Make Your Garden Beautiful
Think you don’t have the space or know-how to grow your own fruit, veg, flowers or herbs? Think again. Don’t let location or lack of experience deter you from getting your hands dirty. No matter where you live, what type of property you live in, or how green your thumb happens to be, having your own garden (no matter how small) can be an enjoyable reality for most.
A garden is more than a patch of land at the front or back of a property; a garden is a way to express yourself, to inject a little of your own personality into the otherwise wild nature of nature, to bring colour and life to your home. Even the smallest of gardens can be beautiful.
From windowsills to allotments, each different space requires something special to make it stand out. Here are some tips to make your outside (or inside) space gorgeous.
Windowsills and Indoor Gardens
Indoor gardens are the ideal solution for those with no outside space at all. If you live somewhere that has no outside garden, there is no reason not to create one inside – you just need to work at it a little first.
Windowsills are great places to set up your indoor garden as this allows for your plants to get a good dose of sunlight. You may want to invest in a special irrigation system for keeping them watered, and this can be especially useful if you are away from home at any time, but it isn’t strictly necessary. Just remember to place your indoor garden on a tray or similar so that the excess water doesn’t make too much mess.
The best things to grow inside are herbs as they are able to thrive quite happily without the need for too much fresh air. They are also fairly simply to plant and nurture, so for beginners they are perfect. Plus, as a bonus, you can use them in your cooking for an ultra-fresh homemade taste. The same goes for fruit and vegetables (strawberries, blueberries, dwarf apples, carrots, onions and salad greens are great at growing indoors, for example).
You can even grow some flowers such as begonias, petunias and marigolds. Amaryllis are a great variety to start with if you fancy a room full of flowers – they’re easy to grow (even in winter), and are stunning when the blooms show their beautiful faces.
Deck or Balcony
If your outside space is restricted to a deck or balcony you can still have a beautiful flowering garden there. Balcony gardens have a special, intimate feel to them – they are a secret space just for you; although if and when guests do see your handiwork they won’t fail to be impressed.
Since there are no flowerbeds to utilise you will need to think outside the box – or rather, use the box to your advantage. Adding garden boxes to your balcony is a lovely way to improve the look of it as well as offering you the chance to grow your favourite plants and flowers. The fun part is making or finding these boxes yourself. What about wooden wine boxes? They make perfect little beds for planting herbs in, for example. Simply drill a couple of holes in the bottom and fill them with soil – they’re ready to use for planting. Or perhaps jars might work for you? They can be attached using brackets to a wooden board and then fixed to the wall; they look wonderful and you won’t lose any floor space.
No matter how you organise your balcony garden or what you choose to grow your plants in, it will look and smell amazing. The perfect plants for a balcony include lavender, Californian poppies and nasturtiums. As well as these, all kinds of salad leaves and tomatoes can be successfully grown on a balcony, as can a variety of dwarf trees such as olives.
If you do have some outside space but it’s on the small side, never fear. There are some plants that do perfectly well in small gardens, and there are always ways around the issue of space. In order for a small garden to look great it is best to stick to just a few varieties of plants – putting too many different types in will end up giving you a garden that feels too full, and is less enjoyable than one that is a little more restrained.
A good place to start in a small garden is with the structures that are already there. Walls, fences, ugly sheds… whatever you have in the garden can be used. If you don’t like the look of these things you can choose climbing plants such as ivy, leylandii, star jasmine climber, clematis or wisteria amongst many others. These could even be planted in containers if there is no space for putting them directly in the earth.
If your small garden is sunny then there are some bright and beautiful blooms that will do wonderfully there including coneflowers, geraniums, lilies (particularly the Hemerocallis ‘Corky’) and catmint. For shadier land why not try tulips, narcissus, begonias or the lovely sarcococca confusa.
If you’re lucky enough to have a nice big garden then there is a lot you can do with it. It depends on how much room you want to give over to the flowers and how much lawn you want to keep. Your gardening prowess may be the deciding factor here. Once you have worked out how much space you have for planting, it’s time to start the choosing… always the most enjoyable, and most difficult, part.
If you’re a ‘set and forget’ kind of gardener then perennials are the perfect plant for you. These are the types of plant that come back year after year with very little maintenance. They includes foxglove, salvia, tiarella, verbenas and dianthus. Beautiful when blooming they will die off at different points in the year only to re-emerge to bring colour and beauty to the garden once more.
Having a large garden means you don’t have to choose between flowers and fruit and veg – you can have it all. The best edible produce to plant out when you have the space include potatoes, radishes, peas and broad beans, beetroot, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb. And of course, with enough room you can plant out a variety of fruit trees too.
If your space at home is tiny or non-existent and you really do like the idea of growing your own – all of it – then you should look into an allotment. An allotment is a piece of land roughly 250 square metres in size that is leased from a local authority or private landlord. They fell out of favour once people didn’t have to rely on homegrown produce quite so much, although there has been a resurgence of late, and you may have to go on a waiting list if you want to lease one. Most people use their allotments for growing fruit and veg, although flowering plants are welcome too.
What you can grow here will depend on the type of soil and the position of the plot, but in general you are free to plant whatever you choose. Some people even use their allotments to keep rabbits, chickens, or bees.
Allotments go back as far as Anglo Saxon times when they were more communal. Now they are a great place to enjoy some ‘me time’ (whilst also attending to your flowers, fruit, vegetables, or animals of course!) and get away from the world for a while.