The win­ner of the Peo­ple’s Choice Gar­den of the Year

An as­ton­ish­ing 3,781 of you voted to crown Richard Small’s tiny court­yard the win­ner of our Peo­ple’s Choice vote

Gardeners' World - - Contents -

Richard Small Tyne & Wear Gar­den size 3.2m x 6.6m + 1.9m x 2.5m

Many peo­ple would have dis­missed the bare con­crete yard as too small to do any­thing with, but not Richard. He saw past the gloom and flak­ing paint to vi­su­alise the calm­ing, plant-filled oa­sis that it would be­come. He has spent the past 22 years cre­at­ing it, painstak­ingly car­ing for the plants, which are all grown in pots. The judges were so im­pressed by the co­he­sion and re­strained colour pal­ette that he only nar­rowly missed out on be­ing Highly Com­mended.

So re­fresh­ing! I love the way he’s fo­cused on green. He’s cre­ated rhythm by group­ing plants of dif­fer­ent heights

Alan Titch­marsh

What you have done to make the gar­den?

First, I re­pointed the walls and painted them white to make the space feel brighter. Then I laid ter­ra­cotta-coloured tiles and gravel over the ex­ist­ing con­crete. From there, the gar­den has evolved over the past 22 years, con­stantly be­ing added to. The con­crete means that the whole gar­den has to be grown in con­tain­ers, with noth­ing ac­tu­ally in the ground. I’m a bit of a pot ob­ses­sive, al­ways try­ing to squeeze in one more plant or con­tainer! My other ob­ses­sion is so­lar-pow­ered wa­ter fea­tures − I’ve got sev­eral around the gar­den, which come on at dif­fer­ent times as the sun moves around. This year, in­spired by Princess Diana’s white gar­den at Kens­ing­ton Palace, I de­cided to limit the plant­ing to all white flow­ers, and I plan to build on this next year.

What have been the big­gest chal­lenges?

Vine wee­vils! Sev­eral years ago I lost a num­ber of plants due to the hor­ri­ble crit­ters. Ini­tially I re­sorted to chem­i­cal treat­ments to tackle them, how­ever, for the past two years I’ve been keep­ing the blighters at bay with ne­ma­todes – plus the oc­ca­sional evening foray to hunt out and re­move any adult bee­tles. It’s an on­go­ing bat­tle, as plants in con­tain­ers are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble. I have to keep up the treat­ments oth­er­wise their num­bers can build up again, and it’s easy to rein­tro­duce them if they’re lurk­ing in the soil or com­post around new plants.

What are you most proud of?

It’s my own lit­tle oa­sis. I’m proud of how much I’ve man­aged to fit into such a small space. I love the green­ness and the feel­ing of calm it pro­vides. I also like how the gar­den evolves, as I come up with new ideas and there are oc­ca­sional ed­its to al­low for the ar­rival of new plants.

What do you love most about your gar­den?

I love that wher­ever you look, there’s some­thing of in­ter­est tucked away among the fo­liage. My favourite place is sit­ting on the bench, with a cup of tea, sur­vey­ing the gar­den from there. Although this never lasts long as, in­vari­ably, I’ll spot some­thing that needs a bit of a nip and tuck.

This epit­o­mises green­ing grey Bri­tain. It’s clear how much work is re­quired to keep it go­ing

Kate Gould

1 Light­ing brings the gar­den to life in the evenings 2 A pal­ette of all-white flow­ers, in­clud­ing al­li­ums, fox­gloves, lo­belia and lupins, cre­ates a calm­ing ef­fect 3 Ter­ra­cotta-coloured tiles and gravel pro­vides a link be­tween the gar­den and the house brick­work

Richard’s bench is painted to match the win­dows, other gar­den fur­ni­ture and sev­eral pots

De­cem­ber 2018

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