Hold General Store, Photo by Kelly Brown
City gardeners usually do not break new ground, at least not in the literal sense. The precious square metres in the open air, between intensively used and inhabited buildings, often feature old walls, rear garage walls or towering apartment buildings. To turn such spots into homely refuges is nevertheless not witchcraft. Don’t you also like to re-arrange a room? Here, too, there is a clear predetermined framework – and in fact, the urban open-air spaces are used rather than gardened.
Nevertheless, it remains a particular challenge: poor floors restrict the installation of beds, the seat needs a protective roof when foreign views from above interfere – and a sprawling walnut tree will never feel quite comfortable in the narrow courtyard.
But gardens surrounded by walls also have advantages: they give off heat in the evening, which they have stored during the day. Who has a sunny plot, can confidently plan otherwise rather demanding southern Europeans such as Bush Mallow (Lavatera) or real Laurel (Laurus). In shady courtyards, on the other hand, it is possible to try plants such as Aralie (Fatsia japonica) or Bubiköpfchen (Soleirolia) as ground cover, which is otherwise only known from mild England. Tip: smart city gardeners pay attention to a balanced ratio between year-round green plants and those that shed their foliage in autumn and thus allow winter sun rays to enter.
Whether you feel protected or crushed by the walls, is also decided by horticultural trickery: if stairs lead down to the basement, you should use narrow walls for trellises and climbers instead of creating voluminous beds or potted Gardens. A light coat of paint shows depth. Mini-gardens benefit in their effect from a few shrubs, behind which the path seemingly disappears, or from a second level, which can be lowered or elevated. Plant shrubs or hedges but never directly at the foot of walls! Up to their root area rain would hardly penetrate through the thicket.
The lighting is completely different than in wide Gardens. Walls reflect rays and immerse small garden realms in magical light. Set striking elements in scene, sometimes even a peeling piece of wall; you can leave unsightly corners to the dark as if by chance.
The sunny city garden for friends of the South
Here it smells of summer and relaxation! Despite side walls, a bright, sunny Situation results, because at the rear garden border only after some distance again residential houses stand. Due to the entwined garden structure and the elevated seating area with Pergola and climbing plants, one looks from the house on green instead of on rows of houses; conversely, passers-by are denied the insight.
Stepped decks of varying heights combine to form a gourmet island with a beautiful view and barbecue area, the gravel crunches pleasantly under your feet. The Southern – looking white painted wall with bricks conceals an unsightly wall. A wine maple (Acer circinatum) offers guests on its round bench not only visual protection from above: it also forms a shady corner near the House – ideal for the velvet hydrangea. In the typical Mediterranean potted garden, Sleeping Beauty, lavender tall trunks, Rosemary, gentian shrub, hibiscus or steppe sage give their rendezvous, the gravel path in the rear scent garden is flanked by lavender and pillow thyme. Column junipers, for example the variety ‘Stricta’, are amazingly similar to the not quite winter-hardy Cypress. While a summer lilac in the nearby perennial bed obscures neighbor’s greenhouse, clematis and Grapevine conquer the Pergola.