[Inspiration] Inspiration Page – SU22 Small Gardens

Sarah’s ideas for small gardens

Taking inspiration from this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Sarah shares ideas for small gardens and urban spaces

designing without the luxury of space?

Stick to Sarah’s rules for small garden spaces for guaranteed high performance

make a jungle 

Make a jam-packed, flower-filled haven. If you have a fence or wall, plant climbers, they make tiny areas feel like they go on forever. I recommend cobaea or clematis for an instant jungle

go for whopper pots

My must-have idea number 2 is to have a family of four whopper pots to give oomph. Go as big as you can because large pots are easier to maintain. Small table centre pots are lovely, but dry out quickly in the summer heat and need to be watered morning and night, whereas large pots, you can reduce to three times a week

pick the perfect planter


putting on a show 

For rule 3, I have a useful recipe for containers with ingredients fulfilling different roles: I choose pot-suitable dahlias as my main showy flower and colour deliverer (my Thriller), a delicate, light, airy middle layer (my Filler) and a climber trained on a frame to give height (my Pillar). Also encourage the climber to trail down the sides (so acting as a Spiller too)

compost and drainage

For rule 4, polystyrene packing which can’t be recycled, 15cm deep, or crumpled up compost bags makes great drainage, and then add peat-free compost. I’ve also collected mole hills gathered on a few dog walks. This friable soil added to the compost (about one-third soil to two-thirds compost) helps both water retention and fertility

And lastly, if you’ve got room, go for one final pot combination, a 2-metre animal water trough. Propped up on bricks, with the drainage hole already in, these give you long-lasting containers large enough to grow almost anything in and surprisingly, they look as good in a city garden as they do in a farmyard. Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’, Salvia ‘Amistad’ and Panicum ‘Sparkling Fountain’ are my suggested trio.