Green Living Spaces

This new category of show garden proved that no matter how tiny your plot, it can be both beautiful and productive. Here are our favourite ideas to take inspiration from

Four beautiful and distinctive gardens offered plenty of inspiration for gardening in small spaces. From the clever use of recycled household objects to make seats and planters in Outside Number 39 to outdoor shelving laden with micro-herbs in At Home – Grow, Dine and Relax, these gardens proved that growing your own can make a garden beautiful as well as providing bountiful harvests for the table. Here's our pick of the ideas to steal from each garden:

At Home – Grow, Dine and Relax

In this garden, water butts were cleverly disguised with slim planks of wood arranged vertically around them, and capillary matting to wick the moisture up into planters above containing herbs and fig trees. Copper slug tape added metallic highlights to black drainpipes and low-cost garden furniture was fashioned from old oil drums and a cable reel. Using a limited palette of colours and materials kept the design cohesive and made it look more expensive. Many parts of this garden were bought in high street shops, DIY stores and supermarkets.

Micro herbs make an ideal starter plant for busy people who are new to gardening – they don’t need much care, and if you forget to water them you can just sow some more! Borage, pea shoots, red cabbage and coriander all look great and taste good too.

“You can use ordinary, everyday items and plants from ordinary shops to create something really special – just keep it simple” says designer Anne Keenan.


The Urban Escape

A simple yet bold approach to hard landscaping underpinned this garden with the large-format paving slabs also being used to make the planters. Using plain, pale paving and unadorned concrete walls gave the intricate shapes of the plants a chance to shine. 

Cottage garden favourites rubbed shoulders with more exotic plants such as the orange tree – “It’s my favourite edible plant in this garden,” says designer Sebastian Conrad. “The scent of its flowers, its nutritious fruit and the ease it brings to the garden.” So if space is limited and you want to grow your own, why not pick an edible plant like the orange that’s beautiful too?

Outside Number 39

Recycling can be super-smart and save you cash! The chairs in this garden were made from the legs of old school chairs found at a reclaims yard for 50p each, combined with salvaged bathtubs, edged with copper piping from a builder’s merchant. Having such narrow chairlegs works really well in a confined area – as you can still see the floor through them so they don’t block the space. 

Designer Elaine Portch’s background as an art teacher was evident in the clever use of colour – carefully-coordinated silvery zinc and aluminium containers were set off beautifully by zingy red accents from chair legs, chard, cushions and a coffee pot.

The Salad Deck

“It just goes to show you don’t need a veg plot to grow veg” says Andy Bending. You don’t need a huge garden either – this plot was full of space-saving ideas like a wall with in-built troughs to give an edible, vertical garden brimming with herbs, lettuces and strawberries. Trained fruit trees – such as the espaliered apple that appeared in this garden – also help maximise yields in a small space.

Inspired by Incredible Edible projects in the UK and the Food Not Lawns project in the USA, Andy’s message is clear - “anyone can grow.”

See all other Malvern Spring Show Gardens

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.