I love the satisfying circle of prolific self seeders, partnered with a combination of other perennial plants and bulbs, my idea of a perfect garden is complete, wild, natural and self perpetuating. For plants that need a helping hand I like nothing better than to collect their seed heads in autumn, plant them in some good compost in pots and reap the joy of their rewards the following year. Potting up and prettily presenting your excess plants grown from seeds will help spread the joy amongst others that you know. If you are a beginner, try sweet pea, nothing could be more easily grown and beautifully rewarding when in bloom The plants will provide you with cut flowers for the home throughout summer, the more you cut the more they bloom. Plant the seeds in autumn in some good compost and when they begin to sprout in spring support them with some bamboo or wicker which they will readily spiral up, cut the flowers for indoor display , this will keep the sweet pea blooming throughout the summer months.
The art of creating a beautiful space……….
The solace of a space, love, nurture and cultivate
As most of the hard work in the garden gets done in autumn, early winter and early spring, by late spring and summer it is time to tools down, sit, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour with a long cool drink with a bit of light pruning on the side. A crucial requirement for this is a place to sit and enjoy the views from every angle. Here are some of the spots in my space that help me do just that.
Patio chairs and table surrounded by a lemon tree, geraniums, jasmine, basil, bay and lavender. For a small terrace or patio all of these can be planted in containers around your dining area to bring a little piece of the mediterranean to your space. The lemon, lavender and jasmine flowers will fill the air with a delicious scent on a summers evening.
The same patio in spring – pop a big bowl of your favourite spring bloomers on the table, muscari and daffodils are in this one, and with the all year round blooming lemon tree as a backdrop it brings a little bit of glamour to your patio – Paris in the Spring anyone? Just step outside.
Cute and convenient – this ceramic stool can be easily moved around and is great extra outdoor seating that doesn’t take up much space. It adds a dash of bright colour on a dull day. I popped this one outside my bedroom door. Perfect for those moments when you just want to be away with the birds!
This bench was hand made from the same wood as the decking, it was concieved, built and hand-painted by the amazingly talented Frex, it is a great sunny spot to sit in spring and shady in summer, it also doubles as a display for spring planted pots and acts as extra outdoor storage.
Simple but effective, this bench was made from a slice of wood cut to order at a timber merchants in the lake district and is supported on circular slices of log, it is simple and rustic and gives that lovely low level of seating so you can really sit “in” your space, simple to assemble.
One of my favourite places to sit, the sunken deck, here you can view the garden on another dimension and really ” get amongst it”, for a summer garden party I usually pop in some cushions to make it extra comfy
The sunken deck lined with artificial grass, we use it like a rug and roll it out on those hot days when all you want to do is lie but the grass it too wet also ideal for a small space where you don’t have a lawn …………
This image was taken before I had my side terrace built. I was gearing up for the planting in the area so I test planted in big pots. I wanted a tropical feel in this slightly shaded area of the garden and it inspired me to see that a tiny space with the right planting could be heaven (tropical heaven) on earth. The chair is surrounded by Elocassia, hardy palms, ferns and bamboo to give that tropical feel. Another good tropical-like plant but tough as old boots is fatsia japonica which features in my wrap round tropical terrace. All can be grown in pots and containers and can really give your terrace or balcony an amazingly tropical evergreen feel.
Spotted in Ireland on a beautiful walk in co. Kilkenny – this one just had to be shared – a garden bench handcrafted from nature
A great idea for a small space, plant up a tree of your choice in a large pot, this one is an olive tree, make a wooden top to for the pot and create a table – a garden, a dining space and a light shade all in one. Perfect for tiniest of patios or balconies
This pretty dining set spotted recently in columbia road market – a great place for all your gardening needs (perfect size for a small terrace or balcony)
Even if you only have the tiniest of outside spaces a balcony, terrace, window ledge or the front entrance to your home, window boxes and containers can open up the world of gardening to you, any space is enough to create the perfect kitchen garden. Plant up hardy herbs together, they will last all year round and will help inspire your winter cooking. Those non hardy herbs that prefer a warm sunny clime, will thrive throughout the summer and lend themselves nicely to the quick and easy oriental style and mediterranean cooking (much needed when life is too short and the days are too long to be spending too much of it inside).
Winter window box for the kitchen (think winter casseroles and slow roasts)
Bay, Rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano
These hardy herbs will last all year round – don’t forget to keep them watered during dry winters!
Spring to Autumn Window box for the kitchen – Semi hardy herbs (feeling like a lighter meal, think potato salad, fatoush, pasta or fish with creamy, herby sauces)
chives, parsley, tarragon, mint
(will die off in a frosty winter if kept outside but will grow back again the following spring)
Summer window box for the kitchen (think mediterranean, marinades, salads and quick and easy chinese and thai inspired stirfries)
lemongrass, basil, dill, corriander, chillies, spring onion and garlic
Enjoy the fruits of your labour
Have a look at this great site selling unique trough containers – They not only look picture pretty but are great for a small outdoor space to grow your all your kitchen requirements
If you have only the tiniest of window ledge, providing it is a sunny spot, why not grow lavender in a window box. When you open your window the summer flowers will make you feel like you are in your own little garden, bringing the outside in. Lavender also has many culinary uses, infuse in your tea, make lavender cupcakes, lavender sugar and lavender vinaigrette. Use the dried flowers to make lavender pot- pourri to use around your home or put in little muslin bags to freshen up your wardrobe or mix with some sea salt and olive oil to make a luxurious foot scrub. Trim the lavender plants back by about a third each year after the flowers have faded and they will bloom for many. Lavender is quite tolerant to dry conditions and loves to be in the sun. You will know it is summer when your lavender is in bloom, touch it, smell it, you will definately love it!
With a little thought about what you plant in your outside space it will not only look beautiful but will yield some very useful and inspirational things prompting the unleashing of the creative you. Lemon trees look great and you can grow them in a pot on your balcony or terrace (they will flourish in a sheltered area or you can take them inside if the winter is very harsh). The tree will give fruit all year round. When the blooms appear before the fruit the air is scented like a heaven send – it doesn’t get much better than this. Lemons get used lots in summer to help olive oil dress your salads or squeeze into a summer cocktail or fruit add to a fruit punch. In winter try making your own lemoncillo the perfect winter schnaps or a lemon loaf to help keep your cockles warm, entertain guests and make your kitchen smell…