Though town and city gardens are quite small as rule, they also have many advantages such as being more sheltered and warmer (as a result of buildings and tarmacadam retaining heat during the day and much like storage heaters, releasing this stored heat into the garden by night). They also require less maintenance by the very fact that there is less space needing attention.
As space is at a premium in town gardens plants and features must earn their keep. Walls, fences and so on should also be used effectively. In other-words garden both on the ground (horizontally) and on the walls etc (vertically) to capitalise on the reduced amount of space available. Balconies, patios and window ledges offer other suitable locations for plants.
Shade caused by near-by buildings and overhanging trees can be a mixed blessing but remember that there are plants available that will grow in such conditions and sitting in the shade on warm summer days can be very pleasant so accept the conditions that you have and garden with them.
If your garden tends to be overly shaded, choosing colourful pots and reflective materials for pathways and walls will relieve dullness and gloominess. Water, mirrors, painted doors and so on can also be introduced for extra character and sources of brightness.
Pollution can be problem in cities and towns but the good news is that plants are very successful at cleaning the air creating healthier environments. Conifer/evergreen trees reduce noise and light pollution and a must have in town gardens.
Before planting your town garden or small garden area, you must as with any site, analyse the soil, check the direction of the sun and decide on a plan appropriate to your tastes and needs. Create good growing conditions by adding manure where necessary and ensuring sufficient soil depths for trees and shrubs.
If trees are your passion there are many suitable for smaller gardens. Consider Prunus shirotae (White Cherry), Prunus Amanagawa, Betula jacquemontii (Himalayan Birch), Betula verrucossa and Sorbus Commixta (Rowan).
Suitable shrubs would be Penstemon species, Lavandula hidcote, Potentilla Tilford Cream, Libertia ixioides, Pittosporum nana purpureum and so on. The choice is endless so take time to get some professional advice and spend a few Saturdays checking out stocks in your local garden centres.
Alpine plants such as Campanula carpatica Blue Chips, Helianthemum species, Dianthus deltoides, Arabis Snowflake etc are all very using in smaller spaces and can be planted in rockeries, borders or simply in cracks and crevices in the paved areas. As these plants, as their name suggests, come from alpine regions, plant into gritty, none too rich soil.
Plants and containers are a must have in smaller spaces. These can be planted with perennial plants, low growing shrubs, heathers or with seasonal bedding plants. There are so many container types available for sale in garden centres, from hardware shops, in discount stores and so on. Of course you can always use old buckets, chimney pots and other ‘recycled’ containers that might otherwise be discarded around the house and garden shed.
Spend time planning and then developing your small garden and I assure you that you will get lots of pleasure from your outdoor room.
Remove suckers from roses.
Liquid feed tomato and cucumber plants.
Dead head roses and perennials as flowers fade.
Plant out winter cabbage plants.
Be on insect alert.
Cover fruit bushes with netting.
Hoe between vegetables and shrubs regularly.
Stake herbaceous perennials as necessary.
Take semi-hardwood cuttings.
Tie back dahlias.
Liquid feed sweet peas every 10 days.
Harvest herbs and dry them in the hot press.
Summer prune plums and pears.
Continue removing side shoots from tomato plants.
Anne McKeon of Gum Dearg Teoranta,
Buaile Beag, Bearna, Galway operates a Garden Design & Advisory Service. Anne presents a gardening spot on Galway Bay FM radio every second Thursday morning at 10.50am approx. and writes gardening articles for various publications. To date Anne has also written two gardening books, one for adult beginner gardeners (Don’t Forget Your Shovel) and one for children (Green Acres – Hobby Gardening For Children).
Phone: – (091) 521186 (office)
087 1441623 (mobile)
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