Small spaces in SW7

South Kensington, SW7: east and west facing, small roof terraces, lots of sky.

The brief was to put some finishing touches to a newly completed, central London mews conversion, intended as a rental property.

We had a long narrow terrace along the front of the roof and a tiny secluded space at the back. Easy-care plants were chosen to fill awkward spaces and to withstand the neglect likely to befall them as tenants come and go.

Using shiny black planters to complement the architecture, a simple palette of greens and dark red combines airy Stipa tenuissima and Cosmos atrosanguineus (chocolate Cosmos) to bring lots of movement to the 3rd-floor roof terrace, along with sturdy pompoms of Sempervivum which will flower freely in the summer.

A large black-stemmed Phyllostachys nigra offers some drama and height to the back terrace, without taking up much space.