Small Garden Design.

As we are still eagerly waiting for the builder to start work down below thought I’d treat you to a little garden tour this week.

The first stage of the basement renovation was reconfiguring our tiny back garden. For a long time we had wanted to replace the bay window in the dining room with crittal style doors. As ever there was a problem to be overcome before we could do this. Directly under the bay window was a light well surrounded by railings. It was the only source of light down into the back room of our basement. The solution was realised late last summer when the railings around this were taken down and the well covered with a glass floor.

My garden is typical of the period of the property. It’s a very small yard which would have housed an outside toilet, a place to tie up the horse and room to dry the washing. There is also the problem of shared access.

The whole space is flagged, with various plants in containers. When the children were young it was dominated by a large two story playhouse which had become a dumping ground and storage place for a lot of old junk we didn’t need anymore.

Where to begin.

The aim was to create an outside room, which flowed from house. This would be achieved in my signature maximalist style by using layers of texture created through hard landscaping, varying heights, clever planting, natural rattan furniture, outside lighting and lots of textiles in the form of rugs, cushions and throws.

Colour is as important to design as texture. Using one colour on the walls and fences was the first stage in creating a coherent space. Painting these in Zinsser all coat exterior satin mixed to the same shade as the dining room (Farrow and Ball Railings) achieved this.

Of course there were sketches.


  • Outside dining
  • Somewhere to sit in the sun
  • Planting in pots
  • Somewhere to dry the washing
  • No horse to tether or outside loo needed.


A pergola would kill two birds with one stone, it would add instant height and provide a sheltered dining area. I gave Poor Tim my sketch and set him to work.

As the whole are is flagged any plating would have to be in pots. We used large planters around the base of each leg of the pergola to grow climbing plants. There is not much that won’t grow in the right tub so experiment and give it a go, do think about how much light and shade the plant will need and place accordingly. We chose white climbing roses, clematis monanta and a climbing hydrangea. The clematis was the most successful, my roses aren’t very overly happy and the climbing hydrangea is downright sulking. We are still waiting for the promised dappled shade from the plants and have bought a canopy to provide shelter on sunny days.

The garden is south facing and gets glorious sun for most of the day. I have different planting zones and never use straight lines. Against the wall of the house, in the full sun are my Mediterranean plants, a grape vine, a bay tree ,a fig tree and a lemon tree. I add seasonal bedding plants in smaller planters in and amongst to vary the height and create pockets of colour. I try to stick to a colour pallet of blue, purple and white. The only yellows you will see in my garden are daffodils in the spring time, and you’ll never find red.

In the shade behind the wall are hostas and ferns, I have a small jungle and my beloved tree fern in the sunny corner next to my door.

An Outside Room.

I had always dreamed of a hanging egg chair to sway gently in the sun and this one from fitted the bill perfectly. The matching rattan chairs and bench complimented this. One of the best tips I heard for creating a relaxing outdoor space was don’t be limited to purpose build garden furniture. With this in mind I painted our old dining table to match the rest of the outside and it does the job superbly. My habit of hording paid off when I hung the old chandelier from the hallway for the perfect finishing touch.

Next I layered up the textiles. Rugs to lead a path through the space, and blur the line between inside and outside, cushions and throws for comfort and interest. One of my most asked questions whenever I share my garden is ‘What do you do when it rains?’ The large rugs are outdoor rugs so the can withstand summer rain. I invested in large waterproof furniture covers and have a basket to store throws and cushions in which I bring inside.

The finishing touches for us have been;

A pizzaoven Lockdown weekends were made so much more fun with the prospect of home made pizza, we used it so much throughout last summer, and for much more than pizza.

With our Yorkshire climate we need to keep warm, what better way than this gorgeous outdoor stove. It’s portable, so perfect to move around our tiny yard, it has a long flue so we don’t end up smelling of smoke and it gives out so much heat.

We are counting down the days until we can share our gorgeous garden with friends and family again.

3 thoughts on “Small Garden Design.

  1. Love your garden colours and plants. Nothing like hostas and ferns although climbing hydrageas can be a bit sulky if they’re not in the right place


      1. Oh dear, that’s not good although it might just be because it’s winter. I always find that roses never look great during the dark, dank months.


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