De Savornin Lohman
The small, walled garden (6 by 7,9 m.) of Alexander de Savornin Lohman at the Schoolstraat in Utrecht is completely surrounded by houses and can only be reached by way of a small staircase from the first floor. From the basement (1,65 m. below ground level) the garden is invisible: the view is blocked by a blind wall. The assignment was threefold:
1 Make the garden visible (and accessible) from the basement.
2 Create as much room as possible to sit in the sun, that shines over the rim of the surrounding houses in summer (clockwise from down right (in the morning) to up left (end of the afternoon).
3 Create as much room as possible for planting.
The solution was found as follows: The blind wall has been replaced by a staircase as wide as the basement. Only a small part of it is fit to walk on, the largest part has been planted with shade-loving plants (Hearts Tongue Ferns!). The ground level has been lowered by 45 cms. for the garden to become visible from the basement. By additional terracing of the plantbeds in the garden (till 90 cms. above the former ground level) the visibility from the basement has been increased and space is suggested that does not really exist. The enormous difference in height (2,55 m. in a garden of merely 47 square metres) strengthens the feeling of a gorge, which already existed caused by the surrounding houses. The difference in height is further emphasised by three pillars for climbers. They replace trees, that would have caused too much shade.
Underneath the first terrace, that is linked to the first floor, storage capacity could be created that can be reached through a narrow door in the basement.
By way of curved stairs a second terrace can be reached, that is situated 45 cms. below the former ground level. The third terrace is situated at the former ground level and is connected with the second terrace by a few steps. All terraces have a mosaic floor of old bricks.
The wall around the garden is interrupted at the left side by a fence of reinforcing bars (meant for climbers) in order to meet the objections of the neighbours, who felt enclosed behind the wall.
First drawing
Definite drawing

The newly created situation: loosely build retaining walls, using mortar containing more chalk than usual, steps, pavement and intimate corners everywhere strengthens the "gorge"environment that was already present. An ideal habitat for exquisite shade-loving plants.


X1 I Vitis vinifera  X2 1 Clematis tibetana ssp. vernayi 'Orange Peel'
X3 1 Roos 'New Dawn'  X4 2 Hydrangea petiolaris  X5 1 Clematis viticella
X6 1 Clematis viticella 'Grandiflora'  X7 1 Lonicera caprifolium  X8 1 Fargesia nitida


1  4 Thalictrum minus 'Adiantifolium'
2  2 Anemone 'Honorine Jobert'
3  2 Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii 'Lambrook Gold'  
4 5 Astrantia major 'Ruby Wedding'  
5  1 Acanthus spinosus  
6  4 Phyllitis scolopendrium  
7  7 Adiantum pedatum  
8  1 Helleborus argutifolius  
9  4 Melica nutans  
10 3 Eryngium bourgatii  
11 4 Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta  
12 2 Centranthus ruber  
13 3 Verbascum blattaria 'Album'  
14 1 Eupatorium maculatum 'Purple Bush'  
15 2 Persicaria amplexicaule 'Firetail'  
16 4 Alchemilla epipsila  
17 3 Corydalis elata
18 5 Campanula poscharskyana  19 2 Aster 'Twilight'  20 3 Aruncus dioicus 'Kneiffii'  21 5 Polystichum setiferum  22 9 Milium effusum 'Aureum'  23 7 Asperula taurica  24 3 Cimicifuga simplex  25 1 Epimedium davidii  26 3 Kirengeshoma palmata  27 6 Polygonatum multiflorum  28 1 Athyrium filix-femina  29 4 Lamium orvala  30 5 Actaea pachypoda  31 5 Lunaria rediviva  32 1 Hosta 'Sum and Substance'  33 3 Pulmonaria longifolia 'Bertram Anderson'  34 5 Gillenia trifoliata 35 3 Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilac Seedling'  36 1 Telekia speciosa  37 2 Euphorbia x martinii  38 1 Veratrum nigrum  39 3 Helleborus orientalis  40 5 Asarum canadense  41 2 Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldschleier'
In cooperation with the blacksmith, Kees van der Horst from Utrecht pillars, fences around the first terrace and the curved stairs and lamps have been designed. A few sketches:
Click to enlarge. Mentha requienii and Centranthus-seedlings between pavement.
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