More Garden Tales

We decided we needed to enlist the help of a garden designer, something we had never considered before. It seemed much easier to plan a large garden than a small one. In a large garden there is room for experimentation, for mistakes and there is always something looking its best. With a garden the size of our new one however there was no room for mistakes and I did not feel my plant knowledge to be sufficient to pick the perfect species to make our tiny garden look stunning the whole year round. Where to start then? I decided that before looking for a garden designer we should try to get some inspiration so that we had some idea of what we wanted. What do do? An answer immediately presented itself- go to the Chelsea Flower Show. This was something we had never done before but that had been on my bucket list for some time.

We had a fabulous day enjoying the exhibits and the show gardens, taking pictures of anything and everything that we thought might be useful in planning our small plot. We also spoke to some of the garden designers present and began to get a feel for the timescales involved. In order for our garden to be in place for next summer we needed to have engaged a garden designer by August at the latest. This was clearly the next step so we consulted local designer Catherine Thomas and agreed a scheme of work with her.

This was the prelude to an intense period of collaboration, ideas flying back and forth as we all tried to get our heads round how tiny this space actually was (the smallest Catherine had ever designed). Eventually a design was agreed and following a tender process for the hard landscaping, work commenced in April 2016. The grey stone slabs were replaced with a warm terracotta which echoed the tiles at the top of the wall. The walls were painted white and the raised bed removed. Specially commissioned planters arrived, followed by a built-in garden bench with storage for our garden tools – now mercifully few as our previous tool shed would have taken up half our new garden. This was all a bit nerve racking particularly wondering if I had chosen the right paint colours for the containers and benches, but all was well. Then the great excitement the arrival of the plants. We also especially love our red hot poker sculpture which we spotted at Chelsea but was made fairly locally at  Straysparks in Somerset.

As I sit in my tiny garden today I realise I appreciate it far more than I did our old garden. Every plant is carefully tended and scrutinised from the moment it comes out of hibernation. Buds are noted and the flowering watched with awe. Each individual plant is known, loved and appreciated both as an individual and as part of the whole. I know this garden far more intimately than my old one. I appreciate it more and differently and take huge pleasure in the fact that when I sit in the garden and look around I don’t have to try to ignore the hours of weeding that need doing in order to make the garden really special. I can instead enjoy every aspect of it.


This has put me in mind of a poem I learned at school  so I though I would finish with it

A GARDEN is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Rose plot,
Fringed pool,
Ferned grot—
The veriest school
Of peace ; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not—
Not God ! in gardens ! when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign;
‘Tis very sure God walks in mine.

T.E. Brown

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