Before I moved to London, I dreamed of having a ‘dream garden’ that would leap straight out of the ‘glossy magazine’ pages, draped with fairy lights that twinkled under the light of the full moon, incense wafting in and out of flowers. There would be bright and bold flowers demanding your attention, roses, bluebells and daffodils lined up in a row, while a greenhouse housed all the succulents you could find, a mini Kew Gardens in your very own backyard-it would be magical. The candles would flicker with a yellowish light, and the smell of fresh cut roses intermingling with warm bodies coming together, would send me into my happy place, where everything was sunshine and rainbows, and the rainbow unicorns would guard the dream garden from intruders who dared to pass the lair. But then I moved to London, a concrete jungle, where dream gardens are far and few between, where I am constantly moving from house to house, in search of a forever home to call my own. Still, my dream garden is never far removed from my thoughts and while my new houses backyard is small and defined by concrete, outside space, whether it’s green or grey can definitely be transformed into a small oasis to be proud of.
If you have any outside space, you should definitely try and make the most of it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fully-fledged garden, but even something as simple as a ‘flower pot’ or wire basket can make the world of difference to your garden. However if you are an overly zealous perfectionist like me who will stop at nothing to make her ‘dreams come true’- whether that be a dream garden or a dream career- then here are a list of things, tips and ideas that might just help you create the most beautiful garden ever. Do keep in mind that we are going to skip the basic and generic gardening tips here in favour of more specialised ideas to make the garden look fabulous, because you should already know at least the basics of gardening if you are reading this. So allow me to draw upon my volumious list of ‘alter egos’ and introduce the Garden Fairy to the party AKA Julie, whose renowned for her green thumb. Or at least in her head because I might be the most impractical person that you could ever meet!
Put in the Right Flowers at the Right Time
Spring and summer are the two prime seasons for your garden to look its best, so you need to choose colourful flowering plants that bloom at the right time. Check out the following list of possible candidates for your garden’s spring and summer bloom:
- Tulips – They are seen everywhere in the UK during spring and for good reason
- Iris – Available primarily in various shades of blue and violet, they may also come in shades of pink and red
- Grape Hyacinth – The beautiful blue flowers look like a bundle of grapes and add variety to any garden in spring
- Mock Orange Snowflakes – The shrub will emit an intoxicating aroma and the flowers will look like actual tiny snowflakes in spring
- Azalea – the bright pinks of the azalea do not last long, but they are still worth it
- Blue Star – What’s not to like about a flower that resembles a brilliant blue star? And may I remind you that blue is my favourite colour? Hint, Hint.
- Astrantia – Opt for the classic white and pink or the ruby wedding astrantia
- Geraniums – Lush red geraniums work best really, but blue and magenta variants also look beautiful
- London Pride – It’s not about the colours, but the design and the details that make it a must have in your garden for the summer
- Anthemis – The yellow variants can closely resemble sunflowers, but are not one-flower plants like the sunflower
- Violas – By far the brightest violet flower to bloom in the UK and probably the world, violas are a must have
And let’s not forget about autumn either, with us drawing into the middle of September, autumn is well and truly on it’s way, and you know what that means? Pumpkins! AKA the only thing that makes the incredibly short days and poor lighting worthwhile, especially if you happen to have a pumpkin patch in your back garden. In fact when I do have a garden of my own, it’s guaranteed that I will be having a party with all my pumpkin homies because that is how EXTRA I am.
No garden is complete without trees and you can opt for smaller variants like Japanese maples, crab apples, and figs if you have a small garden. In fact, growing up in the countryside meant that I even had small trees in my back garden, so living in a house where the only plant is a dry, astrigent bush that died a long time ago, means that I am eager to bring some green back into the back garden, even if it is something as small as a little crab apple tree. Plus you know how I am always happy so it is imperative that I have food at all times. Small trees are ‘adorable’ even in larger gardens but if you have enough space, you might also like to plant a few large trees like the Callery pear tree, saucer Magnolia tree and the silver birch beside the garden paths or near the fences for added privacy and shade. If you are looking for a statement tree large enough to install a ‘treehouse’ that will be the creator of many happy childhood memories then why not look at planting a ginkgo, an oak tree or maybe even the hornbeam tree which is ,majestic in its towering glory.
The Fence is An All-Important Part Of Your Dream Garden
Everything from the fence panels you use to the vines you choose to grow over them will play a huge role in deciding how beautiful your garden will look from the outside and even from the inside. As far as garden fence panels are concerned, the best look can only be attained with actual wooden fencing panels, although, other sturdier metallic options are also available that are rot-proof and last longer. However, the dip treated wooden fence panels sold at Buy Fencing Direct come with ten years of anti-rot warranty, making them the perfect choice for striking a balance between aesthetics and longevity. Be sure to colour them in tandem with the rest of your garden décor, but just in case you are confused, white almost always works for garden fences. However if you are a little more colourful like me, who dreams of owning a beautiful baby blue house in East London, then why not invest in more colourful paint to adorn your fences, to create your own mini version of ‘Notting Hill’ in your own home?
Put in Bird Baths
As someone who is a self confessed animal lover, it should come as no surprise that my dream garden which feature cats and dogs lolling in the grass, while the birds chirp in the nearby trees. Picture the scene, birds flying through the trees as they play kiss chase, while the bees dance with the butterflies as they waltz among the blooming flowers, that become a gorgeous backdrop against the arrival of sunset. To make it happen, multiple bird baths are a must have, otherwise those birds will just hop into your neighbors garden and leave you out in the cold. You can build one yourself with just a few plates, bowls and steel stakes, but feel free to buy one from your local garden supplies store, or online if you don’t have the time and hate shopping in store like me. Don’t place these below big trees that shed leaves, but instead, put them right in the middle of the flower garden or anywhere that’s visible to the birds, in addition to not looking out of place. The bird droppings will enrich the soil and your feathery pals will likely eat any pests that could be hiding in the plants. So goodbye worms and hello beautiful birds. However do set up some butterfly feeders with sugar water as well, but remember to distance feeders away from bird baths to prevent the poor pollinators becoming bird food.
While a well decorated and well-planned garden looks beautiful during the day, it isn’t until sundown that it begins to truly look magical. Imagine watching the constellation of stars trickle across the night sky, while the garden lights sparkle in synchronized harmony. In order for it to look magical though, you will need to plan your garden lights intelligently and thoroughly, to get that ‘glossy magazine’ look. It would be impossible to properly advise on this without really knowing the layout of the garden in question, so here are a few techniques and tips that you can customize to fit your own garden:
- Use soft lamps to highlight all the impressive sections of your garden, including trees, plants, flowers, statues/structures, etc.
- A stone firepit is a great addition that can also be a cosy little place to sit around and enjoy a few beers by. Or roast marshmallows, whatever floats your boat.
- Drape your fences in fairy light chains to get that magical Midsummer’s Night Dream ‘Feel’.
- LED lanterns of varying colours up the top and around the patio will look beautiful;
- Highlight the borders of your garden path with LED lights
Remember to always use soft and low-powered lights because you cannot create contrast without sufficient darkness and the interplay of light and dark is what makes a garden look truly magical after sunset. These are of course, general guiding ideas and tips, but it is up to you to add all the necessary customization to these and make your garden look like a scene right out of a beautiful dream.
What Would Your Dream Garden Look Like?