.com) than rake the soil for spuds.



I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about the ‘instant gardens’ of TV makeover shows by the Charlie Dimmocks of the garden centre. All that decking without digging gives gardening a bad name. The impatient home-makers buy shrubs in bulk at bank holiday weekends. Theirs is a whirlwind romance with gardening. Quick fixes like a new rug or wallpaper work better indoors than their garden counterparts - artificial grass, mirrors and low-maintenance conifers. “Too many people think of the garden as simply another room in the house. Plants are not silent furniture in a room” complains Reynolds. Unlike new furniture, a garden won’t bestow instant gratification. “It’s the process of tending a garden that makes it quite different to painting the walls or hoovering a carpet. I think of it as having a pet, another member of the family.”



Reynolds was right when he told me that the magnolia tree outside my bedroom window was something of a status symbol. In the words of the English poet Alexander Pope, “All gardening is landscape painting.” Nothing beats a room with a view.

Annie Deakin is acting editor of mydeco.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain