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Entries in small space gardening (2)


Grow 250 Plants in a 600 Square Feet Space!

Big Gardens in Small Spaces, Martyn Cox, Timber Press

Welcome to the very small but plant-packed garden of Martyn Cox. This respected horticulturist, journalist, prolific garden writer, and editor grows over 250 plants in a tiny city garden that measures only 600 square feet. This he accomplishes by including every inch of unused but usable space into his planting scheme, so that shady corners, flat roofs of tool sheds, window-sills, wall crevices, and cracks in the pavement become places to grow plants.

The author firmly believes that having a small back yard is not an excuse for not having a garden. To prove it, he invites us into his own and demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that beautiful gardens can grow anywhere, no matter how confined the space.

A view of the author's compact garden in JuneAccording to this author, the essential ingredient is an understanding how to manipulate plants. For example, a tiny garden need not contain only compact and dwarf varieties, By pruning large leafed plants or by harnessing their growth by putting them in a pot, and by training plants to grow against wires, one can grow large plants and trees in a small plot.

Here are a few of the many ideas that the reader will discover in Mr. Cox’s book:-  A narrow side path from the front of the house to the back can become a sanctuary for shade plants, metal balcony railings can be covered with planters filled with annual flower. The flat roof of a garden shed will grow creeping sedum and chives, while vegetables may be grown in pots, or tucked into remaining gaps between ornamental plants.

Another perspective of Mr. Cox's gardenBy adding horizontal wires or a trellis, walls, fences, vertical surfaces can support fruit-bearing climbing plants or hold the branches of compact forms of fruit trees. A gap at the edge of a path will grow herbs. Even homeowners with mostly shady gardens are encouraged to grow edible plants. Here, the reader will learn which salad ingredients, herbs, and fruit will grow in shade.

In a discussion on the role of color in the garden, we are urged to consider the physiological effects that colors have upon homeowners. We learn that too many colors create a feeling of chaos, we are shown how one might create a colorful garden with a restricted palette, and we are taught about the soothing effect of the color green.

Larger vertical plants in the author's tiny garden.For homeowners who feel that they are unable to create proper plant combinations, the author’s treatment of this topic is priceless. Readers will learn that some of the most effective plant combinations occur when a plant self seeds or when a gardener brings home an attractive plant and places it just anywhere in the garden. The author advises that because these haphazard or serendipitous compositions are successful, one should not be too concerned about the placement of plants. What matters most is that the homeowner is pleased with the results.

However, for those who wish to fine-tune the plant combinations in their garden, Mr. Cox shares with us the success he has had with two specific plants that seem to integrate well with almost all others in his garden. Their color, shape, and form make them versatile companions.

The book is rounded out with a] practical advice for maintaining the garden wherein the author reminds the reader that small gardens require less maintenance than larger ones and b] the list. Yes, the author lists all 250 plants that he grows in his tiny 600 square feet plot. When readers examine in detail the photos of his garden, they will understand how easy it is to achieve such a goal.

Mr. Cox is an enthusiastic gardener. He shares his positive approach in a friendly, intimate manner and includes spot-on photos of other people’s small gardens to illustrate some of his gardening tricks. Most importantly, using candid photos, he invites us onto his property to appreciate how he transformed his small space into a big garden. Readers with tiny back yards are bound to be inspired.



How to Grow Food and Flowers on a Balcony: a book review

Small-Space Container Gardens: Transform Your Balcony, Porch, or Patio with Fruit, Flowers, Foliage & Herbs, Fern Richardson, Timber Press.

One doesn’t need a yard in order to garden. In the equal-opportunity world that many of us inhabit, anyone who wishes to grow plants ought to be able to do so, no matter where they reside. The fact that so many apartment-dwellers and condo-owners choose gardening as their passion, speaks not only to the ingenuity and zeal of the individual hobbyist, but also to the versatility and adaptability of most plants to container gardening.

Master Gardener, Fern Richardson writes about small-space gardening with an authentic voice. She lives in an apartment with minimal outdoor living area, yet manages to grow food, flowers, and plants with only a balcony and front porch as her garden. Her book is filled with ingenious ways to convert tiny areas into outdoor oases, complete with plant vegetation and small-scale furniture so that anyone’s balcony, porch, or tiny patio may become a multi-purpose outdoor living area.

The book is divided into nine easy, comprehensive lessons. Chapter One overarches the main elements of a small garden, namely the colors, shapes, sizes, and textures of plants and containers, appropriate furniture, and the option of lighting. Chapter Two discusses the pivotal role that weather and climate play in affecting the productivity, hardiness, and health of container-grown plants. The third chapter offers suggestions for attracting wildlife and the fourth is about growing food - yes, one can grow food in containers. Read the book to discover how it can be done.

The author grows, figs, peaches nectarines, and blueberries on her balcony in Southern California, and offers suggestions for successfully growing vegetables, not only in her warm climate but also in colder areas where, due to shorter growing seasons, seeds must germinate quickly. Readers who garden in northern locations will be pleased that the author has paid attention to their climate needs.

Chapter Five includes a photo essay on designing with succulents and aromas. The theme of the sixth chapter is about building privacy, while the seventh introduces lushness and verticality in the form of wall gardens and vertical plants that draw the eye upward to relieve a feeling of claustrophobia that sometimes occurs in small spaces.

The eighth chapter is aptly titled Green Thumb Crash Course, Learning the Essentials for Success. Here, the author writes about the importance of using high quality potting soil, essential details for container planting, repotting root bound plants, the role of fertilizer and irrigation, bulb forcing, whether or not to deadhead, and pruning technique. The last chapter is devoted to troubleshooting pests and diseases. In this fascinating segment, we learn how some companion plants help to control such uninvited guests. Even readers who do not garden in containers might find reasons to include these beneficial plants in their growing beds.

It must be mentioned that the photography sourced for this book is outstanding. To illustrate Ms. Richardson’s text, the works of over thirty illustrious garden photographers were tapped. For example, the cover image by Marie Viljoen that is repeated on page 72 is a masterpiece of narrative photography and composition.

All of the stunning visuals enhance the reader’s understanding of the advice offered by Fern Richardson, who, by the way, is an extraordinarily effective communicator. Add to this recipe, Timber Press’ hallmark, avant-garde graphic design, and the result is a publication that raises the artistic bar for all future gardening manuals. This is a beautiful and inspiring book to own.