I have a small garden, prime border real estate is very limited and at a premium when there is high demand from plants that are literally queuing up to have some ground space they can be crow-barred into. There are only so many pots that can fit on the patio, the greenhouse has only so many shelves and there are only so many hanging baskets that can be planted up. When space becomes rare what’s to be done?
The answer is to go up. Climbers are the answer and in my garden, climbers grow up the house walls (Wisteria, banksia rose, climbing hydrangea), up the fences and railings (jasmine, honeysuckle, ivy, clematis), and even up through trees and shrubs (more ivy and more clematis). The house is only made up of so many walls and there are are only so many fences that you can use so what then? You can return to the border and plant climbers in there. The right climber takes virtually no space at ground level (the most important factor) and instead will give you leaves and flowers at eye level, elevated above the herbaceous perennials that can only look up in envy.
Recently I was compelled to buy four 8-foot tubular metal obelisks and they weren’t the easiest to get in the ground (cue pictures of me leaping onto them, jumping up and down on them and generally wrestling with them trying to get them deep enough into the soil). It was all brought about when an excess-plant off-load operation went badly wrong and we came back with two large hostas, eleven sweet peas and eight runner beans. However, we had managed to swap three trays of ground-dwelling plants for climbers.
However, even obelisks need a reasonable amount of border space. What happens when you want more planting space, but are refused planning permission to take up any more grass? The solution is to use arches and pergolas. We have two garden arches that accommodate four climbing roses. The roses themselves don’t take up much ground space and the arches are a 2-D line in the border. However they will take the roses up, high over your head and the grass you walk on as you pass under them. The pergola I am still waiting on but you get the idea – “border” space is extended above the “lawn” space.
With the walls, obelisks and arches, the garden now has a “skyline”, tall broad shrubs punctuated by spires of obelisks and curves of arches. The small garden has naturally dictated my style of trying to cram as much in as possible and using the third dimension to go up means that I can fit even more in.