Small is Beautiful

img_20150619_105312I do like a small garden- there’s nothing like it for concentrating the mind and paring things down to what really matters. In this case it was privacy. Or rather the lack of it , as this was the view from the kitchen window- talk about being like a goldfish in a goldfish bowl: slide39 And the view down to the end of the garden wasn’t much better- depressing eh?slide38

And just to make things more interesting, the budget was quite small so we had to keep the rather jaundiced coloured paving and the mish mash of fencing . But I love challenges like this as I genuinely believe that you can transform any space with a few principles and a lot of plants! Here’s the ‘after’:img_20150619_105252

So, how did we do it? First, to get the privacy required we added closeweave trellis to the top of the existing fence, and then painted all those mis-matched fence panels  a nice dark green (concrete posts as well, don’t forget!). This unified them and really smartened them up. I should have been in the navy as I’m forever using paint to refresh tired old structures!To add to the privacy we built a raised bed along the boundary out of reclaimed bricks and planted evergreen bamboos, Phyllostachys spectabilis aurea :slide69Privacy achieved and the gardenwas now feeling  cosy  and pleasurable to sit in. We then bought an inexpensive seat and painted it to make it look  more inviting ( and be more eyecatching). We then cut out planting beds by lifting some of the paving slabs, and added height by building a few raised beds out of reclaimed bricks. I always try to introduce differences in levels in a garden, whether with steps or raised beds, as it’s such a great way of adding interest.slide75

To draw the eye to the end of this small garden and to lure the owner outdoors, we purchased an inexpensive arbour and customised it with ice cream coloured paints from the Cuprinol range ( remember, you should keep all painted eyecatcher items like seats and arbours in the same colour in order to ensure harmony):slide70

And then it’s really down to planting, adding a cottage garden mixture of trees, shrubs, roses and perennials for year round interest. Here’s another ‘before and after’ view back towards the house, just as we’ve finished planting it, so it’s still looking very new:1458slide74

And this is the garden a few months later-same view:


Now, the view from the kitchen window, even in winter ( thanks to the evergreens) is private and secluded- a real little sanctuary in the city I think you’ll agree?:


So if you have a tiny overlooked garden , just throw away those irritating gardening books written for those lucky people with huge gardens- you know the sort, the ones that say “Borrow the view”, or “Consult the spirit of the place”. “What view? What spirit?” I shout at them! Instead, concentrate on creating privacy and sanctuary with paint and plants. Small really can be beautiful you know.



  1. Anne you really can make what seems the impossible dream possible. When is the best time to start a garden like this. Love this blog. Happy Christmas to you and all your gardening friends.x


    1. I think the best time to start making a garden is in early spring- then you have a full growing season ahead of you where things just keep on looking bigger and better with every month. Good luck and Happy Christmas!


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