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

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


In The Name Of Progress


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