A high-impact slice of Jamaica in the city
Wayne Amiel London Garden size 6.5m x 13.5m
A north-facing site, full of builders’ rubble, on a different level to the ground-floor of the house, is what faced Wayne Amiel when he moved into his home in south London, eight years ago. Undeterred by the scale of the challenge, he was determined to create a little slice of his Jamaican childhood in the narrow garden. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, buying the house meant there was little money left to spend on the garden, so the whole thing was done on a shoe-string budget, when funds allowed.
What have you done to make the garden?
The first thing I had to do was get rid of the mound of rubble, and level the main area of the garden. New steps were added, from the back doors up to the garden, as being on a hill means the garden is on a different level to the house. These steps are now covered in pots of colourful plants and I call it my ‘theatre of plants’. I added a patio area towards the back of the garden as, being north facing, that’s the only area that gets any real sun. Because I had such a limited budget, I initially covered most of the garden with turf, so that the garden could evolve as funds permitted. Some of the first plants I put in the garden were some small trees as, in a small garden, I think it’s really important to add height. I’ve also made use of vertical spaces with climbing plants. There’s a wide range of plants in the garden, but I’ve also tried to create cohesion, by repeating certain plants, like the Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’. I’ve also had lighting installed, so I can spend more time enjoying the garden in the evenings, when I get home from work.
How have you stretched your budget?
I started skip diving, hoping to find containers and other things I might be able to reuse around the garden, and was astonished to find people throwing plants out. I’ve found all sorts, including a gorgeous purple lilac and a tree fern! I’ve also grown lots of plants from seeds and cuttings.
What have been the biggest challenges?
Making a garden on a limited budget and wanting a north-facing garden to remind me of my Jamaican childhood. And, for reasons that I’ve not been able to solve, areas of my garden are waterlogged. I’ve overcome this by planting bog plants, such as ferns, gunnera, ligularia and arum lilies.
What do you love most about your garden?
I love the exuberant drama of my garden, and the total disregard for anything that could be deemed fashionable! I call it Clapham meets Jamaica, where bamboos, tree ferns and fire-bright plants, bed down happily amid the traditional cottage garden plants.
Wow! This is a man with lots of vision – it’s a busy garden but he’s got the balance just right. I love it Kate Gould
Builders’ rubble makes way for lush planting After Enormous leaves and bold foliage create a cleverly-crafted jungle feel – it’s all about plants Painted chairs provide an intimate seating area that also acts as a stylish focal point Dots of colour add highlights of interest – Wayne uses these througout the tiny garden