Swan Yard

In 2013 J&L Gibbons moved across the borough into a former garage in Swan Yard. Roller shutters were replaced with an articulated larch shopfront and a twin studio space created, split by a timber panelled core, with a place to hang bikes and a mini arboretum as a backdrop.

Downpipes are disconnected according to best practice SuDS (sustainable urban drainage), one feeding into a 160L water butt with a solar pump to provide drip irrigation, the other outflowing directly into a Plantlock steel container in the yard planted as a micro rain garden that provides valuable green infrastructure on the street. The arboretum is grown in cattle troughs, planted with exotics. Barely a meter wide, foliage catches the midday sun and provides a sense of nature, balance and harmony.

Image 10: Gin is the studio dog. He is a working cocker spaniel from Cornwall. He joined the studio as a pup in January 2019 and has developed his skills in filing from the bin and redistributing the studio’s stone samples. Gin underpins the wellbeing of the studio… so does the dog!


The backyard mini arboretum is a collection of plants of Far Eastern origin that thrive thanks to the London microclimate:

Cyrtomium falcatum Japanese holly fern
Trochodendron aralioides – native to Japan, Korea & Taiwan
Nandina domestica heavenly bamboo – native to Japan & Himalayas
Acer griseum – native to central China
Koelreuteria paniculata – native to China and Korea
Cercidiphyllum japonicum Katsura tree – native to Japan & China
Styphnolobium japonicum Japanese pagoda tree
Tecona Capensis Cape honeysuckle – native to South Africa
Lonicera sempervirens Dropmore Scarlet honeysuckle
Carex pendula pendulous sedge – native to the UK
Aronia melanocarpa black chokeberry – native to eastern North America
Rhamnus cathartica Buckthorn – native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia, from the central British Isles south to Morocco and east to Kyrgyzstan

Front yard rain garden:

Betula pendula – self-seeded
Nandina domestica 
Lonicera henryii
Luzula sylvatica
Meuhlenbeckia complexa
Quercus spp 
Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris


Location Highbury & Islington, London
Date 2013
Area 78m2
Trees planted 5 & one self-seeded


Landscape Architect J&L Gibbons
Architect Studio 54 Architecture
Fit out J&L Gibbons
Contractors Fullers
Photography © J&L Gibbons