You can make the oasis – even if you don’t have the ground.
Urban life is so crowded that we often don’t have a patch of earth in which to garden. Properties are becoming smaller, houses are closer together and many people live in tiny flats. Check out a brief guide on creating a garden in a limited space.
Deck the walls
What can I plant?
• A single variety, such as pelargoniums, in a few pots against a wall, looks particularly striking
• Combinations of creepers such as ivy, pelargoniums, petunias, lobelias, nasturtiums, Sutera cordata, and Felicia are ideas for hanging baskets
• Begonias and impatiens work well against dark walls and they do not cause a lack of sleep nausea.
• Climbers such as clematis, roses, vines, and honeysuckle add a magical touch to dull walls. Break out a patch of concrete or lift a paving stone to plant the climber directly in the ground.
• Place containers on the windowsill
• Adequately secure containers and pots to the wall
• Hang baskets from wall hooks. • Place plant stands against walls
• Lead climbers up walls with trellising
• Water pots placed against a wall regularly, because walls reflect heat and dry out jars more quickly
• Surplus water should be able to drain away.
Containers are the most obvious and practical way to create a garden without a patch of earth. A shelf of echeveria and blue lobelias brightens up a wall. Use vertical spaces such as walls and boundary fences. This Lamium galeobdolon (Yellow Archangel) adds texture to a wall and has been cleverly planted in its container in a wooden frame.
Cement sculptures add an exciting touch and can be hung with industrial-strength hooks – then gracefully adorned with ivy ( Hedera helix ).
Plant climbers such as Ficus pumila and Hedera helix that cling to walls and don’t take up much space.
A Maidenhair vine ( Muehlenbeckia ) makes for an ethereal display.
Pathways, entrances, and stairs
Echeveria between paving stones adds texture while softening the geometric lines.
This small passageway between the front and back gardens becomes a bonsai lover’s gallery. Soften the pathway to the front door with fragrant sage, trailing ivy and ground covers such as Erigeron. Place potted accent plants such as aloes and topiary such as Eugenia on stairs leading to doorways.
Brightly colored seedlings of pansies and violas will cheer up any gallery.
For instance, petunias and ivy pelargoniums in containers add a festive touch to this balcony.
• Preferably use lightweight containers
• Always check the balcony’s weight-bearing capacity first
• Make sure that the balcony floor is waterproof and that there is adequate drainage
• Make sure the wall or railing is safe
• Keep the plants thinned out so that the wind can pass through
• Securely fasten climbers
• If you intend entertaining on the balcony, leave enough space for seating and movement.
• Create shade with pergolas and climbers. • Plant trees in containers. • Use a fountain, sundial, birdbath or topiary to create a focal point. • Paint walls a lighter color to create a feeling of spaciousness on a patio or in a small garden. • Add a sense of space with a wall-mounted mirror, or a tromp l’oeil mural.
This lush corner is overgrown with bougainvillea and ivy, which provide both color and shade.
A sundial acts as a focal point in this courtyard.
A sizeable ceramic pot makes a pretty water feature.
A mirror creates an illusion of space and depth.
What should I plant?
• Vegetables such as lettuce, brinjals, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, sweet peppers, radishes, beans, and gem squashes can be successfully cultivated in a small space.
• Fruits such as strawberries, peaches, cherries, grapes, lemons, olives, and citrus fruits are all suitable for containers. Containers should at least be 38-45cm deep and need full sun and good drainage.
• Create a vegetable garden in a wooden crate: line it with black plastic, punch holes in the plastic for drainage and then fill the box with compost-rich soil.
• Herbs are always useful to have on hand and look great in containers. Given enough sunlight and good drainage, you can successfully grow sage, sweet basil, mint, parsley, marjoram, mint, thyme, etc.
Turn a simple fruit crate into a flourishing vegetable garden. Press dried branches into the ground as struts for peas.