When my daughter asked for help to decide what to put in the skinny strip between the garage and the sidewalk to her front door, I was at a loss. Never before had I planned a garden that would be less than 12 inches deep, but close to 20 feet wide. Garden Gate Magazine's new book, GREAT GARDENS, SOLUTIONS FOR SMALL SPACES was exactly the help I needed, and if you have a small yard or a corner or need help with curb appeal, it may help you, too. A review follows:
The 98 pages of Great Gardens, Solutions for Small Spaces are divided into sections for typical small problem areas you might have in your garden: Foundations, Island Beds, Corners, Narrow Spaces and Patio & Decks. I particularly liked that built into these chapters are design lessons on Scale, Focal Points, Repetition, Going Vertical and Containers. I believe that the design of a tight gardening spot is even more important than in a larger garden, and the lessons are given in a very understandable way, something that even I can do without needing professional help.
"No Space is Too Small for a Spectacular Garden" shouts the cover. Well, I'm from the Show-Me-State of Missouri. I put myself in the shoes of friends who live in attached villas with small patios. What can you really do with that little space besides a few pots? As in the other chapters, they guided me from what I wanted from this patio to getting the finished look, and they are solutions you can really live with, not the "far out" examples I've seen on some of the TV shows.
How to plant your foundation was another great chapter, starting with the bones of the foundation plants, then adding the interest and color. It helps identify your style, formal, informal, cottage, etc. My foundation plantings are fairly tame, green holly and pink knock out roses, bones with good repetition. In Great Gardens, Solutions for Small Spaces, I've discovered I have no meat on the bones. As time allows, I'm going to use the suggestions I found to add some fragrance near the windows, and add plantings that will make the front door a focal point. These are the pieces missing that should take my front yard from okay to special.
Now for that long and skinny garden for my daughter. Number one will be some height to break up the LONG blank wall of the garage, maybe a trellis (or more) with a vine that can be kept in bounds, like this one built by the husband of DG member Pirl. We will vary the plant height, not march the same plant down the whole length. As suggested in this chapter, we will be looking for some varieties of shrubs that grow tall but can be kept thin, like the columnar spruce. It will be hard for my daughter who likes straight and even rows, but we will let a bit of the plants spill on to the edge of the walk, and we will repeat some of the colors and plants on pots on the front porch to draw your eye away from the long walk to the front door.
Like all good gardening books, there are lovely pictures. The pictures in this book are very good examples of the topic at hand, not just pictures for the sake of pictures. Plants are suggested for attracting butterflies, birds, and fragrance. The book also includes links to the Garden Gate web site to slide shows that expand on the ideas presented. This is a cool feature! This book will be of great help to the owner of a small yard, a connected home and the renter.
One negative; plants are listed without Latin Names. For many serious gardeners, this is a major drawback.
Thanks to Garden Gate Magazine for the cover art, and Pirl for the trellis picture. I have no financial relationship with this company.
About Cathy M Wallace
I'm rediscovering the joy of being in the garden, playing in the compost, remembering gardens from my childhood and dreaming of those to come. Physical challenges are helping me learn all about raised beds, lasagna gardening and new tools. In addition to our yard, my husband and I take care of several gardens at church. We love our family, friends, travel, writing & laughing.