Who doesn’t want a secret garden? It sounds fabulous, and if you’re looking in your back garden thinking it isn’t possible here, think again. Creating an out of the way, just for your space in the garden isn’t tricky at all. Perhaps you already have a favourite spot where you take a chair and watch the sun go down, or maybe you have a shed that you can jazz up and convert into an adult secret den. Maybe your pond could be the focal point of your patch of paradise, but even if it’s simply out the back door on the patio, here are a few simple design ideas to make it a real secret garden.
If you’re not sure where your secret garden should be, go outside with a chair to sit and contemplate. Try a few locations, think about the sun, the neighbours, the time you’ll be using it mostly, and before long, the best place for your secret garden will come to you.
Once you know where your secret garden will be, you’ll want to keep it secret with some sort of natural screen. Bamboo grows fast and furious even out of its tropical climate. If you don’t want it to spread far and wide, grow it in pots. The sound of wind through bamboo is very zen and relaxing. Ornamental grasses work well too, and for colour, try planting some tall airy flowers – allium, verbena, hollyhocks, honeysuckle and lavender are good ideas, and verbena and lavender are good for attracting bees. Plant buddleias to attract butterflies. Hydrangeas and fuchsias can really take off but tend to grow wide as well as up, so if you have a small garden, you might not want to take up this much space for one plant, although there is a climbing hydrangea.
A couple of comfy seats and a table is all you really need for your secret garden, although you can make more of it if you choose and have the space. If possible, use garden furniture that can stay out all summer long – then you just need to carry a couple of cushions and a long cold drink of an evening. Choose sunloungers, a bench or sofa seat or just a couple of chairs, basically whatever works for your garden size and budget. If you’ve got room, a hammock would be a perfect perch although you might not be able to keep the kids out of it!
They are all great for climbing flowers and plants but what’s the difference? A trellis is a single screen designed to help climbing plants climb. You’ll find a section of trellis in an arch, arbour, gazebo and pergola, all of which are free-standing structures, again used as support for climbing plants. An arch is usually over a path so it forms a tunnel, but put a screen behind it and add a bench and you have a secret garden!
An arbour is more structure arch, usually with a roof, and a pergola is usually square, with a flat roof commonly seen in Tuscan landscapes and perfect for vines. And then a gazebo is a stand-alone structure with a roof and sides, whether it’s wooden or tent-like. You won’t want any climbing plants on your tent gazebo, but for all the others, try clematis, a fast grower with loads of varieties and colours. Jasmine doesn’t grow so quickly, but that gorgeous smell in the evening will be worth the wait! Roses of course are classic on an arch and give glorious aromas too – check your rose variety though as some don’t smell anymore! Hops are great British climbers and are good growers in our climate.
- Just use fencing or bamboo screens if you’re not that green-fingered!
- Lay paving stones or slate, especially haphazardly, to make you feel you’re following a yellow brick road of sorts, through a tunnel of hops or jasmine, into your secret garden.
- Banish kids’ toys, this is not their part of the garden.
- Add a water feature, although the sound of wind through bamboo will do!
- Hang bird feeders and get a bird bath if you’d like to hone your bird watching skills and fill your garden with sweet bird song.
And now all that’s left to do is enjoy your secret garden in peace and quiet or with a bit of an opening party, it’s totally up to you! Feel like you need a bit more guidance on perfecting your secret garden? We have guides on how to build a garden pathway, growing roses, and attracting birds and bees to really give your garden a beautifully wild feel.