Supersized ideas for small gardens
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