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Tiny Tropical Haven in London



  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,131
    I think the gravel will be more practical than clover, and the area won't look as big once your plants have matured and you have lots of tall, large-leaved jungly-looking stuff filling the borders. While the main planting is small you could have fast-growing things like dahlias or cannas in large pots to fill it out (depending on budget of course).
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • NekkyNekky Posts: 40
    It's booked! 
    Garden clear-out is happening next week. Patio will also be reshaped.
    Looking forward to seeing how the space and layout decisions evolve as a lot of it is difficult to picture at the moment.

    I'm really loving all the plant suggestions from the various posts. Particularly the Cannas.
  • Hi, hope everything is going well, I'm looking forward to seeing your garden develop :)
  • NekkyNekky Posts: 40
    Small update.
    Stage 1 groundworks completed today!! ... yey!

    • Rubbish clear-outs from other projects
    • Removed concrete path and the sleepers used to edge the patio
    • Gravel and membrane removal
    • Reduced the size of stumps around a few concrete fence posts.
    • Reshaping of patio

    In the end I opted for a patio shape that was easier to cut as I felt curves were more likely to go wrong. Patio still measures 5.25 metres on one end, whilst the other end is reduced by 1.5 metres.

    Reducing the patio turned out to be more work than anticipated as there was a 4-inch thick concrete pad underneath which would not budge with a pick axe. We then rented a breaker/jack hammer which broke it down nicely but something to anticipate for other newbies like me.

    Next on the agenda is to loosen up the soil , sift-out a lot of the stones/gravel still left and to level the landscape before topping with manure and topsoil. Is it worthwhile renting a rotovator or will a fork and tiller suffice ?

    There is still so much to do before any planting can take place but here's a few photos of the progress to-date.

    Before photo of stump which were significantly reduced.

  • didywdidyw Posts: 2,734
    Wow, you have made real progress.  Do keep us posted as its always fascinating to see how a garden gets created.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,048
    I think in a small space, being bold with your shapes (areas of gravel, decking, simple planting blocks) works really well. Lucy Wilcox has some inspiring schemes: 
    Lucy Willcox on Instagram: "In compact gardens you have to make every cm count. Break down the garden into great useable zones and have big chunky planting beds! Lush!…"

    Lucy Willcox (@lucywillcox) • Instagram photos and videos
  • NekkyNekky Posts: 40
    Looked up Sarah Wilcox - Her bold yet simplistic designs look awesome.

    No progress to report yet but I received the initial set of plants(early birthday gift) to start me off. Combined them with existing artificial and real plants and placed them around a mock boarder to get a better sense of the zones, planting space and where to to focus soil prep. 

    I suspect I'll need much more but hoping to source them from the suggested groups and by propagating existing ones (once I know how).

    The 3m by 3.8m oval gravel-zone in the photo will eventually house a portable water fountain/feature, which can be moved/emptied when the extra space is needed. 

  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited July 2021
    I think it's good to know (and remember) that one of your main aims for the space is for hosting social events. Let that usage and function inform and lead the design. The space needs to make that aim easy and fun. The new garden should be there to support you and your family, not the other way around.

    ... If you want to add water features, staging, need pipes or (more) exterior electrical sockets, now is the time to plan/put in new lecy, wifi, digital gizmos, and plumbing (not after the lanscaping is in). Taps in the right place and lots of easy lecy plug access are great things to have when you need them.
  • Cambridgerose12Cambridgerose12 Posts: 1,048
    I have never tried a tropical garden, but my one hard-earnt piece of useful knowledge from a garden about the same size is that you will need to be very picky in choosing and planting. Things grow, and don’t respect boundaries. Smaller plants can get crowded or shaded out after a couple of years. So thinking about how to restrain your bolder plants is a good idea—for example by restricting root growth in a pot. To keep space for entertaining outside (without a constant fall of water and insects from above), it may work best to maintain a strip around your seating area that only has low-growing plants. The other thing to be mindful of in a Nw facing garden is shade. As things get larger, so the amount of sunlight for cannas etc. will decline. 
  • pippippippip Posts: 25

    That’s a fun project you have there.

    ‘Evergreen’ is not that far from you. It’s a wholesale / trade plant nursery – no pretty pics on their website but there’s a little video and a few instagram pics. Non-trade can still buy [when there, you just register as e.g. “Nekky Designs”]. They’ll have small as well as mature specimens of the plants on your list, as well as other inspirations.

    Rather than the Nandina, what about a potted Fig tree (nice leaves) on the patio and you should get some figs.  And a hammock or lounger nestled amongst your jungle leaves.

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