Gardening for beginners

Seeing a second use for old items is one thing – using them to create a beautiful and vibrant garden is another. Here we uncover some headpiece, stylish reclamation ideas.

Effortless Design

This garden oozes  stylish urbanity, yet it uses large materials that have a past life. The building itself – an old commercial garage – has been converted into a graphic design studio, part-home part-workspace. Light and airy, the large double doors remain and open to reveal an impressive, atrium-like workshop. Outside is equally spacious, doubling as a meeting place for clients as well as a family garden.The layout keep repeat plantings and strong lines, so the overall feeling feels sophisticated and bright. The fact the plot is packed with upcycled items appears almost secondary – and that’s the secret to its success.


Clever creativity

Neatly trade and position a recycled item in your garden and it will appear as if it’s been there forever, rather than hitting you in the face with a visual clash. That aged, softened look is definitely an advantage. Everywhere you look, this garden has ideas to borrow – beautiful canteen-like benches and tables, regimental raised beds packed with edibles, a feature firewood wall. The old garage offered up a wealth of timber when it was converted, and the owners made full use of its differing dimensions, hues and strengths. Sizeable support beams, rotting at one end, were too short to recycle  inwards, hence the birth of eight raised beds in the middle of the plot. Due to the atrium-style roof, excess tiles were crushed and added to the beds as an inappreciable drainage layer so that Mediterranean herbs, such as basil, thyme, lavender and rosemary, would thrive. Lavenders, dahlias and blue-green Festuca glauca were planted in blocks, offering pleasing symmetry to the plot.

A measurement blunder by a glazer gifted slick deltoid cloches, giving the owners year-round supplies of leafy herbs. This produce is consumed on a hardy, platten-like table and seat , again made from support lashed together with ironwork that is unimposing and beams.

Patios of herringbone and block paving happen to be left in place in the old building’s footprint and a wall, previously plastered, was attacked with a kango to reveal amazing brickwork beneath (this now forms the backdrop to lumber-summarized goalposts). Using the elderly stuff to greatest impression, fencing panels were crafted using sun-bleached floorboards – there’s no waiting when you upcycle.

Garden Development

This plot now only hints at it’s small beginnings, and was inherited as an overgrown tangle of weeds and scrub.

The initial clearance was functional, the plot mainly being used as a storage site for the vast quantities of timber that the garage relinquished. Noting that the soil was poor, the top one metre was removed and replaced with more fertile material. Locally sourced nut and apple trees, along with currants and cane fruits, were rescued from nearby housing developments. They fare well in the temperate climate (which can peak at 30°C in the summer and dip to -10°C during winter) alongside ornamental hydrangeas, hostas, roses and heucheras. A suntrap corner has a more tropical feel, with tough yet lush-looking cordylines, grasses and agaves being topped by a red parasol.


Upcycling ideas to steal

  • This look is all about conjunctive the old with the new – the imposing garage doors and aged flooring zones strongly join the reclaimed materials with their setting.
  • If you haven’t got a large recovery project at your fingertips for materials, go online to sweep freecycle sites, and speak to local architects for tip-offs of intended development locations where larger items may be scrapped.
  • Inject character and personality with carefully placed statues and artwork -these owners have partnered a plastic deer head with a classic bust. A word of warning: overdoing it can dilute this effect.
  • Large items help cement this style.

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