Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Be Bold in Small Spaces; Alex Mitchell Visits a Chelsea Winner's Compact Family Garden in Battersea

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Be Bold in Small Spaces; Alex Mitchell Visits a Chelsea Winner's Compact Family Garden in Battersea

Article excerpt

Byline: Alex Mitchell

GARDEN DESIGN is a popular second career, but not every budding Capability Brown sketches their first garden plans in a military tent in the desert. Former Scots Guard Jonathan Snow supplemented security work in Iraq and Afghanistan by creating planting plans for anyone who asked when he was back in the UK. Now he has two RHS Chelsea Show Garden medals.

Back at home in Battersea with his wife Birgit and young daughter Flora, the designer has packed his tiny 5x5m garden and even smaller roof terrace with plants to make a tranquil, leafy refuge. "It's a small space, but my aim was to be surrounded by greenery," he says. He's certainly achieved it. For anyone who doesn't want to leave home to get a fix of the green stuff, Snow's garden has plenty of great ideas.

As with many London houses, sliding doors mean the garden is in full view, so it's a great opportunity for creating something fabulous to look at. "A classic mistake is to have measly beds around the edge and leave a big, blank space in the middle. Be bold with the depth of the beds -- 1.2 metres at least if you can -- and fill them with plants, it will make your garden feel bigger when you're sitting in it," Snow advises.

Choose the right furniture Forget large dining tables. "It's just the two of us and our daughter most of the time," says Snow. Here, two comfortable wicker Ikea chairs create a tempting newspaperreading spot either side of a small round table. Real wicker won't last forever, but Snow gave these a coat of varnish and leaves them out uncovered all year. They're going strong after three seasons.

Plant power In a space this small plants that flower only for a couple of weeks don't make the grade. Instead Snow rates those such as lavender Hidcote, thalictrum delavayi, giant hyssop, hydrangea Lanarth White and salvia Amistad that will keep flowering for months. "The fewer species of plant you have in a garden the more impact they will have. Avoid buying one of anything unless it's a large shrub or tree. …

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