Black Limestone Paving

By The Landscape Yard in Limestone Paving Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The term al fresco is borrowed from the Latin for 'in the cool air'. Today we use it to describe dining outdoors. Enjoying meals outdoors is one of the perks of the Great British summer whether it’s a lunchtime snack or an evening meal - what could be better than enjoying your favourite food outdoors on the patio. Nothing says summer more than throwing a dinner party in the garden, even the most rustic food can look chic under twinkling lights and candles. However the unpredictable British weather can add to the anxiety of organising such an event, but holding a garden party does not need to be a burden and there are some simple steps to successful al fresco dining.

Firstly, your patio needs to be large enough. Were possible a minimum patio size for al fresco dining would be approx 20 sqm, but the larger the patio area the better as this provides plenty of room for tables, chairs, loungers, and a BBQ with space to move around. The perfect choice of paving for a dining and entertaining patio would be black limestone paving. This dark coloured natural paving stone shows off garden furniture sets really well and has a modern, contemporary feel. It sounds simple, but you need a large enough outdoor dining table and chairs to accommodate your guests. You can cheat a bit here and use a number of smaller tables covered with a table cloth. Ideally the patio needs to be located adjacent to the kitchen or the patio doors, to make it easier to serve up hot food from the kitchen. Bi-folding doors that link your home to your garden are a great investment if you like eating outdoors in the summer. Just add some lanterns and tea lights, a vase of cut flowers from your garden, open the wine and you are ready for your guest to arrive!

A black limestone patio is the foil to set off the clean lines of modern rattan wicker garden furniture and contrasts really well against wooden patio sets, especially oak and teak gardens benches. Incorporating your patio into your garden with the right landscaping and planting is an important consideration for many people - so when designing your black limestone terrace into your garden, always consider the size and position of any new planting borders that you want to include. As a guide, a 900mm wide border would be ideal for growing herbaceous plants, ferns and grasses whilst a wider 1200mm border would be suitable for growing larger, evergreen shrubs. Positioning a border against the house will soften the junction between the house and the paving and this is especially important if planning a large terrace. Consider planting zingy architectural plants around the patio to provide a contrast with black limestone, such plants like Choisya ternata Sundance and Spirea bridal wreath would work well with the architectural fronds of tree ferns or shrubs like Fatsia Japonica which can be underplanted with white flowering Agapanthus and ferns like Polystichum setiferum. Planting around a patio area will provide a sense of human scale and enclosure, plants bring movement to otherwise very static landscape materials, fronds will sway and flowers will nod in the breeze, whilst birds and butterflies will flit between the plants. For ideas to spark your imagination using the architectural planting style visit Christopher Lloyds garden at Great Dixter, Northiam near Rye in East Sussex, or visit the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden at Barnoon Hill, St Ives in Cornwall. Just opened is the new “Architectural Plants” nursery near Pulborough in West Sussex where you can buy plants and also see gardens planted using architectural plants. Highly recommended is a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, near St Austell in Cornwall where naturalised tree ferns and other exotic architectural planting can be seen in abundance.