A walled kitchen garden to a new Passivhaus in York.

We received an email on Boxing Day in panic from our client as she had just found out that her garden designer had left the country for good to work abroad. The house build was recently finished, and the landscape contractor would be starting the garden implementation in the new year. She only had an initial garden design sketch, not a full working drawing for the contactor to build from and needed help with detailing.

Our client was passionate about sustainability (hence the new build Passivhaus which is a German term referring to an ultra-low energy building) and wanted the garden to reflect these principles. The new garden was enclosed by a brick wall which created a warm and sheltered space for sitting and growing plants. She wanted a simple layout of timber raised beds for growing areas and informal gravel paths between. She didn’t want the usual ornamental garden plants, but a predominantly productive kitchen garden including fruit trees and bushes, herbs and beds to grow tomatoes and beans.

Helen developed the initial concept into a detailed design plan and liaised with the contractor during the site stage.  She developed a detailed planting plan with our client and they visited a local trade nursery together to make the final selection of plants and carried out the planting.

Hardwood sleepers were used for the raised beds, local pea gravel for the paths, York Hand Made bricks for the small patio (used as the building material in the house). The garden was planted with various small trees, some espaliered – including a Cob Nut, Damson, Greengage and Crab Apple.

"The journey from my first contact with Helen to seeing the plot transformed into a garden that is so much more interesting than I ever imagined, has been hugely enjoyable". (Jenny Brierley)

BEFORE: The front garden ready for landscaping. The builder had installed the timber pergola and main path.

BEFORE: The front garden ready for landscaping. The builder had installed the timber pergola and main path.


Main outside dining and BBQ area.

Herb bed in the second summer.

Mini olive trees and lavenders behind the group bench.

Newly planted herb bed against the warm house wall.

Painted clapboard cladding.

Newly planted pergola and approach to the front door.

The artificial lawn and play space accessed directly from the new family kitchen/ bi-fold doors.

The garden in late summer. The raised beds were planted with long flowering perennials – Anthemis sauce Hollandaise and Erigeron karvinskianus.

Fruit trees were an important element in the garden landscape design

Malus Golden Hornet tree and scented jasmine – Trachelospermum jasminoides on the warm south facing wall.

Potted olive tree specimen. Pot made by a local joiner.

Bin store and corner Cycle Store with sedum roof.                                                                                             

Fruit trees and bushes were as important as flowering shrubs and perennials in the planting layout

Blueberries in clay pots.