Category Archives: Design ideas for a small space

Winter Woodland Wonderland

Throughout the winter months nature goes on providing us with inspiration of all kinds.  There is nothing more beautiful than a woodland walk to raise the spirits during the short hours of daylight that winter allows us to be outside.  The woodland also provided me with lots of inspiration for Christmas decorations, making the home feel festive.  I always carry a bag to bring back bits found along the way..  Using  my findings to decorate continues to  inspire  on the days that don’t allow physical connection with the woodland as modern day working life pushes us to connect more with the internet!

Stay connected 🙂

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(excuse the arm it was my best angle 🙂 )

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Love you my luver

Valentines day here it is again and for those of you who hate all the cheesey things that sometimes come with the day remember it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep the flag for love flying high and keep romance alive. It doesn’t have to be an endurance meal out in the company of couples forced into looking like they are having a good time.  Make it your own.

Sit outside and enjoy the night sky together even if it is pea soup.

 

set the scene

This cute shelter,  complete with love  seat,  was crafted from the thick branches of the elderflower that was cut back last year. A great place to sit even in the rain.

 

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Just add some champagne on ice and a couple of glasses, squeeze into a love seat under the starry sky and cuddle up for love

 

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some chocolate and love hearts to complete the perfect moment

 

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There is nothing more romantic than making your own present. A hand made card or painting are often appreciated even more than the most expensive gift because it is real and comes from the heart

 

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Love you tweetie pie! (pressed flowers and plant seeds on recycled paper)

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Paint your own

A flock of love hearts (acrylic on canvas)

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True love captured for ever

 

 

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Love is……………………………..

Watching the sun set together

 

 

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Transformation without the perspiration

birdbath and poppies close up

 

 

front garden vision

 

The Vision

When my small front patch was a pile of rubble of mud a few years ago it was hard to believe that it would ever become the space that only existed in my head.  Although I had drawn a rough plan of how it would be I knew that my image of the finished, matured project would take time coming and would evolve on the way. There is still the maturing of the two small bay trees, that I added,  to come but apart from that the wild flowers have certainly settled into the space and have helped create a feeling that the garden has always existed as a space in time. Although I have done my best to photograph the space (it’ a new camera and am still learning about exposure 🙂 ) I always think that spaces are for feeling and there is no better way to view a garden than to walk amongst it – although you can get pleasure from viewing a garden – it’s real true sense only becomes apparent when you get in there!

 

from this

 

works commencing

 to this

 The choice of natural stone fitted in well as it instantly gives a feeling of age – the laurels and the bays take the space back to its Edwardian roots

corner stone

full view

full view

gardenfull view

feel it

get amongst it

 in two easy years

 

The structuring and planting took less than a week and the naturalising of the flowers settled into a feeling of “I’ve lived here a lifetime” in two years.

I love the way the moss has naturally over time created a base for it all and the stepping stones sit happily amongst it all.

mossy magic

 

stepping stone detail

 

 

 

The space is cyclical and seasonal – the laurel backdrop feature wall and moss carpet interspersed with natural stepping stones and planted with bays and evergreen ferns  create all year round interest and greenery

birdbath and poppies

 

Spring gently announces itself with the some pretty yellow  narcissi and purple muscari, swiftly followed by a burst of  forget-me-nots and bluebells, getting it all in the full swing

 

birdbath and bluebells

 

As summer arrives so do the yellow and orange and yellow poppies, dancing in the sunshine

dancing poppies

birdbath and poppies close up

birdbath and poppies

 

birdbath and stepping stones

 The yearly work is done by nature – now that is a true gardeners paradise – all of the beauty and none of the back ache

As the spring fest fades the arrival of  beautiful tall white flowers around the birdbath is anticipated and coupled with an overflowing hanging basket of white trailing Bacopa and geraniums the summer look will be complete

summer white flowers

hanging basket of bacopa and geraniums

Now all that is left is for me to enjoy on a daily basis  being greeted  with a delicious feast for the senses as I  walk in and out of the house every day.   Oh the joys of nature – how could we live without it!

 

 

 

 

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A bird in a bath is worth two in a bush

Now that the weather is warming up the birds are back busily about feeding and bathing,  delighting us all.  We all plant to  encourage wildlife into the garden so why not get creative and add decorative interest whilst you are at it for any creatures that will benefit?  There is nothing more delightful than watching birds have a drink and a wash from various vessels that I have distributed about the garden – it gives a real chance to connect with and  enjoy nature at it’s best.  Encourage  and enjoy wildlife in your outside space any which way you can.  Below are some ideas how to do just that.

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When the birds are not bathing the petals are floating!

 

decorative iron bird bath

 

The birds love to have a drink and and a wash from this small decorative wall hanging vessel.  It is placed close to the back door so I can watch them close up from inside

wall hanging bird bath

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This free standing bird bath makes a great centrepiece or can  add mysterious interest tucked away in a corner.  Mine is placed  underneath a climbing jasmine which likes to collect and prettily float the falling flowers as the summer grooves on.

wrought iron birdbath

 

 

stone bird bath

 

The stone birdbath sits amongst the woodland and ferns providing a shady and quiet spot at the end of the garden for the birds to bathe.

stone bird bath close up

The stone becomes more naturalised over time gathering moss

sri lankan water vessel

This decorative bowl provides another source for the birds to wash and drink

sri lankan bird bath close up

wooden bird house

The rustic hand made bird box filled with seeds provides food and a place for birds to nest

wooden bird house close up

If left undisturbed and placed in a high up sheltered spot  the birds will move in over time

birdhouse in tree

Des Res – who wouldn’t love to live here!

coconut birdfeeder

Cut out a coconut shell and fill it with seeds. This one is hanging in a tree by my bedroom window it is a delightful  to watch the birds feed and the singing is second to none

bugbox

 

Adding a bug box will give the bugs have an undisturbed home and existence amongst all the reorganising and spring cleaning on the patio as well ad adding colour and decorative interest.

 

 

 

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A Place to Ponder

vejer a place to ponder2

One of my many passions in life is to travel the world and explore new places and with holidays being scarce when you work full time I always like to try and venture to new territories for new explorations.  Apart from my home country of Ireland, that has entrenched in me an unbreakable bond,  there is one place that keeps drawing me back for visits over the years.   A trip during the summer just gone confirmed to me that this is the sort of  place I could grow old in.  It is the pristine white hilltop town of Vejer de la frontera, built by the Moors and preserved by the Spanish.  With flowers a plenty blooming in every street, every courtyard and roof terrace,  in bright vibrant colours,  coupled with the beautiful white backdrop of the town,  it is like waking up on a movie set every day.  A great inspiration for urbanisation – fill it with flowers and the heart will blossom.  Here people do not have gardens but they make use of every available space to create a town full of tiny blooming places, people together enhancing the majestic town.  There is a lot to learn from Spain where living in apartment in an urban environment does not have to mean dank and grey. Vejer is a town united, where tiny blooming places gel together to make one of the prettiest places I have ever visited. It is not just contained to this particularly picturesque town in Spain, nearby towns in the Cadiz region like Conil bloom as well as the larger city of  Seville to the north,  where apartment living does not mean a life without a blooming outside space.

If you look behind and above the blooming rose to the forefront (insert smiley face here)   you will see tiny balconies filled with flowers – no place is too small

vejer balconies in bloom

Where there is a balcony there is a pot and even where there is not!

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If you have a verge outside – fill it with pots

vejer blooming street

Never mind deck the halls – deck the streets

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Behind closed doors  – You would never expect it but most open up to little havens of flower filled courtyards

vejer courtyard in bloom

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Plants cascade down from roof terraces to meet up with the potted plants below creating a flowing, fluid flowering facade

vejer cacading roof terrace

Plant it – it will grow.  Tiny terraces planted with big blooming plants

vejer plant it it will grow

With the plants come the wildlife – this little fella was spotted wandering freely around our flower filled patio

vejer iggy and the pot

In nearby Conil this pretty flower fronted bar was beckoning for me to come and sit for a drink

conil blooming bar

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Tiny spot blooming beautifully

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In Seville tiny balconies were packed with flowers – urban doesn’t have to mean concrete only!

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Fill it with Flowers

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Wandering around Seville to see what I can find

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Found it! My city pad

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A beautiful ornate balcony to fill with flowers

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Urbanites be inspired

The Child Within

Read on for some ideas for a fun outside small space.  As our outdoor space in the urban environment gets smaller the need to escape into nature gets bigger.  But as the demands of juggling home, work, family and play become ever increasing, the desire for an enjoyable outside space that is part of our home  becomes  more and more essential for us all.    Many times I have heard people say but the “garden is just not big enough to do anything with”  or “it is just too small for the kids to play” I would argue that you are only limited by your imagination.   Once you let go of what is seen as a ” traditional garden”, (a lawn and borders could be compared to the meat and two veg dish of the gardening world and sometimes needs a bit of spicing up)  and release the child within you could develop your postage stamp yard into a haven where kids will explore their imagination and role play for hours, a place where you can sit and dream your dream and cleanse your mind and thoughts.  If imagination and creation elude you,  no need to move home it will be cheaper to  just get yourself a good garden designer.

To feed kids imagination build a den out of anything you can find around naturally like old tree branches and dried ferns, or for a  designer element buy a more sophisticated pod that can be used as a playhouse, a spaceship to transport them into space or a submarine to explore the ocean world that lies beneath.

How cool is this, kids play den made from old tree branches and dried ferns

Work of Art

Garden pod from archipod. Five, four, three, two, one blast off!

Who knows what genius the next generation will bring us let’s hope it is as good as some of the past

There are times I wish I could blast off to space, travelling in light years not feeling the pace

away away escape escape

I’d be gone gone,   shooting up to the stars, popping in to visit Jupiter and Mars

Seeing, exploring the wonders of it all, that which makes our world seem so very very small

Understanding our importance really is a must, it’s the soul that lives on when the body turns to dust

Diving below into the deep blue sea, it is calm, it is quite, it is really just me

and the beautiful magical world all around, full of new and exciting things to be found

new colour, new life with each turn of the head, makes me wish I lived down here instead

it’s a great place to escape and explore a while, guaranteed to restore a smile

 

Use lots of large plants that will tower over their heads and ones they can wander in and out between, create little pathways they can follow through the foliage from railway sleepers or flat pieces of slate. Place some large rocks underneath the giant leaves , or some log pieces to sit on.  For a more magical feel position some mushroom shaped  wood carved stools where they can sit and explore their imagination.  Add in some scented plants, like jasmine to climb the walls or fences, creating a cosy backdrop, stimulating the senses.  With the right combination the space can be beautiful to look at as well as being fun and child friendly, a place that kids can spend endless hours exploring, make-believing and learning.  Feeding their imagination and senses will help us all avoid a  generation devoid of the artistic and the creative.

mushroom stool by chiselcraft.co.uk

If you are designing with children in mind get down on your hunkers to experience first hand how large things will appear to them.  Use bamboo to create a woodland through which they can meander, wandering underneath the magical giant leaves of the gunnera will transport them into the land of fairies (plant some lupins  along a leading pathway to the gunnera for an extra special touch evoking thoughts of fairyland ), or the giant elephant ears of the alocasia and soft palm shape leaves of the fatsia japonica to send them on a jungle exploration.  Keep the planting simple, using lots of a few types of plants, planted together for impact,  rather than a few of  lots and lots of different types dotted around.  This will help you to create the desired effect of being in a woodland or jungle.

kids can explore and sit amongst the giant gunnera leaves

Giant gunnera in bloom

Alocasia or elephants ears will sprout out in summer adding excitement to the jungle explorations

The evergreen fatsia japonica, easy to maintain, plant in groups to create an instant jungle effect, leave some  space in between plant so kids can wander amongst them

 

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Sitting Pretty

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.

Mediterranean Medley
The Scented Patio, Jamine, Lavender, Lemon blossom

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.

Parisien Parlour
Lemon Tree with Narcissi and Muscari bowl

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.

Under the shade of the tropical looking and shade loving Fatsia Japonica

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.

“Get Amongst It” the sunken deck, adding a new dimension to your space

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 …………

 

Pop in some cushions and get amongst it

 

 

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.

hardy palms, evergreen ferns, fatsia japonica, bamboo and elocassia all contribute to that tropical feel

Spotted in Ireland on a beautiful walk in co. Kilkenny – this one just had to be shared – a garden bench handcrafted from nature

Handcrafted from Nature Simply Stunning

it’s all in the detail  – the bench composition

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)

Also check out Oliver Bonas   http://www.oliverbonas.com/homeware/furniture I recently noticed they were doing some really  cute and colourful patio sets this year – perfect for your tinybloomingplace

Create a little outside space to enjoy, a place to explore your thoughts, inspire you, relax you, a place to sit and contemplate, but don’t just think about it……………

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The Kitchen Planter

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

Grow herbs in a window box whatever size to suit your space

It’s amazing the variety you can pack in, your very own organic mini supermarket

Plant some herbs in a big wooden barrel or terracotta pot on your terrace or pop it at your front door, I usually dry out the abundance of hardy herbs they always come in handy in the store cupboard

Basil likes to stay inside when it is cold outside but will thrive outdoors in your window box during the summer months

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

http://www.harrodhorticultural.com/HarrodSite/pages/product/product.asp?prod=GPL-695

Growing Lavender

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!

Grow Lavender in your window boxes

Infuse your tea

Create your own tea infusions, this one has green tea, camomile, hisbiscus, lavender and lemon

Bake some lavender cupcakes

Make some home made pot pourri – I pulled the lavender flowers from their stalks after they had dried out and mixed with some dried rose buds collected throughout the summer – you can also package these in little bags and tie up with ribbon – they make a pretty gift

Dried lavender also makes a great wardrobe fresher – pack in pretty bags and hang in your wardrobe

Keeps my wardrobe smelling fresh

The smell of lavender will keep months at bay

Here is a great link I found to explore the many more uses of lavender http://frugalgranola.com/2012/02/culinary-uses-for-lavender/

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In The Name Of Progress

TUMBLED STONE AND RAIN SHOWERS

Well after major devestation to the house, garden and the grafters the hardscape is finally down phew! We can now  start clearing the debris from the bomb site and begin to realise the vision. Peace will reign once more on this shore.  An oasis of calm will be instated over the coming months.

Observing the stone after a rainfall and admiring how it enhances their beauty even more I certainly realise they were so well worth the cost –  never compromise on a good stone.   I got this one  from Adrian Hall garden centre where they have a vast array to choose from – check them out they have various locations around the capital.

The Vision (subject to change)

There’s no going back now – onwards and upwards!

The new pathways made from
lovely tumbled textured natural stone

Out with the old – with a little help from my friends

Timberrrrr The conifers come a tumbling down

Glossy Green Laurel Leaves will grow into a manageable mature hedge over time to give a little privacy to the small front garden

watch out for more updates and development of this space throughout the coming months

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Say it with Pictures

How fortunate we have been here in the UK enjoying a very sunny and early Spring – recent pictures from the garden put it all into words

A little bit of urban wilderness

Pots amongst the forget me nots

Wonder where this path leads to……………….

More tea vicar

Ah go on now ya will ya will

Sweet Messages
One stick or two?

Where there is tea there is cake
white chocolate cup cakes
happy 13th birthday asheebee

Wish my lemon tree was producing these
Zesty soaps from Bronnley

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