A garden can be unique and distinguished no matter what size it is. It is the garden designer and the gardener who will make the garden either dull and commonplace or interesting. Dealing with a small garden takes a higher degree of ingenuity from the designer than designing a large garden. It becomes a question of knowing what to leave out rather than what to put in.
The Small Town House Garden
The town house garden is bounded all round by an eight foot high wall. Opposite the house there is a garden room, built from rough blocks of stone, running the length of the wall and giving an inside space
The garden room wall, since it is rough, has chinks and holes, out of which grows a gay profusion of white and yellow saxifrage and stonecrop, orange alstroemeria, and pink thrift.
The rest of the garden, only a few yards wide, has a square flower bed in the middle surrounded by a narrow path of crushed sea shells and sand. The flower bed is filled with bush roses, sweet-smelling stocks, snapdragons, blue cornflowers, carnations and campanula. On the other side of the path is a border against the wall, less than a yard wide and edged with a neatly trimmed little box hedge. In this border is a mixture of flowering shrubs, mostly, but not all, evergreen; chaenomeles, euphorbia characias, cuphea hyssopifolia, salvias and hebes.
Every square foot of the garden has been used and yet nothing looks crowded or out of place.
The Long Narrow Garden
This long suburban garden is separated from its neighbours by high walls on either side. It is a larger overall area than the small town house garden but its length is greater than its width. A thick beech hedge, grown to the same height as the boundary walls, has been planted about half way down the garden, dividing it in two. The half of the garden nearest to the house is a quiet, closely mown lawn with an almond tree, not centred, and a few clematis climbers growing up the walls. There are no other plants or beds or shrubs to detract from the tranquillity of the expanse of lawn. This is an inner haven, a secure and secluded world.
A gateway in the beech hedge takes you through to a straight grass path leading up the garden between two wide borders filled with perennial flowers. Facing you at the end of the grass walk is a wooden summer house, looking back down the garden towards the house.
This is a very simple design, but the overall effect is breathtaking.
The Pocket Handkerchief Garden
This is a tiny square area, but open to the sun for at least part of the day with no high fences, hedges or walls around. It has been planted as a herb garden. 2 paths of stone slabs 24 inches wide form a St George's cross and divide the area into 4 even smaller squares. These are filled with several inches of mixed weed free compost and gravel. At the end of the path furthest from the house there is a stone trough which has been filled with soil and planted with creeping thymes to form a herb seat. Cracks between the slabs of the path have been planted with apple-scented chamomile.
Square one â perennial kitchen herbs, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, winter savory, bronze fennel
Square two â perennial medicinal and scented herbs, rue, clove carnations, bergamot, southernwood, lemon balm
Square three â is filled with hyssop, chervil, sweet marjoram and chives
Square four âis bordered with lavender and has parsley, dill and caraway
This is a scented garden â as you move among the herbs to pick them and strands are crushed underfoot, they release their perfume. This is Paradise on a pocket handkerchief!