Gardening in a small space: Three top gardening hacks April 09, 2016 08:45

Gardening in a small spaceIf you are in the vicinity of Kent or South London at this time of year, you may hear the screams from both my house and also my sisters' four walls. 'Mum! Dad! About the garden...'

Thank goodness for our long suffering parents. When it comes to gardens they are legends. And each year, we test their skill (and patience) by throwing a vast array of questions at them from the naive, complex to the stupid... Anything from 'What is this?!' to 'Er, can I chop this bit off at this time of year? to 'Dad, do you think 'we' could make a pond this weekend?' Come Spring, the weird requests and blank looks start to ramp up. 

Last weekend was no exception. Cat had 'booked' M&D for some serious gardening to transform her city plot into an oasis of colour this summer. Think small, square 30ft garden in which low maintenance is pretty high up on the agenda. Thanks to The City Gardener there is already a lovely patio in place which was laid last Autumn along with smart edging, all of which helps maximise the sense of space and create nice, clean lines. Now, another exciting milestone - plant time. 

Cat is a little bit in love with Irises. In fact, between you and I, in the wee small hours, you'll find her working on a fabulous new iris inspired fabric design for Denys & Fielding. Anyway, Irises are her thing so they had to go into the mix for the garden along with hellebores, tangine poppies (can't tell you the excitement these are stirring up), campanulas and penstemon for colour and contrast. Food is big in our family so herbs and an area for veggies were a natural addition to pots and a small bed (and I mean small - it is 50cm X 20cm!) that is close enough to the back door to 'harvest' as and when needed.

(Tip: Don't add mint to a bed - keep it in a pot instead, especially if space is tight as it has a tendency to be fairly overbearing and take over.)

Add a bijou BBQ and several of our balcony deckchairs and voila! Heaven in South London. If you are looking for a low maintenance garden, here are our three top garden hacks: 

1. Pick Perennials: Much of the flower and foliage added to Cat's garden will keep coming up year after year. Maybe a bit of cutting back required each year but other than that, pretty hassle free. In fact, you may be dividing clumps of perennials in a few years and dotting around your patch - thereby getting more for your money... Perfect!

2. Go Potty for Planters: Pots and planters allow you to move things around as and when suits you. They are great on window sills and you can put them at different levels around the smallest of spaces to create height and interest. 

3. A Shrubbery! Can't say that word without ripping off Monty Python. Alongside the comedy value, shrubs and small trees are the backbone to any garden, including the small, low maintenance variety. In winter they provide shape and interest in an otherwise bare, brown garden. In summer they come into a life of their own. Such a diverse range of colours, foliage, flowering, non flowering structure is on offer... so make like a Knight, say 'Ni' and get a shrub or two in your life (and garden). You'll never look back.