Friday, 28 August 2009

a tale of a Brighton terrace...

We all have spots in our gardens, balconies, plots and pots that can be a real pain. What you want to grow won’t grow there, what you want to sod off stays around happily. Too dark, too light, too dry, too wet – you know the spots I mean.

And so, we were full of intrigue that we went to look at the rear terraced area to Jamie’s Italian in Brighton a week or so ago.

As a Brightonian, it is always fascinating to see how the buildings I know and love so well sit beside, amongst and within each other from a different viewpoint to that you see from the street.

This building was no exception. The new building that Jamie’s Italian occupies in Brighton is nestled between some wonderful old buildings. The front view is cramped, yet the rear opens out into a huge internal light well between the new and the existing spaces.

It is a real shame, however, that the terraced area is tucked right in alongside the new and the existing, thus offering a nice enclosed albeit shady spot for alfresco dining. An overhead covering of trellis and reclaimed oak timbers provides even greater shade and makes for a tricky little area.

The whole ethos of the restaurant is on fresh and tasty, local and authentic food, but given the orientation of the terrace (no sun till about 3 and none in winter) the obvious herbs wouldn’t have fared too well.

There was also the problem of maintenance and ongoing care – nothing too needy could be used lest it put a real burden on the staff.

So – easy to care for, can cope with semi shade or a bit of sun (in areas), and will provide year long interest with minimal ongoing costs. Solution?

We were not going to go the same route as a few other restaurants around the area and put in PLASTIC plants (shame on you – you know who you are), so what did we come up with?

Well – our final planting list comprised…
An assortment of Bergenias – evergreen, will grow like the clappers and can cope with a bit of sun or shade.
An assortment of ferns – British of course – for the really stubbornly shady bits.
An assortment of honeysuckles – both evergreen and deciduous, to provide shade when required in summer, but to open up the light in winter, nice smells and lovely flowers.
And for the structure – no plastic, but a few clipped box spheres.

When we had finished, the terrace was awash with lushness, that hopefully (with a little care) will flourish into a right proper jungle over the next year.

I will keep you posted on the progress – just another excuse to nip out for a sneaky meal…

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