4 September


A Secret Garden Overlooking the Bosphorus

The news that we would be commissioned to realize the landscape design of the İlhan Ekşioğlu residency in Kandilli, came as a delight to the whole team. Especially the Fenerbahçe supporters among us. A man known for his great respect for intellect and ideas, İlhan Ekşioğlu gave us a lot of freedom in the design process. In the beginning, of course, he and my dear interior decorator colleague Hakan Helvacıoğlu gave us clear directions on their vision of the project. After that, it was quite a liberating process for our creative forces, with an end result gratifying for all parties. In April, beloved Besray Köker from ‘Ev Bahçe’ magazine, of which I am a dedicated follower and where I frequently publish, stated their interest to publish an article about the garden. And I was delighted to accept. Below you can read the story of the garden by Besray Köker and see the photos by Cengiz Yanık. The full article is available in the June 2015 issue of Ev Bahçe magazine.


“The first thing that strikes you when you enter the garden is how green it is. The reason is the deliberate choice by the owners of green plants in all sections of the garden. The house itself rests on about 800 square meters of space within a land of 3 decares composed of 6 terraces. Apart from the house, there are other indoors spaces with different uses. Yet all these are so gracefully concealed by plants that the only constructions you actually notice other than the house are the garden and the pool. There are two cisterns, one within the house and the other leveled with the pool. These apparently played an important role in the creation of the landscape design.”


“The Landscape Designer Nilüfer Şentürk recalls the beginning of the project: ‘The previous pool had a round, modern form. The house and the pool stood on the same level unlike in our design. The land was actually graded towards the pool. Yet the residence itself has a historical sense to it, both from within and without. This led to a confusion of styles and our response was to conceptually change the pool’s form.’ By way of terracing and changing the ground level, she created a more sheltered and independent space within the garden.”

“She speaks of the main entrance as the biggest challenge in the design process: ‘Unfortunately, there was a parking garage entrance opposite the main entrance. As a landscape designer, I wanted to create an elegant entrance to this magnificent garden but given that the project had already been set like this, I looked for other ways to create a sense of elegance and greenness. That is where the story of our project actually begins. To be able to break the hard feeling of the concrete walls, we designed a flowerbed to hide off the parking garage entrance. This way we created a new surface of yellow Eupros and blue vinka plants on top of what I thought would be the weakest link in the design. This had the double advantage of accentuating İlhan Ekşioğlu’s love for Fenerbahçe.’”


“The pool and all the stone objects were supplied from the English Haddonstone company, of which Lotus Landscape Planning Company is the representative of Turkey. The lighting equipment supports the classical feeling of the house and was supplied from France. The fact that the upper garden is composed of little patios of different levels is due to the existence of the vaulted cistern. All trees were brought in from abroad apart from a fraxinus, a century old magnolia and two palm trees. Floor covers, bushes and most of the flowers were supplied from Turkey.”


“The paths and floor tiles of the garden are as striking as the green of it. Basaltic stones and pebbles were applied in Podima stlye craftsmanship. The lower garden has the sense of a French garden with rammed earth paths. Basaltic stones were also used in the garage floor. This entry point to the garden is situated in the axis leading to the main entrance. The landscape designer achieved a sense of elegance through an arc with vine roses on it. We see tiles on concrete surfaces in different designs and arrangements in all parts of the garden: the pond, under the century-old magnolia or around the sundial…”


“There are a few ways to step down from the pool garden to the main garden. The stairs around the pool lead you to the barbecue section. The round barbecue section across the kitchen is decorated with kitchen herbs such as mint and rosemary. The differences in levels create various independent spaces that are used as car park, spa, jazz bar, kitchenette, pool lounge, dressing room, gardener’s hut and storage depot etc.”


“The barbecue sections leads to the main garden. There are a few seating areas within the garden overlooking a magnificent view: the veranda, around the century-old magnolia, above the cistern, the hanging balcony overlooking the pool and the big dining area. The choice of plants is far from modern. For one thing, the classical Ottoman plant of buxus (şimşir) is the dominant bush in the garden. Landscape designer Nilüfer Şentürk chose to preserve some of the previous plants and spaces like the parapet stones in the Orient section, which were not changed but repaired. The original Malta stones in some sections were reused. The symmetric palm trees across the garden were kept. The old marble stairs were reused in the secret garden path. The redbud, peony, wistaria and lilac plants were preserved and blended into the design. The hanging balcony gives us the best view of the main garden to a point where you might actually choose to view the garden at the expense of the Bosphorus. Nilüfer Şentürk says: ‘The balcony makes the garden feel larger and more elegant, which actually brings about the real importance of the garden within the residence.”

“This garden hugging the Bosporus is a delightful sight in all four seasons thanks to the owner’s great respect for nature and history as well as landscape designer Nilüfer Şentürk’s delicate work.”


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