I went a little crazy over the weekend taking shots of our garden and with the Chelsea Flower Show starting today, I’ve got gardens on my mind!
In the pics above you can see our terrace, outdoor kitchen area and a peak through to the dutch oven. Good for making all sorts of things like roasted tomato soup, which I did on the weekend. Oh, and one sleepy Maud! Some of us were busy rolling up our sleeves and gardening, some of us didn’t do so much other than snooze. For the record, I have put proper dog beds out on the terrace, nice chairs and big loungy cushions but nope, she wanted the table of course!
I wouldn’t call myself a gardener at all, ours has come together through total trail and error. My brief was to create a lush, forest-y, scented place to explore. I also wanted the majority of the plants and trees to be green all year round, as we have a double height glass wall overlooking the house and I want to avoid looking at bare bones of plants all winter. Nor did I want to be overlooked by the neighbours so it’s super over grown and a bit wild. I’m out there at all hours feeding seaweed to the bamboo, tomato feeding everything else! As we don’t have curtains (not for me!) and I never close the shutters (I have this weird thing about being shut in), the garden acts as our privacy screen at both the front and the back of the house.
Figuring out your scheme depends obviously on the vibe you want to create. I wanted a secret garden whereby you can’t really see what is in front of you because there is so much planting in the way. Plants aren’t just neatly dotted around the perimeter. Installing the outdoor kitchen totally changed the vibe and brought us out into the garden a lot more. It envelopes the terrace, making it feel way more snug and hang out able (hush, that’s a word). Whether you have a balcony or a garden there are a number of tricks I’ve learnt along the way.
This is my personal opinion obviously, some people prefer a riot of colour for their balcony or garden. I’ve just found that as I’m not an experienced gardener, when I limited the palette to a few fave hues – greens, deep purples and white in my case – it’s much easier to pull off a sophisticated look.
If you’ve got a small garden or balcony then I would definitely encourage you to work within a set palette otherwise it can appear a little too busy. Same goes for containers actually, I’ve got black and gold pots and that is pretty much it.
The same styling principles that work in interiors also apply to gardens, handy right? In order to make the space feel cool we need to create a lively rhythm, switch up heights, have layers of interest. If everything is the same height or shapes it reads as boring. Instead you need to create depth. To do this on a balcony for example, you could put smaller pots in front of larger pots, small plants in front of tall plants like bamboo, butt them together, have things trailing or hanging and don’t leave too many gaps. Also the minute you move plants away from the edge and into the centre of your space you will actually increase the sense of space! Nobody ever believes me until they try it, but I promise it works.
For more top tips from someone who is an expert gardener, you should check out Isabelle Palmer’s book The Balcony Gardener. Isabelle is fab at transforming small spaces into tantalising, intriguing spaces, comme ça…