How does your garden grow? 


How does your garden grow


 It’s easier than you think to get your garden summer ready,
says Georgina Blaskey. Local expert advice can make all the difference
– from window boxes to total overhauls, and everything in between,
NappyValleyNet have got it covered


It’s the same moment every year (yet it always catches us by surprise), when we switch on BBC2 and hear Joe Swift, Nicki Chapman and Monty Dom enthusing over the stunning horticultural creations up the road at the Chelsea Flower Show. Then we turn to look outside at our postage-stamp-sized gardens and sigh…. How can they create such magical, enchanting spaces in a matter of weeks, and yet our patch looks withered, weathered and frankly washed out? Where’s the border colour, the inviting bench, the atmospheric lighting, the lush lawn and al fresco dining room laid out with beautiful tableware?

The thought of turning a garden around for those of us whose fingers are any colour but green is terrifying. Mistakes can be expensive and gardening takes patience and a long-term view to reap results, doesn’t it? Thankfully, there are purse-friendly, quick fixes to hand from some established, experienced local companies in this area. And if you’re willing to take a (slightly) longer view, you can still have the garden of your dreams in time for summer.

How does your garden grow

If the mother-in-law is about to descend and your window boxes are like a flower morgue, fear not, the team from Battersea Flower Station will come to your aid – just give them a call and they can arrange delivery to you of all kinds of plants, flowers, pots and window boxes, and their calm kind knowledge.  They’re like the “DIY SOS” team but from just around the corner. This really is low-maintenance gardening at it’s best – you don’t even need to leave the house! “Just send us your measurements and we will arrive with a fully-stocked window box of flowers in your choice of colours (from £60),” says Lisa Lisa McCormack, founder, owner and passionate gardener.

Battersea Flower Station know how to maximise small spaces and are sympathetic to our neurosis – I have no knowledge, I kill everything, the only flower name I know is daisy. “We encourage people with small spaces to think big and bold. Rather than having a small pot of something here and another little one over there, which makes the space feel small and cluttered, we have seen how a few bigger, more established plants can enhance even a tiny balcony,” says John, passionate gardener and co-founder.

Year-round interest is another consideration as most flowers only last a fews weeks, so what’s left when the pretty petals have gone is so important. And the best thing? “We will never plant anything that requires more than 10 minutes a year in maintenance after watering,” promises Scott.

The Battersea Flower Station garden centre is hidden down a secret alleyway off Battersea Park Road, at the entrance is Phil the florist with his colourful selection of cut flowers. It’s surprisingly large, so much so that one spends the first few moments trying to work out where all the Tardis like space has come from and then the second few moments trying to work out why one hasn’t heard of it before.


If your issues extend to more than boxes and pots, Asa Beveridge at The Gorgeous Garden Company can help. He’s been specialising in garden makeovers and design for five years and knows the issues SW London gardens face well. “With so many houses having bi-folding doors looking out, gardens have become another room in the house, but often aren’t treated as well!” A few simple steps can transform them though. “Renewing your fence is often a good place to start and repainting in modern hues which complement the colours inside the house really extend the living space outside,” Asa suggests. “Above the fence, horizontal baton screening is very effective as it pushes the boundary lines outwards, making the garden appear much bigger.”

If your decking has lost it’s lustre, pressure wash it and apply a protective coat of special non-slip paint. “Ronseal Rescue Paint has a decent colour range and if you pick a lighter colour, you will reflect light back in to your home.” A small lawn is a nightmare to keep lush. One month it’s as dry as the Sahara, the next it’s officially a bog. Artificial grass is a fantastic option for families – particularly the football-loving ones. “It’s quick to lay, it drys rapidly after rain and looks lush and green all year round,” says Asa. 

Finally, lighting is key. “These big glass doors are like a TV screen that’s been switched off at night, but to look out at lights makes such a difference. Lights make the space warm and inviting on a summer’s evening and in the winter, you can pick out evergreens and create a stunning view. We use energy-efficient LEDs so they’re eco-friendly too.”

Asa, like the Battersea Flower Station, has a comprehensive understanding of how to maximise small spaces, a challenge most of us face. Some simple tips for maximising space and making a small garden look and feel larger: careful use of proportions with each element of a new makeover/design eg a small but well proportioned full width step or horizontal screening allow the introduction of long vertical lines across the widest parts of the garden making the space feel larger. Paving and seating work well when proportioned generously so you don’t feel crammed when entertaining – but as always with smaller spaces keep one eye on proportions so no one element is too dominating
“You can extend vertical lines using a small step, draw long lines with a horizontal baton, create the largest bench you can – it all makes the garden bigger!” encourages Asa. With options for all budgets, that garden makeover could be well within reach.


What’s the state of the front of your house? Do the eyes of the street roll every time they pass by your door? Tracy Whelan at Muddy Wellies is your lady if you need to plan some planting for your front garden. “Front gardens are disappearing and it’s terrible for the environment because there is nowhere for rain water to drain away,” Tracy explains. With 25 years of garden design, with a focus on landscaping front and back gardens, under her belt, she certainly knows what’s what. “But a front garden is so easy to maintain – a feature tree in the middle surrounded by flowers, a box hedging design plus some lavender along the pathway look wonderful. Imagine coming home to the scent of lavender every day…” Tracy and her trustworthy team can restore your Victorian path to create a scenic gateway to your front door. 

But the worst eyesore out the front? Bins! “We have created bespoke bin stores that look wonderful. Our beehive design can hold two to three bin bags, they are painted and have an attractive zinc roof (from £350), and our bigger dustbin stores with tongue-and-groove panels start at £900 (painted).” That’ll keep the pesky foxes at bay. 

Muddy Wellies also make great playhouses. “We’ll add climbing nets, slides, swings, hammocks, sand pits, turrets and anything else the client wants! Prices start from £1,800 and go up to about £5,000. All the wood we use is treated – be it soft or hard wood. If the client wants their playhouse painted we can offer that service as well,” explains Tracy.


Sometimes a front garden needs a complete overhaul of paving and tiling though, and this is a time when calling in the experts, taking a longer view and investing as much as your budget will allow will pay off. “Many people spend enormous amounts of effort, time and money to make their homes more spacious and lovely to live in. It seems a shame that the front entrance and garden is so often overlooked. Grand and opulent as these front areas usually were in their heyday, it is sadly true that an old, damaged and tired period garden can detract from the new splendour inside,” reflects Chris Martin, director of The London Front Garden Company. Renewed street appeal aside, “all of our past and potential clients are keen to maximise the value of their homes and to make them welcoming and inviting places in which to live and entertain.”

Chris is passionate that front gardens are dealt with properly. “We provide a complete service for those who wish to revive, restore or completely renew their front gardens. We offer expert advice on all the options available, whether it be a traditional approach in sympathy with the history of the property or a more modern ‘twist’. We are able to source a wide range of replica and modern materials and have the skill, expertise and experience to bring them all together into a top quality and highly attractive finished front garden.” With made-to-measure railings, individually cut tiles, handcrafted York stone steps, this is not a budget option, but it is an investment that will enhance your home – and once the boys are booked in, they can turn it around in a matter of weeks.


As all our experts have conveyed, due to architectural trends and our love of open-plan living, flowing space and huge glass doors, the garden is part of the house in a way it has never been in the past. Once you’ve got it ready, you’ll want to show if off so you need to dress it like you would any entertaining space. Lords of Notting Hill (of Northcote Road) have a brilliant range to get you started on al fresco entertaining. “For lounging we have a stylish deckchair from Thornback & Peel (£135) but for table and chairs, look no further than the beautifully painted range from Garden Trading (from £100),” advises Vinyet Bujosa Armora. Coloured glassware looks stunning in the sunlight so kick off happy hour with a jolly jug from Kilner or LSA (from £20) and add some twinkly lanterns to set the atmosphere (from £5, Garden Trading). But it’s not all about the grown-ups. Giving kids’ tea outside and walking back inside to a spotless dining area is every mother’s dream, so stock up on melamine plates and cups. “The squirrel design from Anorak is ideal of boys and girls of all ages,” suggest Vinyet. With an extensive range – from BBQs to candles and napkins –you won’t be short of ideas.

So with summer nearly upon us, call in the experts or visit a garden centre, get the kids planting and settle back with a glass of something cold and enjoy the latest room in your home. Then why not book Monty Dom to come and rate it while you’re at it?


Nappy Valley dwellers are lucky to have the largest plant centre in Central London on their doorstep. A Wandsworth institution, Neal’s Nurseries is more than a local garden centre, it’s an Aladdin’s cave of pots, plants, tools, accessories and, most essentially, knowledge. Every visit, we come back armed with helpful hints from the passionate staff who go out of their way to advise and serve. Inside there’s a huge shop full of seeds, indoor plants, enamelware and even a children’s section to encourage green-fingered mini Montys. You’ll also love the seasonal Christmas shop with lighting, decorations and cards at fantastic prices.

From larger established shrubs to flowering plants for hanging baskets, stylish garden furniture and BBQs, Neal’s offer many options to get your garden summer ready, and you can always be sure you have been given the best advice.

Colin Campbell-Preston, of Neal’s Nurseries, ( has offered this amazing competition for NappyValleyNet readers. Answer the three questions below and you could win a voucher of £100 for plants and a two-hour service where Colin will visit your garden, help plant and offer general garden advice. Two runners up will receive a £100 voucher each. Email your answers to by 30th June.


  • I am related to an onion and a national emblem of Wales, originally worn in soldiers helmets and I am not yellow?
  • I am the name of a famous Spanish cubist Painter, what type of a starchy vegetable am I?
  • Fruit that starts with an ‘A’, usually white inside but can be pink. Can be red, green, orange or yellow on the outside?



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