Big ideas for small gardens

Plant Vintage and Craft Lover Fiona Cumberpatch Has a Small Town Garden in Lincolnshire That She’s Bringing Back to Life With Easy Projects and Planting Ideas

Recent events have meant a major rethink in my garden this summer. Last month, I had loads more time to spend in my plot but, like everyone else, I wasn’t able to go shopping for bright, beautiful bedding plants for my borders and containers. Faced with the prospect of a flowerless summer, I took drastic action and started sowing seeds. Every window ledge in my house was crammed with an assortment of plastic pots and old milk cartons, holes pierced in the bottoms and covered with clingfilm. With so much uncertainty in the world, I did not want my plants to let me down, so I chose the mustardy varieties such as mizuna. Even better, once they have been harvested, leave the roots, keep the pot well-watered and they’ll come back with another crop. I’m also loving crunchy, long, white icicle radishes, another sow-and- leave crop available at, and I have my fingers crossed for plenty of spicy red chillies, which should be ripe next month.

Big ideas for small gardens

For spirit-lifting colour, I planted nasturtium seeds outside in an old terracotta pot. I mingled a climbing mixed variety in sunshine yellow and hot orange with pretty ruby-red ‘Baby Deep Rose’ from They grow fast in full sun, and I get great results in about six weeks. Extra zing comes from zinnias, nurtured inside in early May, then planted out in a blue enamel container, which shows off their jewel-box tones to perfection. I am so pleased that I saved last year’s pelargoniums by putting them inside over easiest, cheeriest flowers to grow, plus some straightforward vegetables. I knew I would miss the fragrant smell and textures of my favourite herb plants, so I also sowed sage, oregano, parsley and basil. They took a couple of weeks to sprout, but they came good and now I have a pretty herb garden underway in an old zinc trough. Mixed leaves for summer salads were a must, and they have been my most successful crop. At this time of year, I sprinkle the seeds straight into a pot outside, keep the soil moist but not soggy, and they pop up in a couple of days.

Big ideas for small gardens

There’s no need to thin them out, or to repot the seedlings, just let them go and in a couple of weeks, you will have some servings of super-healthy greens. I particularly like the spicy, winter away from the frosts. They’ve come back, flowered, and now I’m displaying them in some lovely old vintage biscuit tins I found on eBay. The perfect accessory among this kaleidoscope of colour is a gorgeous pink parasol from I may not have a show garden this year, but I am learning to love what I’ve got. So what if there are a few gaps here and there? Each tiny sprouting seed and every flower that blooms is a little sign of hope in such a challenging year for us all.


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