A secret London garden filled with magnificent magnolias

When the landscape gardener Sheila Jack was asked to give a light touch to a renovation project in west London, she brought with her a background as a magazine art director and an interest in craftsmanship and architecture. The designed garden is as readable as a page layout, but it is also alive with three-dimensional atmosphere, aided by trees put in over the course of many decades by the previous owners. One of these – a perfectly sheltered magnolia – has been made even prettier in spring by a cherry chorus line of multi-stemmed Prunus x yedoensis, with the canopies of the trees shimmering over woodland planting, anchored by clipped mounds of yew and groups of vivid Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae.

Sheila’s initial design cue came from the proportions of the Queen Anne house, sensitively refurbished by the conservation specialist Giles Quarme Architects. A central ground-floor window demanded less diffident geometry in the garden than the existing narrow path running down one side; this nevertheless offered plenty of Yorkstone paving for reuse. ‘We reorientated everything so that the axis is off the middle window,’ explains Sheila. ‘The view from the house is now very much looking down and through.’