The glorious weather, a spring that truly sang and a time to simply enjoy being outside, the silver lining of lockdown was a real appreciation of our outdoor space.
I have never been more grateful for my garden. An outdoor room, somewhere to send the girls when home schooling got too much, a place to pause in our busy days, to potter, prune and watch the wonders of spring transition into summer.
When we redesigned our tiny London garden, we decided to make the space an extension of our kitchen. The large kitchen window and glass door open out fully so there’s barely any boundaries between the two spaces.
A low ‘Moroccan inspired’ seating area in the corner is the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast on a sunny morning. It also gets the last of the evening sun making it a perfect place to end the day, catching up over a cold beer.
We have mixed richly-coloured traditional brickwork with industrial, aged zinc planters. I believe that most things get better with age (myself included!). I love the way that age adds depth to textures and colours, I'm regularly mocked for my love of old rust!
Our seating area has been constructed from reclaimed scaffold boards, the imperfections of the timber is a reminder of its previous life.
We have positioned an old industrial mirrored window at the end of our garden giving an illusion of space.
I love the juxtaposition of the hard, vintage metalwork and the softness of flowers and bright green leaves.
We have recently added a timber pergola to the back of the house so that our white wisteria & climbing roses can create a leafy canopy to add some dappled shade to our sun-filled south facing kitchen.
Our raised brick borders that frame the perimeter of the garden started the spring looking a bit neglected, particularly our shady (most prominent) back bed. Everything I seemed to plant looked a bit sad & got eaten by slugs! This led me to meet Susanna Grant, co-founder of Linda, a Hackney-based business specialising in shady plants for urban spaces.
Space is so often a premium in urban areas, yet Susanna firmly believes even if you only have a postage-stamp-sized plot, there are clever ways of planting to get the most out of your balcony, courtyard or window box.
Here Susanna shares her green-fingered tips to get the most out of even the darkest and shadiest outdoor spaces….
A lovely garden or balcony is not only an extra room when it’s warm, it transforms your views from inside too.
People make the common mistake of choosing the wrong plants for their space. Sadly, no matter how much you love dahlias they simply won’t grow well in a shady north-facing garden.
Work out how much light you have and then choose plants accordingly. It’s much better to select something that will thrive. This will help make the most of what you’ve got.
So, if you really want a tropical garden but only get a couple of hours of sunlight, then choose lush, leafy ferns and evergreens that will give a jungley-feel.
A key piece of design advice is to disguise your boundaries by planting climbers to cover walls. This helps create depth in small gardens.
Try and plant in drifts and repeat your planting. It’s much more calming than looking at lots and lots of different plants that are clashing with each other.
As a general rule of thumb, you should have more planting than empty space. Make sure you include plants for pollinators too.
Soften the space with a string of outdoor lights and some cushions to make it comfy.
Instant impact isn’t always best… bedding plants might give an immediate pop of colour, yet they are intensively farmed and require huge amounts of energy to grow and get replaced each year.
Slow gardening is so satisfying…the beauty of a garden is watching it come alive in the spring, sing in the summer and naturally die back at the end of the year and you only get that with perennials. It requires patience but is so rewarding.
Susanna has just reopened her Hackney shop. Find out more on her website www.hellotherelinda.com
With many of us choosing to have 'staycations' instead of going away on holiday this year our gardens will feel more important than ever. Here's our edit of stylish accessories to make the most of your gardens this summer.