My aim was to create a ‘room outside’ attractive to both wildlife and people throughout the year.
To keep the costs and work involved to a minimum, I decided to maintain the existing hard landscaping, comprising two seating areas linked by stone steps. The lower larger patio is in full sun from morning to late afternoon, while the “upper deck” catches the last drops of evening sun at aperitif o’clock. I decided to make the most of this suntrap to construct a small arbour where there had been a leaky wooden shed. I thought it would make sense to use the vertical surfaces of walls and fences to support flowering climbers that would soften the garden boundary.
Because of the size of the available planting area, the plants I chose had to be reliable and hardy, readily available but not too vigorous. With the exception of spring flowering bulbs, I’m not desperately keen on yellow and orange flowers. I decided to opt for a colour scheme of mainly pinks, blues and purples, avoiding yellow leaved and variegated foliage in favour of plain green, grey or silver shades. I also paid attention for the first time when choosing possible plants to the question of fragrance.
As the “room outside” idea evolved, I decided that a complete colour makeover to the drab grey walls and brown fences would provide an instant burst of freshness to the garden, creating an attractive background to the climbers and flowering wall baskets in summer.
Taking this idea a step further, I began to think about furniture for my outdoor summer living room. After considering all kinds of off-the-shelf options for the northwest corner of the patio, I came to the conclusion that to maximize the available sitting space, while providing essential dry storage and neatly covering up the tap, electrical point, food recycling bin and rubbish bag, a tailor-made solution was the most sensible option. Granted, not the cheapest solution, but I reckon a sound investment that will tick every box on my wish list.
As I love to cook, I was also keen to dedicate an area of the garden to growing herbs. I hit on the idea of creating a kind of vertical herb wall by attaching a series of pots and wall baskets on the fence nicely out of the reach of slugs – in theory. A sunny spot which is within easy reach of the kitchen on rainy days is the bottom of the west-facing fence. I realise these will take quite a bit of watering, though.