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The Petite Garden

A small garden can boost your wellbeing and bring you joy. Rachel Grunwell shares her tips for making your own tiny garden. 

You don’t need a huge property to grow an abundant garden. I have a petite patch of earth in my backyard in Mt Eden (I call this my ‘Garden of Eden’), which is bursting with blooms, fruits, berries, herbs and edible flowers. It makes me burst with pride too.

My garden boosts my wellbeing for many reasons: It’s good for my family’s health to eat fresh food they’ve helped to lovingly grow. It’s an educational tool for my kids as they learn the names of all the plants. They too delight in the flowers and will often race excitedly to me when they’ve spotted some new beautiful blooms.

My garden also helps me to relax and unwind. I smile whenever I pick roses for a vase in my kitchen and I relish the scents. I feel joy when I water plants and notice they’ve grown, and I always get a kick out of picking fresh greens for dinner.

Growing things feeds the need for having a creative outlet. There’s a design process at play with living colour and greenery. When outdoors, the kids and I also soak up some essential vitamin D and breathe fresh air, which is invigorating. Weeding is a chore but the rewards of a garden are endless.

My garden also helps me to relax and unwind. I smile whenever I pick roses for a vase in my kitchen and I relish the scents. I feel joy when I water plants and notice they’ve grown, and I always get a kick out of picking fresh greens for dinner.

Tips to make the most of a tiny garden

Don’t fuss about having a perfect or neat garden

Opt instead for a cottage-style garden so you can grow everything together and make the most of any unused space. For example, I grow herbs under my rose bushes. If there’s some soil free, then it’s fair game to be filled up.

Put trellis on fences or outside walls and grow things vertically 

My fences brim with edible flowers, grape vines and passionfruit vines so these walls look great, but taste great too. I put the edible flowers in smoothies and on salads for a wow-factor. Jon Kirman, marketing manager for Kings Plant Barn, says you can even “espalier apple and pear trees” up walls. That is, train the fruit branches onto a frame to maximise space.

Have a wall of planters 

You can even buy plastic “walls” with pockets to put up. But instead of growing flowers or ferns, perhaps grow herbs or salad greens so you can pick the leaves as you need them. You’ll save loads on those supermarket herbs that wilt within days. “If you grow herbs from scratch then they will last about eight weeks”, says Kirman. He adds that planter walls can be done indoors too.

Plant miniature fruit trees 

They are on a dwarf root stock and so will not grow too big. I have dwarf peach and nectarine trees at my place and the trees are only as high as my hips, but the fruit crops are bumper-sized. Kirman recommends planting the lemon tree variety ‘lemon meyer’ in a pot. “It’s a great producer.” 

Consider putting herbs or salads in pots on a moveable cart like a wheelbarrow 

You can wheel it out of the way, and also chase the sun (or shade). Kirman adds that lettuce varieties where you just pick the leaves as you wish are great, over other types that “need time to heart up”.

Have a dual purpose for gardens 

I have a raised plant bed along a fence-line with a flat piece of wood along the edge which doubles as a seat.

Check out Pinterest for ideas 

Pinterest has lots of ideas around vertical pallet gardens. These are popular and you can plant lots of things in all of the shelves.

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