Would you say that we have become uncertified garden designers? Well, you may have seen, we have transformed our parents’ typical London garden and this blog post is all about the reveal. Before I share more on how we did it, I want to give you a little dow low on it all.
Covid had very few benefits and one for us was the ability to transform our garden. My mother stayed with us from February due to health issues, lockdown came at such a time as this! She babysat whilst John and I literally raced through the garden transformation.
My mother was so impressed that she forewarned us that she would need her garden done as a matter of urgency. I knew it needed some TLC. My childhood memories of the garden mainly consisted of a never fruiting apple tree, red tiles and unvisited areas within the garden. It was kind of dingy. It was time to say au revoir to its red past, and say bonjour to a new era. Mum has impeccable taste. Fussy and armed with the skill of colour matching, I asked her what she would like.
“Any thing you want, Esther, you know best” was her reply. I knew best that wouldn’t wash down because boy, if I was to do anything other than excellence, mama won’t take it kindly. So, I had to put on my event planning cap, ask her basic questions and even that was nearly futile. However, this spec came out: grey, low maintenance, and literally lots of growing space. Armed with an initial budget of £200, we managed expectations with mum. She wanted raised beds pretty much around the perimeter of the garden, low maintenance layout and grey. The reality was that the garden was very red, high maintenance and had no raised beds at all. This needed funds. With that, we spent £1000+ which consisted mainly of reclaimed wood, soil, manure, nails, gravel, rose arch, some furniture from Ikea and the charity shops.
This is how The Grands garden project came about.
This is how it looked prior to our 24 hour garden transformation! The garden is a little on the smaller side, or so it seemed to the naked eye. Frankly, I grew up loved here, but the garden needed a LOT of love. It had good bones, however, the floor wasn’t level, causing the area where the apple tree was situated to be constantly damp. There wasn’t any coherent planting plan, and looked small. If money wasn’t a hindrance, it would have been coming out. Money, money, money, is a problem…, so we have to keep some of the preexisting garden features in.
I went down the Pinterest rabbit hole to find inspiration for The Grands Garden, mainly searching for lots of raised beds in a small area. To be honest, I found very little. The ones I did find needed landscaping and it was hard to be inspired to replicate something of the sort in this garden on a very limited budget. However, there were gardens I absolutely loved during the process.
THE PLAN AND PURCHASE LIST
Armed with good old paper and pencil, I changed the layout to include a seating area and a planting area. I really wanted the planting area to be inviting, so this brought about the rose arch. I believed that the rose arch is an invitation to ‘come and see’. And mind you… it works (our longest family friend who practically lives in my parents walked through the arch into the part of the garden that she has never seen in about 20 years!)!!
The budget was super low. I had to scout several charity shops over a few days, picking items that mum loved. Consequently, we couldn’t find everything and that’s the beauty of home, it takes time. The right pieces will meet you at the right time.
Mum wanted the raised beds painted black, but we felt it was going to be too stark for the space, considering the windows in the house was brown, walls white and grey floor. Little Greene gifted us this beautiful green, Obsidian Green which, this colour helped compensate for the lack of trees in this garden, adding warmth to the grey. It was colour perfection. I believe it will complement the garden through all seasons, whether the beds are stark or filled with produce.
Next up was getting reclaimed timber and I will be writing a whole post on raised beds, how we build ours, both here and in our garden. I will talk about filling it and what we did and got pretty abundant fruit and veg growth in the first year!
A few tips to make a smaller garden seem a bit bigger. on a low budget:
- Embrace the size.
- Have as many things off the wall such as the washing line. We actually put a wall hung washing line which closes away.
- The less colours, the better on the floor.
- A wall mirror helps to bounce reflection.
Here is the Purchase list:
- Rose Arch / Homesense / on sale for £40
- Bell Wall Sculpture / Homesense / on sale for £30
- Iron Plant Stakes / Homesense / on sale for 5 for £20
- Greek Style Amphora / Reclamation Yard / £10
- Hammered Planter / Homesense / on sale for £20
- Zinc Style Planers / Homesense / Various from £7
- Marble Centre Table / British Heart Foundation / £20
- Console Table to be used as potting stand / British Heart Foundation / £20
- Dove Grey Gravel / Wickes / £3 a pack
- Grey Masonry Paint / ToolsStation / 10lts for £30
- Bistro Table and chair / Ikea /
- Outdoor Lanterns / Ikea / £7 Each
- Wall hung Clothes Airer / Amazon / £155 (currently on sale for £124)
- Shade plants for under the bench / Local Garden Centre / £50
DIY Cost list
- Outdoor Mirror / £ 60
- Bench / £30
NOW THE REVEAL
I would say this garden is 80% completed. We did all we did in less than 24 hours. Secretly, I never thought we could actually do. So, I am pretty impressed with it all and super grateful to God for good weather, amazing family who came and helped and anything else that worked well do make this a success.
So here is the garden…
My mum and dad have been remarkable as grand parents and doing this for them was a honour and privilege. I am so happy with the outcome and more importantly, my parents are OVER THE MOON.