Most new houses now come with very small gardens and ours is no exception. It was the compromise we made to have a house we wanted in the right location but it is still something I struggle with even 6 years on. When I sit and watch gardening programmes I dream of having the space to be able to recreate some of their looks, to be able to have a pond or water feature and the land to have a separate play area away from all my plants. One day, when I win the lottery eh! So, for now, I have had to learn how to make the most of our small garden all whilst keeping it functional for all of us as a family.
I’ve been watching the Chelsea Flower Show this week and each year I adore the way they can take a blank canvas and think up a concept that is completely outside of the box. Last night they were showing the highlights from the show and the small gardens came up due to the fact that so many homes do have such a small plot for their outdoor space. The ideas were wonderful and if you didn’t have children a garden full of water, or one full of unusual plants and varied levels would be great but when a garden needs to serve a purpose for everybody you simply cannot just go ahead with a grand plan such as these. I did love the idea of using water and I have always wondered about trying it out in our garden but in reality, with a small child it would either be constantly played with or be a constant worry as a potential hazard. I admit I could be a little more daring with our space but whilst we have a young family I will have to keep my bigger ideas on the backburner for now. Plus, I think it is important to get kids into gardening too and for them to have their own area to enjoy.
This was our garden when we moved in:
(I apologise for the poor quality but it’s the only image I have before we touched it at all and it’s from the Estate Agent info)
The lawn was dry and dying, the planting took up a large amount of space at the end of the garden and the ground was hard, full of stones and other bits of rubble left over from the build.
We re-turfed parts of the lawn which had no chance of surviving as well as the large bed that was at the end. I began buying and planting flowers not realising that most of them were seasonal which ended up being a costly choice for the first couple of years. The overpowering red brick wall was something that I knew would need to be covered in some way to try and bring more green into a built up area.
The patio area was ok, a bit bland and the standard slabs that were used in all the gardens. We lived with it all for a few years but once I had the idea of the look I wanted it was finally out with the old and in with the new…
My vision was to mix a bit of English countryside with the Meditarranean by using bright pinks and purples as well as traditional plants we see here. I picked these country cottage feel slabs and dressed the patio with pots filled with mostly perennial plants that will return year after year. These include an Acer, French Lavender, Aremeria maritima commonly known as sea pink, Heavenly Blue and Agapanthus Blue. There are so many alpines, perennials and rockery plants that can do well in pots, it is just the case of finding out which will take to the conditions in your garden. I also love lizard shaped decorations and have several from Lanzarote, Greece and England hanging on the wall of the house.
I have covered the wall next to the gate with a trellis and a Honeysuckle plant. The other trellis has a Clematis growing up it which will also return each year as long as it is cared for appropriately and the frost doesn’t get to the roots. The window boxes were built by my husband and made out of decking wood, lined with ordinary garden liner with drainage holes drilled in the bottom.
The larger window box spends most of the time in the shade so we picked a couple of varieties of Thyme along with some alpine plants. Unfortunately, the thyme in the far corner didn’t do well in full shade so we have replaced it this year with an alpine plant which can stand more shade and cooler temperatures.
The stones were purchased from a garden centre and line the areas around the patio. It adds an extra seaside effect which I really like and we also did this in our front garden transformation too.
It has taken a few years for some of the plants to really take but now they have I have finally solved my brick wall issue:
The back wall is covered in wire which allows the Passion Flower to spread and take form across it. In the summer this comes out in stunning purple flowers.
With a little bit of research you can find the perfect plants for your small garden to bring it to life which can be enjoyed by everybody. We have enough grass area for Jake to play and kick a ball around, we have a gorgeous patio where we can have barbecues and sit and look at the garden and then I have just about enough flowers beds to keep my hobby ticking over.
Whatever your vision is I think a small garden can achieve it with a little planning, patience and time.