Su­per­sized ideas for small gar­dens

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Front Page -

Green-fin­gered ur­ban­ites re­sort to all kinds of so­lu­tions for lack of grow­ing space. Alice Vin­cent has tried most of them, in­clud­ing how to ‘macra­make’

Ss­mall-space gar­den­ers are en­cour­aged to re­sort to all kinds of ver­ti­cal ven­tures. I have gar­dened since only re­cently on a bal­cony in south Lon­don and have scoured end­less sources for prac­ti­cal, useful ideas on how to get more plants per square inch. I’ve found that the same re­ceived wis­dom goes around and around, and only a small per­cent­age makes any sense.

In­spi­ra­tional de­sign and in­te­ri­ors web­sites of­ten salute the idea of a se­ries of glass shelves that run across win­dows for plants to sit on. While Ikea main­tains it can pro­vide the win­dow shelves to make it hap­pen, it doesn’t take into ac­count the fact that many good house­plants don’t like di­rect sunlight very much.

The pal­let planter is a con­tem­po­rary favourite that does the rounds on­line: DIY blogs en­cour­age readers to turn a wooden pal­let into a ver­ti­cal herb gar­den with the aid of some land­scape fabric and a sta­ple gun. It looks and sounds invit­ing, but I’ve wit­nessed the sad, crispy re­sults in east Lon­don bar gar­dens. And even if they are wa­tered, herbs (which mostly like sun­shine) don’t like be­ing shoved to the bot­tom of a wooden box.

I’ve also strug­gled to find success with the planters that, wa­ter reser­voir and all, can be sus­pended from the ceil­ing – al­though plenty of shop win­dows sug­gest this is pos­si­ble. I sus­pect that the reser­voirs sim­ply aren’t large enough to make any dif­fer­ence to the plant – es­pe­cially if you for­get to add the wa­ter.

The prob­lem is th­ese projects can be ex­pen­sive to ex­per­i­ment with and, iron­i­cally, take up quite a lot of room. But there are ideas that can help make the most of a small grow­ing space.

Macrame is par­tic­u­larly ap­peal­ing – I joined a work­shop to try out this crafty Seven­ties throw­back. See the re­sults (pic­tured left) and my re­port over­leaf. Whether you’re grow­ing plants in­side or out, if they’re in a con­tainer, the big­gest chal­lenge you’ll come up against is

View from the bal­cony: Alice Vin­cent wa­ters her pots, top; macrame pot hold­ers in the win­dow of Con­ser­va­tory Ar­chives, left

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