The aspirational messages pushed to us on TV and in magazines are entirely confusing: on the one hand we should all be cooking on our AGAs in our country cottages and on the other we should all be hot-footing it around central London, drinking in wine bars and only communicating via Bluetooth.
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In reality most people have to balance the desire for the great outdoors with the practicality of ensuring an easy commute to work.
When living in a city the ‘luxury’ of a garden, or any green space, is usually sacrificed entirely as space is at too much of a premium. However, it’s not hard to add a little greenery to your life, as long as you’re smart with the space you have.
Window boxes are a great way of ensuring a steady supply of fresh herbs are on hand for any budding chef. Similarly, even the tiniest balcony can be host to a couple of pot plants, changing the view out of the balcony door from a grey city skyline to a scene of green.
Of course the most rewarding use of space can be for growing food. An increasing number of rooftop gardens are appearing across the country’s urban landscapes; the popularity of inner city beehives is testimony to the success of marrying city and country in the sky.
If you’re lucky enough to have a bit of outside space at your disposal you need to make sure it’s hardy enough to withstand nature and that it won’t damage the building it’s part of. As anyone who’s seen a building crumble under a barrage of ivy can attest the damage caused by plants should not be underestimated.
Decking creates sturdy walkways, and choosing plastic or composite options means minimum long-term maintenance. Timber decking can be sustainably sourced if you’re keen to create an eco garden. Once you’ve created a flat, safe and pleasant environment it’s often best to simply grow your plants in pots, which makes growth control easier (if you’ve ever grown a pumpkin you’ll know how left unchecked you can end up mimicking ‘Little Shop of Horrors’).
With the harvest season looming, now is the time to feel inspired by all the lovely produce in the shops and at markets, and make plans for next spring. It might not be akin to having your own orchard but it’s surprising how much satisfaction can be gained from growing a few tomatoes or courgettes.