Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

Forget standard hanging baskets of yesteryear, today’s take on this garden classic is far more fun, like those in Sally’s plot, p22. All these projects take a fresh new look at this old favourite, to bring a blast of modern texture, colour and shape to your outside space. There’s a creation here to suit your garden, whatever its style. Leafy spheres of ferns will instantly add a calming touch of Zen to your plot, or plant an abundant cascade of blooms to bring some serious patio wow. Even familiar plants will look incredible when suspended from a lofty height, especially when you pair them with the perfect container that’s every bit as gorgeous as the blooms. Whichever project you choose, your modern hanging basket is guaranteed to stop your garden visitors in their tracks this summer!

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer


This quick project will make your feathered friends very happy, as they’ll appreciate being able to drink and bathe in the shelter and safety of a tree. It’s easy to create – just plant up a chunky woven container with trailing ivy and fragrant Corsican mint, both of which will survive without too much TLC. Position the plants at intervals around the edge of the basket, encouraging the stems to hang down the side, and place a shallow metal saucer in the centre. Suspend the basket from a sturdy overhanging branch. Fill the saucer with water, sit back and watch the birdy action!


Gardman Rattan Hanging Basket 304.8mm, £3.80 Dark Galvanised Tray Dia28cm, £3.99 Wilko Tub and Basket Compost, £2/20L Good Home Trailing Ivy x 4, £4/12cm pot Corsican mint x 1, £5.99/9cm pot TOTAL: £31.78.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer


Sphere of lush and leafy sword ferns will bring shape and texture to a shady spot. Begin by removing chains and hooks from two wire hanging baskets. Line each with a coco liner and fill the base with a rich potting compost. Add water-retaining granules, such as Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Container and Baskets Gel (£6/250g, to the compost. Divide two sword ferns into several smaller plants – just remove each from its pot and use a knife to saw the root ball into four mini plants. Make sure each has plenty of roots and fronds intact. Snip four openings in each liner, one at the base and three just below the basket rim. Push the root ball of a plant through each opening and hold in place as you firm compost around its roots, then fill both baskets with compost. Sandwich the baskets together using wire and pliers to secure them, and re-clip the chains ready to hang. Water thoroughly and allow to drain before suspending in place.


Sword ferns x 2, £5.21/2-3L pot John Innes No 3 Compost, £3.52/10L 40cm Hanging Basket With Coco Liner x 2, £6.50 each TOTAL: £26.94.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer


Irresistibly tactile, these baskets will astound your friends this summer. The mass of rich green grass hanging below the basket can grow to extraordinary lengths, forming a sculptural teardrop shape. A mix of two similar-looking plants – baby panda bamboo and creeping bent grass – brings a Japanese feel that oozes a tranquil sense of well-being. You’ll need to grow the bent grass from seed, but it’s easy and quick to do so. Fill a 40-cell seed tray to just below the rim with compost. Firm, water and leave to drain, before evenly covering the surface with seed and a thin layer of compost. Wait until the seeds have germinated and grown into shoots around 8cm long around four weeks before gently tipping out the individual cells. Each cell should have well-established roots.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer

Create a ball-shaped basket by lining two identical wire baskets with coco liners and filling with moisture control compost. To make the lower half of the hanging sphere, snip neat cuts at regular intervals in the liner. Pop a creeping bent grass plant through each opening, nestling the roots into the compost. Continue until this basket’s surface is almost covered. Don’t worry if there are gaps and you can see the liner as these will be covered as the grass grows. Fill the other basket with compost and sandwich the two together to form a ball shape, fixing in place using wire ties. Saw up the bamboo into small sections using an old bread knife, making sure each one has some roots. Cut openings into the top basket liner and plant up as before. Keep the finished basket well-watered and ensure it doesn’t dry out.


Creeping bent seed, £6/100g Baby panda bamboo, £6.50/1L pot PlantPak 40-cell Seed Tray £4/5 trays Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Compost, £6.94/50L Gardman Classic Black Hanging basket 40.64cm with coco liner x 2, £6.60 each TOTAL: £36.64.


This zinc bucket brimming over with pale pink campanula oozes understated elegance. Flowering continuously throughout the summer, it loves a spot in full sun or part shade. Make it now, and it will thrive year after year. Using a hammer and nail, pierce several drainage holes through the base of the bucket. Cover the holes with a layer of broken crocks and fill two thirds of the bucket with container compost. Carefully turn the campanula out of its plastic pot and place in the centre of the bucket. Fill round with compost, firming down to hold the plant upright. Double over a 1.5m length of twine and tie the ends to the loops either side of the bucket’s rim. Raising the twine, tie a central knot to form a top loop, ready for hanging from a metal S-hook. Water thoroughly and allow to drain before hanging.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer


Campanula punctata Pink Octopus’, £9/3L pot Vinterfest Galvanised Bucket 10L, £7 Nutscene Natural 3 Ply Jute Twine 110m, £3.50 Grundtal S-hook 7cm, £2.50/5 Gro-sure Easy Container Compost, £4.75/25L TOTAL: £26.75.


Upcycle an old wooden box or crate you already have to become a hanging basket, and you’ll add a whole new layer of loveliness! Here, the dazzling ballerina blooms of fuchsia ‘Nora’ shine out from a dizzying array of natural textures. Fun and easy to put together, this project will add a unique touch to your garden. Any crate will do – just line it with an old compost bag turned inside out, making drainage holes in the plastic to line up with the gaps between the wooden slats. Add compost and a plant. Tie rough, natural rope to each corner and hang – along with the old handle of a well-worn garden rake or hoe for added texture – suspended from branch with metal hooks. Winding garden twine or salvaged rope around the pole will add to the relaxed and incidental look.

Create a Wow Factor Hanging Basket and Amaze Your Friends This Summer


Wilko Tub and Basket Compost, £2/20L Fuchsia ‘Nora’, £8.99 Diall Jute Twisted Rope 14mm x 10m, £9.95 Small 70mm Wrought Iron S Hook x 2, £5 each TOTAL: £30.94.

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

On one gloomy afternoon back in November, I spent a few hours putting bulbs in pots and planting them in my small flower border. It was a bit fiddly but I’m finally reaping the rewards as my beautiful tulips are starting to flower. I love the slim orange ‘Ballerina’ ones mixed with purple ‘Queen of Night’, and I have a few sapphire blue grape hyacinths popping up alongside them, too. When I sit outside with my cuppa in the morning, I can smell their faintly sweet scent and I know that spring is finally here.

I usually have a few gaps where some bulbs haven’t come up maybe they rotted after all that rain in February, or perhaps they were dug up by a visiting cat – so then I cheat and buy some ready-grown ones to pop in and make my containers and beds look really full and lush. Filling the gaps and using every centimetre are what it’s all about in a small space, and now I’ve been in this garden for over a year, I know exactly which plants can help me to do this. Last year I discovered diascia in my favourite shades of dusky purple and hot orange.
Plant Vintage and Craft Lover Fiona
I’ll be keeping an eye out for these plants at the garden centre at the end of April when the weather has started to warm up enough to plant them out. I’ll put them in hanging baskets, in small pots and large ones, and they’ll romp away from May to October, getting thicker and more colourful as the year passes. Whenever they start to fade, a quick trim with a pair of scissors keeps them going on and on.

Another brilliant gap-filler is Mexican fleabane (also called erigeron). Don’t be put off by the name: it looks absolutely stunning in pots as it tumbles over the edges with its miniature leaves and tiny daisy flowers. The best part is that you can use it to cover scrappy bits of soil around a patio or even use it to fill in cracks in paving. It grows from seed to flower in three months, and it’s easy to sprinkle these around in small crevices.

You can also buy ready-grown ones from the garden centre. I’m planning to use it everywhere this season, including prettying up the edges of the footpath at the back of my house. Once it’s in the ground, it doesn’t need much care, just the occasional drink and tidy up, but even if you do just plant and forget about it, you won’t be disappointed. Blossom is everywhere just now, and when I’m out and about visiting friends with some to spare, I bring a few snippets back home as I don’t have quite enough flowers in my own small plot to cut a posy yet. I put single stems in a stash of vintage glass bottles that I found at a tabletop sale, then group them together to create a display. It’s a tantalising reminder of all the garden gorgeousness that is yet to come!

Make Your Garden Feel Bigger by Stealing a Little Something From The Landscape Around You

Want to make your plot look larger?

Then pinch a detail from outside your garden boundaries. It’s a really quick and easy designer trick, and it can transform the feel of your garden. All you need to do is frame an interesting snippet of the landscape beyond your plot and your eye will be drawn outwards to it. Whether that pleasing feature is a glimpse of a distant horizon or just next-door’s tree, it will lend your garden a sense of spaciousness that belies its boundaries. This isn’t a new idea. Japanese garden design has used the concept of ‘shakkei’, which translates as ‘borrowed scenery’, for centuries. Techniques not only incorporate a view into a garden but create illusions to increase the sense of expansiveness.

Make Your Garden Feel Bigger   A Little Something From The Landscape Around You

For example, shrubs might be planted to frame a view of a distant woodland, concealing a garden fence to make it look as if those trees are part of the plot. And, by choosing big-leaved shrubs, the smaller-leaved trees would appear further away. Incorporating the more alluring parts of the surrounding landscape in this way is also called ‘ikedori’, which means ‘captured alive’.



If you’re lucky enough to have a fabulous view from your garden, like Sally’s vista of the Yorkshire hills, see p22, then a simple pergola will frame the vista perfectly such eye-popping scenery needs little assistance to grab your attention! But don’t despair if not even the smallest, most overlooked urban garden can steal a view or two if you’re clever. First, take a walk around your garden to see what little gems are within sight. Pay particular attention to the views from your favourite relaxing spots, so sit down on your outdoor sofa or lie on your sunlounger and see what you can spy. What you’re looking for is a little bit of loveliness perhaps you can see a church spire or a stone wall? A neighbour’s tree? If one or more of your boundaries abuts a field or open ground, then get out your stepladder and have a look over the top to see what would be visible if you were to create a see-through frame in your fence. In an urban garden, you’ll have to be more creative. Can you spy a shapely chimney pot or an interesting bit of architecture? And don’t forget you always have an expanse of sky to frame!

Make Your Garden Feel Bigger   A Little Something From The Landscape Around You

There are lots of ways to frame your view. You could use a man-made material and install a modern arch or a ring of Corten steel (try Corten Steel Moon Gate, £1,469.72, Simply shaping the top of a wooden fence can draw your attention to a feature, or cut a hole in it. Trim the branches of a tree to reveal, then fringe, a view, or gradually enlarge a circular window in a hedge to capture and encompass a landscape detail. And don’t forget to look up! Use a well-placed water-feature or glass-topped table to reflect the shapely leaves of a neighbour’s tree, or simply fill a few pots with tall-stemmed blooms to sit either side of your sunlounger and frame your view of the sky.

Sally Worts’ PARTY PATIO brings style and drama to her Yorkshire garden.

Fearless, masculine and moody are just some of the descriptions friends, social media followers and even tradespeople have used to describe Sally Worts’ garden. And surveying the interior stylist’s vast veranda overlooking rolling Yorkshire hills, it’s easy to see why. “I’ve always been drawn to striking style,” Sally smiles. “And everything works against black – it makes even the most dreary object pop. When people see the space I’ve created, they never fail to gasp in surprise. It’s not your average patio!” Sally’s vision for a dark and dramatic outdoor space was years in the making. When she, husband Chris and their four sons moved into the barn conversion seven years ago, they inherited a cluster of inconveniently tall trees and a run-of-the-mill patio. “The patio was a perfectly adequate space, with bog-standard paving slabs,” she explains. “It was boring! I’d had an idea in my head for ages about creating a bold, party-style space with dramatic pops of green and black. So this certainly didn’t meet the mark!”

Patio Ideas – Patio Gardens – Patio Design Ideas Photo Gallery


Before Sally could let loose with her ideas, there was the issue of budget – plus the added complication of trees cluttering the garden’s grass area beyond the patio and obstructing the spectacular view. “Those 12-foot trees blocked out all the natural light in the house and patio,” Sally says. “So our first priority when we moved in was to take all 30 of the trees out.” To save cash, Sally’s husband Chris did the chopping himself, uprooting all the trees and rotovating the soil. “He did it in stages over a few months,” Sally explains. “Little by little, the amazing view unfolded and we began to see the potential of the veranda. I started getting really excited about the possibilities.”

With the split-level grass area cleared and Sally’s transformation of the barn interior complete, it was time to start planning the veranda and patio space. And with her strong signature style and desire to transition seamlessly from indoors to out, Sally was in no doubt as to the colour palette. “It had to be black,” she says. “I’d used Farrow and Ball’s Railings in the house and knew that shade would be perfect outside, too.”


A local joiner was called in to construct the veranda platform and lower-level patio, and his brief was clear: to create a sociable, holidaystyle space including dedicated zoned areas. “We’d created a home bar in a room at the end of the house, and I loved the idea of walking out with a drink, ready to either eat at a dining table or relax in a comfortable lounge area,” explains Sally. “We wanted to use the space in all weathers so rain cover was essential, and so was keeping as much natural light as possible.” The first stage of the process involved laying membrane down over the existing paving slabs on both the veranda and the lower level patio beyond – essential to save on costs and unnecessary hassle.

Find the Perfect Garden Style

Standard wooden decking from a local builders’ merchant was the material of choice for the veranda flooring, with timber slats positioned alongside sunlight-friendly plastic on the sloping roof. With construction starting in late summer, Sally was impatient. “I wanted to make as much use of the space while we had the weather, so I didn’t waste any time,” she says. “The joiner was literally laying the decking down while I followed him with a paintbrush!” And when it came to the lower-level patio area below, Sally adopted a similar hands-on approach. “We bought a job lot of 200 bags of white gravel for that zone,” she remembers. “As he garden centre was delivering them, the hole family and I were carrying them through o the patio to slit the bags and spread them.” The look and feel of those pale pebbles were rucial. “I wanted a clear contrast between the ack paintwork and the patio floor,” Sally xplains. “I asked the garden centre for their hitest stone – they recommended Cotswold Chipping. The effect of that bright texture gainst the dark decking was amazing.”


Colour contrast also came in the form of a wooden summerhouse, which Sally inherited when moving in. Back then it was positioned in the lower grass area and painted a muted green – the antithesis to Sally’s style. By moving it to the patio area and painting in a shade matched to Sally’s beloved Railings, the structure tied in perfectly. Zoning the area came next, and Sally’s priority was creating the feel of two separate rooms. “I had an idea for a kind of party zone outside the home bar, where we could have a drink. I found a stunning black hanging chair at Rockett St George ( It added a cool vibe to that zone, alongside a black garden bench I already owned.”

But it was Sally’s pièce de résistance – three hanging disco balls sourced from Amazon – that really set the party tone. “I love them!” she smiles. “I continued the gold theme with cushions and it really brought that area to life.” Next up was the lounge zone, and the dark palette extended with an outdoor sofa and two armchairs from Cushions and rugs were pinched from inside the house, all the while sticking to the restrained palette of black and gold. And with fewer colours, texture became all-important. Sally deliberately clashed textures, such as a shiny gold pot on a natural wood table. “Jarring textures like that creates interest,” she explains.


A simple but strong colour scheme also applied to the planting plan. “Everything had to be green,” Sally says. “It works so well against the black. I share designer Abigail Ahern’s style, and I was once lucky enough to visit her garden as part of a masterclass. The way she stuck to a single palette for the plants was so effective.” At the base of Sally’s greenery is ivy, which grows up the fencing and over the veranda roof. Stems of faux ivy have been twined around the posts to give a lush feel while the real deal grows big enough to take over. Clematis covers the barn wall and a eucalyptus tree takes pride of place on the patio. And those abundant ferns? They’re artificial, too! Sally couldn’t be happier with the final look. “It’s exactly as I imagined,” she says. “I use the veranda every single day without fail. I’ll sit in my winter coat with a cup of tea, sunbathe while I work on my laptop, or relax with the family and a drink from the bar. That view over the hills comes into its own in every single season.” Asked to choose her favourite spot, Sally’s in no doubt: “The party zone with the disco balls! It’s my piece of Ibiza on the Yorkshire borders.”

Faking that LIVED IN LOOK

Will Fisher and Charlotte Freemantle’s garden looks as if it’s been in place for a hundred years. But they CREATED IT FROM SCRATCH after moving to a London row house.

When antiques dealers Will Fisher and Charlotte Freemantle bought their house, the groundfloor kitchen had no access to the backyard garden. “The kitchen had a door leading to a tiny boxed-in patio, which made it very damp and dark,” says Will. To marry the kitchen to the garden, they doubled the size of the doors and serendipitously found some eighteenth century Portland stone steps that, “while massively overscaled, were exactly the right length to bridge the gap between the garden and the kitchen below.” At the base of the new staircase, they placed a reclaimed iron drain.

The Super Cool Easy Backyard Garden Idea Photo Gallery

On sunny mornings, Will and Charlotte like to start the day with coffee and the newspaper in their backyard, sitting under a mature apple tree, the only reminder of the previous owners, amid a collection of mix-and-match vintage furnishings they leave outdoors to encourage development of a patina. “Furniture and objects should look as if they’ve grown roots because they’ve been in situ for so long,” says Will. From years of collecting antique garden ornaments to sell in their shop, the couple had amassed their own trove of urns, planters and vases that they scattered about the garden to reinforce a feeling of haphazard accumulation by generations of gardeners. “I love creating environments that are entirely new but appear authentic in every way,” says Charlotte.

You don’t have to go for hard landscaping to introduce reclaimed style into your outside space. These fast fixes will create a similar efect.

@ Metalwork Choose a wrought iron metal gate to use as an informal trellis. Or put a mirror behind it on a wall to create an optical illusion . Expect to pay about £70.

@ Tiles Old terracotta tiles have a wonderfully irregular shape and feel. Create an outdoor splashback for a potting bench, or use as ‘feet’ for plant pots. They cost about £2 each.

@ Chimney pots A quirky alternative to a plant pot, these high rise clay pots are a clever way to create height in borders or to make a focal point. They are open-bottomed so best positioned on soil rather than a patio, unless you use a saucer. These chimneys are usually priced at £20-£25 each.

3 Simple Ways To Salvaged Style Garden Photo Gallery


Reclaimed bricks

These are old bricks which have been salvaged from demolition jobs and cleaned up to remove all the old mortar, and they’re the most commonly reclaimed building material. They range in colour, texture and size. You can buy orange, red, cream, yellow and even blue bricks, depending on which part of the country they come from, so there will be a style to suit your garden and planting scheme. Before purchasing, check that the bricks you’re buying are frost-proof. What are they used for? Building walls, creating small raised borders, laid on their sides as pretty edging or laid flat to make an attractive and durable pathway.

Cobbles and setts

Cobbles were originally rounded beach or river pebbles about 200-400mm (8-16in)in size, and setts are straight-sided blocks of quarried stone, which are usually 50-300mm (2-12in) long and about 50mm deep, although sizes can vary from small cubes to larger, loaf shapes. Confusingly, the two products are sometimes listed under the same name, and may even have a regional name (they’re called ‘cassies’ or ‘nidgers’ in Scotland!). Setts can be made from sandstone or granite. They’re becoming increasingly popular for their charmingly irregular surface and colour, as well as their durability. What are they used for? Patios and paths with a mosaic efect, or for small paved areas where pots could be grouped.

Tile edging

Just as popular now as they were in Victorian times, edging tiles create an elegant finish to a border or path. Traditional types often have a decorative look, with a barley twist or rope top efect, a simple finish which works well in unfussy modern gardens. They come in a number of colours, but the Ruabon Red Top rope edging is a sought after style in reclamation yards. Fix the tiles in place with a dry mix concrete so, if you move house, you can take them with you! Convincing copies are available at builders’ merchants, such as Marshalls, if your budget doesn’t stretch to the real deal. What is it used for? Placing at the sides of a path or border to create a neat yet textured edge.

When Jacqui Brooks first set eye on her garden in 2018, there wa almost nothing about it she like “It had some badly laid decking and a lawn which had been planted on top of some rubble,” she remembers. “There was nothing I wanted apart from a big plum tree a the bottom which conceals some of the surrounding houses.” But Jacqui was undaunt by the amount of work required. In fact, she w pleased. “It meant I could take everything out and start with a blank canvas,” she explains. As the busy co-founder of Miafleur, an onl home and garden accessories boutique whic she runs with daughters Hollie and Amelia, Jacqui has little spare time so she employed local company Second Nature Gardens to create a design to her specifications.

“I wanted a sense of structure, and I asked for plenty of evergreen plants as I like to enjoy my garden all year round. Chris Gutteridge, the designer and owner, came up with elements I would never have thought of, such as low box hedging on the patio nearest the house. I wanted fencing, walls and hedging which would help to frame the patio areas, and lots of different areas where I could create the little vignettes that I love, using plants and accessories, such as pots, outdoor mirrors, interestingly shaped chairs and plant SEVERY AVAILABLE SPACE IS FILLED with rich detail and handmade touches, like this rustic bench, created by a local carpenter, flanked by a variety of pots and backed by a clematis. stands.

How do I design my own landscape?

I find things everywhere, from our own store, at antiques fairs and in salvage yards.” It took the three months of autumn 2012 for Chris to carry out the hard landscaping, including building two walls, creating two patios, and planting the different areas. “The only access to the garden is through the garage and kitchen, so it wasn’t an easy time,” recalls Jacqui. “But I’m very pleased with the results.” When the weather is fine, she often shares lunch outside with her daughters on the patio which can be accessed via the kitchen or the garden room. There is a built-in garden store adjacent to the house, containing a log store, with room for some tools, plus a surface where Jacqui can pot her plants.

Wildlife Garden Design


The store is painted in Farrow & Ball’s French Gray, a colour which has also been used on the horizontal fencing, and is an effective contrast to the bold blooms which Jacqui loves. To the right of the patio, there are a number of evergreen plants, including a hebe, trailing ivy and an azalea. “I wanted to have this greenery near the house so there’s something to see, even in the depths of winter,” she explains. In the middle section of the garden, there is a rectangular herbaceous flower bed where Jacqui lets her love of colour run riot with deep shades of purple and pink cosmos, which will keep flowering until the first frosts, zingy green echinacea, dark pink achillia, and lamb’s ears with their soft, tactile green foliage and lipstick-pink flowers. “I’ve always had lots of rich colours in my home, in the form of cushions, throws and china, and this is continued outside, too. I’m not a plant expert but I know what I like,” explains Jacqui. “Shopping online for plants is so convenient, but mistakes can be made. I planted a hydrangea too close to the large plum tree and it was too shady. On the arch, the original roses were just too big and floppy, so they were removed and will be replaced with a smaller variety.


A pots are beyond the realms of your budget, Jacqui recommends painting a new one with a coat of pale emulsion and simply leaving the weather to ‘age’ the surface naturally.

Natural Backyard Landscaping Ideas

Don’t be afraid to make changes,” she advises. “Just take the plant out and put something else there instead! I’m also impatient: if something is not doing well, then it’s out!” The free-flowing character of the flower bed is tempered by some formal cubes of box hedging, which sit in the gravel. “My son is a tree surgeon, so luckily he helps me to keep all the hedges trimmed and in shape,” she explains. The cream-painted summerhouse provides one of the garden’s focal points. There is a sandstone patio outside, with inviting tables, chairs and loungers. The area is framed by an old mellow red brick wall, which looks as if it’s been standing for hundreds of years, but in fact this is one of the features which Jacqui introduced. “It’s a false wall which has been created with reclaimed brick to get that aged, characterful look.

It has a very handy gap behind it, which is where I store all the messy stuff!” Even the area behind the shed at the end of the garden, which most people might be tempted to neglect, has been carefully styled with a variety of pots in varying shapes and sizes, and two grey painted potting benches, which Jacqui has crammed with container plants. Hostas stand in the shade, their shapely foliage adding interest. A rustic bench, made by a local carpenter, is highlighted by a mass of Clematis montana growing on the fence around it. There are very few bare spaces or gaps. “I have to decorate everything” she says. “Trying things out doesn’t make for a low maintenance garden but there are endless possibilities to enjoy.” With a careful eye, Jacqui has ensured her garden was constructed in a way which means she can still enjoy it, even when she’s in the house. “I don’t watch TV, and tend to sit in the kitchen or garden room to relax, reading and looking out. Even at night, when the light is on the patio, I can still appreciate my space. It’s a spiritual place for me, and brings a life-affirming feeling I can’t imagine being without.”

A focal point, a link between areas or a frame for a view, arches have SO MANY USES

One of Liz Wells’ favourite features in her garden is the view looking back to her house which is framed by a wooden arch. It’s one of a number of clever design tricks Liz and husband Will have employed to transform their long, narrow garden from a straight ‘corridor’ to a plot with plenty of inviting twists and turns. Arches are a quick, simple and cost-effective way to add visual interest to your garden, and are especially suitable for smaller plots as they take up so little space. The trick is knowing where to place one for maximum effect. It’s never a good idea to plonk it in a random spot. Work out first what its purpose will be. Is it a way of guiding you along a path, or perhaps it marks the entrance to a particular section of your garden? Arches can play tricks on the eyes. You can use one to magnify a special feature like a statue or dramatic plant or, placed over a path, they will give the impression of a larger space. Alternatively, arches can simply be placed flush against a wall, with a seat underneath to create a secluded arbour-style seating area.

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Metal arches are usually used to support climbing plants. They can span paths and consist of an ironwork frame with cross pieces. They’re available to buy in kit form or, if you have a larger budget, they can be made to order (try www., where ready made arches start at about £150 and bespoke ones are considerably more). The advantage of metal is that it is strong, will not rot and requires little maintenance. It can be made to look elegant or rustic. The disadvantage is that it’s expensive to have one custom made, and the cheaper kits can be flimsy. Timber arches are more solid, so will be more visible and therefore make more of a statement than their metal counterparts. They are versatile, because they can be painted or stained to fit with your garden scheme, and can be curved or flat-topped. They are generally cheaper to buy, even if you are looking for a bespoke one. Wooden arches look appealing when they’re twined with climbing plants but, equally, you can use them as a standalone feature, without further dressing up. The downside of timber is that it will need regular repainting to stop rot, and even if it is thoroughly maintained, it will have a finite lifespan of about 10 years.


Once you have decided where to site the arch, it needs to be secured so it will not topple over in the wind. Slim, strong metal uprights can usually be pushed far enough into the ground to be made secure, but heavy wooden structures may need to have the posts set into concrete. Post supports, available from DIY stores, are useful for this purpose (£19.44,


Climbing plants that are grown in containers can be planted at any time of year, except when the soil is frozen or waterlogged. Autumn is an especially good time to plant shrubs in the ground because the soil is still warm from summer, which means their roots will grow before the winter comes. This helps the climber become strong for the next season, and to withstand any dry spells in summer 2020.


@The aim is to plant a climber at the same depth as its pot. First, water it thoroughly and allow it to drain. Ease it out of the container. @Tease out any roots that are curling up around the main root ball. @Position the plant in the hole and then lean it towards the bottom of the arch at a 45° angle. This will encourage the shoots to grow towards it. Now, fill in the sides, firming the soil gently as you go. Once the hole is full, press it down, again firmly, but without squashing too hard so as not to damage the roots. @Water in with a full can. Cover with a layer of mulch, such as bark chippings, to prevent moisture loss. @If the plant came with a support, gently untie it, and then re-fix all the stems to the cross poles or supports on the arch. Use Garden Soft-Tie to attach (£3.99,

With its hidden alcoves and twists and turns, it’s hard to believe that this garden is less than four metres wide. “It appears narrow at the outset, but as you walk along the path, it seems wider because you can’t see it all at once,” says owner Liz Wells, who has created the space with her husband Will. Adding to the illusion are boundary fences which are carefully built up with climbing plants, trees and shrubs, none of which take up much space. The couple first saw their three-bedroom terraced, Victorian cottage in Berkshire in 2008. “Our previous garden had been only slightly wider, so I knew we could do something with this,” recalls Liz, an actor, whose love of gardening stems from her childhood. They moved in during August. The long lawned plot was totally exposed to the neighbours and the elements, apart from a large sycamore tree which overshadowed the far end. Over the winter, plans for the garden evolved as Liz envisaged possible layouts based upon a series of intimate, outdoor living spaces.

How to Transformed A Featureless Plot Into A Garden Of Surprises Photo Gallery

“I had this idea of creating secret living spaces, with patios in various spots, linked by a decked path so that they were slightly hidden, but easily accessible,” she explains. The plot is north facing, so Liz carefully noted where the sun fell at different times of the day, before settling on three separate seating areas. She planned sofas near the kitchen for the morning sun and, to catch the evening sunlight, a paved patio with a dining table at the far end, partly obscured by a large phormium. “Once summer’s here, we always eat out, and the patio heater adds another month once the weather turns cooler.” The third seating area in the middle is situated beneath a pergola clad in ivy and clematis, that casts shade throughout the day. As Liz sketched out ideas, Will, a retired chartered engineer and trained draftsman, drew each to scale to check it would work. “Although I’ve a reasonable eye for measurements, I’m not precise, and where space is limited, there’s little margin for error,” explains Liz. They also took care choosing the hard landscaping materials, ensuring just three different surfaces. Any more, and they felt that the garden would not seem unified. Once the final design was drawn, Will built all the structures, including the pergola and planked path that sidesteps down the garden. “We’re a good team,” notes Liz, “because we each work to our strengths with little crossover.”

How to Plan Your Best Garden


Working with timber is one of Will’s passions, but he admits that building the wooden slatted path was both challenging and time-consuming. “It was hard work, so I built it in sections at weekends because I was still working full time.” He first laid a weed-proof membrane, before installing concrete foundations to support a sturdy timber framework. “Since it’s an odd shape, it’s the only part of the design that I worked out on the ground as I went along.” It is laid on level ground, since the garden’s gentle slope is terraced, with two steps near each end. Once the path was laid in full, the focus shifted to planting the borders on each side. “I like to have everything yesterday, whereas Will’s happy to have it in a couple of weeks.

We bought mature trees and shrubs so we didn’t have to wait for them to grow!” says Liz. They chose beautiful specimens such as Magnolia grandiflora, dense clumps of bamboo, a Chusan Palm, spiky New Zealand flax, miniature pine tree and box balls from Architectural Plants, a specialist nursery that not only supplied but also planted the borders. In addition, there are several large rhododendrons. These need acid soil and the garden is alkaline, so they were planted in ericaceous soil in large pots which were submerged in the borders. The emphasis is on evergreen plants that create a lovely view from the kitchen window, even in winter. “I didn’t want bare twigs and earth to look out on,” says Liz. “Many gardeners don’t mind and want to follow the seasons as leaves fall or buds unfurl, but I prefer year-round interest.” Initially, the Wells’ lost several prize specimens to harsh frosts, but as the plants have become better established, they seem to be hardier, surviving mild winters without need of protection. Some did not settle in their first position — the cherry has so far been moved three times.

Designing a Garden


“A garden should never be static, and you shouldn’t be afraid to move things around, but if something is obviously unhappy, don’t worry – just replace it. Even professional gardeners have their failures,” Liz advises. Other plants are grown in pots, adding great flexibility. “When a bare patch developed on a fence because the ivy had not grown, we simply moved a potted camellia in front of it.” With its mature evergreens, decked walkway and borders mulched to suppress weeds, this is a relatively low maintenance garden. “I’ve done a lot of gardening in my time, and I wanted to keep this as easy as possible,” says Liz. She has succeeded, starting on a decked patio immediately outside the kitchen with what, at first glance, appears to be lawn, but closer inspection reveals to be artificial grass. “It doesn’t need feeding or mowing, we simply hoover up any debris. There is also a piped watering system, a godsend in hot summers because it takes an hour by hand to water the garden, which is essential because any plants below the fence quickly dry out.” Other maintenance is restricted to regularly snipping back wayward branches to prevent crowding the path, dead-heading and removing yellowing leaves. “And the path has to be painted each year!”

The calming sound of a gushing fountain fills every corner. “I like noise around me when I work, but Will prefers silence and he finds the fountain a bit noisy, especially at breakfast time!” The idea of a white water fountain came from a public park in Lille, France. “There was this huge fountain splurging up white, as opposed to clear, water,” recalls Liz. Back at home, an electrical supply for pump and lighting was installed at the outset of the redesign. The feature required a large hole to house the water tank and electric pump which was then covered in a metal grill that supports the sandstone rocks. “I love to watch the water splashing onto the rocks, and running down in different directions,” she says. Both the water feature and lighting are controlled from a switch in the house. “Lighting is an absolute must, the garden is magical at night.” While there is much about the garden to enjoy, several aspects stand out. “It’s lovely just wandering through, appreciating how well it has all come to fruition, especially in spring when the azaleas are a blaze of colour,” says Liz. Best of all, though, she likes sitting at the far end and looking back towards the house, framed by the arch and pergola. “It’s a completely new vista, like waking up and finding yourself in a different room!”

Best Gardening Tips – How to Create a Beautiful Yard


As Liz and Will Wells discovered with their Berkshire garden, evergreen plants are the gift that keeps on giving. When autumn wind and rain set in, the glorious glossy green leaves hold fast, lending multi-textured interest to borders and beds. And in the depths of winter, those vibrant shades look even more gorgeous with a dusting of frost. In Britain, we are lucky as we have a huge range of evergreens to choose from, in all shapes and sizes, but selecting the right one for your space needs some careful thought about the job you want it to do, as David Chanell, of Outdoor Living Garden Services (www., points out: “In a small garden, the backbone and structure of the planting needs to work hard and create interest throughout the seasons. This doesn’t mean your evergreens need to be just a boring green backdrop, though.

The huge range of variegated, architectural and flowering specimens out there can give your garden appeal all year round.” David uses the staying power of the evergreen to make his gardens shapely, and provide that all important green skeleton for winter interest: “Evergreen shrubs are really effective when used in repetition to give the garden rhythm and flow because, without their height and structure, a border can become very flat. If you can add plenty of variety of evergreen foliage in your outside space you have the recipe for a successful garden design.”


Most evergreens are happy with autumn or spring planting, but it’s not a good idea to plant them out in the middle of winter. If they’re to live in a pot, be sure that the roots don’t get waterlogged with winter rains. Give the shrub or tree a big drink of water before you plant it, to make sure the rootball is thoroughly soaked. It’s not essential to dig a really deep hole for evergreen shrubs, as their roots spread widely rather than deeply. Just be sure the hole is deep enough to keep the rootball covered, and dig the hole much wider than the roots. Many gardeners swear by digging a square hole rather than a round one, as the roots find it easier to spread into the corners. Before you plant your shrub, loosen the earth at the base of the hole with a fork to allow for adequate drainage when watering in. Mix in a little soil improver, such as farmyard manure (£4.99 for 50 litres, with the soil you use to backfill the hole, and then water your shrub in well.


We’re all keen to keep the green in our gardens in the winter, so it’s tempting to buy a fastgrowing filler that will cover fences and bare earth until spring flowers arrive to cheer us up. Some speedy greenery, however, can run riot in a small garden. Most people know to steer clear of the galloping growth rate of the Leyland cypress, but seemingly innocent evergreen groundcover perennials, such as common periwinkle, can take over a border and suffocate the other flowering plants unless it’s kept in check regularly. Lusty evergreen Clematis armandii, with its big pointy leaves, can grow into a heavy thicket that can break a pergola, even though its sweet-scented flowers are a joy. Cherry laurel, too, can run rampant if it’s not clipped into submission regularly.