Whatever your age, having a secret spot in the garden where you can relax and unwind all year round doesn’t require an outdoor space the size of a small field. As we step into autumn, why not get started on an outdoor project and work on creating a special spot you can enjoy?
Hopefully you've read my last post and will recognise that this is in fact our very own garden!
Just to the right of that tree I have a set of steps which take you down to a secret area in our garden. At the moment it's just an underground garage space, but I can't wait to make it magical with fairy light and lanterns. The magic of a secret garden can leave people enthusiastic about time spent on their own doorstep, so how do you get started?
Long before the secret spaces written about by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter series, the authors of several children’s classics created equally awe-inducing magical places that have inspired generations. Why not look into the idea of the secret garden by reading the novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett? Stories can fuel ideas for transforming your own space, the Narnia books are another great series that could provide ideas for magical features to incorporate. When it comes to the design stage, you may even find you want to draw on little bits from several favourite books to create mini garden areas on a theme.
The Exciting Entrance
In The Secret Garden, one of the key features of the enclosed space is the locked gate. While it’s lovely to be able to incorporate some kind of gate or archway into your design, it’s not always practical. What is a fundamental, is being able to create garden layers, so that whether you’re stepping into the space from a gate or your back door, it’s not always possible to see the full scope of your garden in one glance.
This may mean factoring in a small clearing at the back of the garden or if more practical for your space, you could step straight into the enclosed space. If you have a modern build home, bi-fold doors could provide a real Narnia like effect and give that feeling of stepping into the magic. Try Creative Doors Direct for styles that work well with new and older houses.
Wherever your magical entrance and whatever style you choose, think about it as a gateway to a journey through your garden and support that it with curving pathways and cute signs that direct to different areas. You may even want to put some old mirrors to use to make your garden seem bigger. Place securely at the back of the garden and mask the edges with creeping plants and the mirror will reflect your garden, helping your space to seem larger and longer.
Fantastical Flora and Fauna
Not everyone has space in their garden or backyard for a mini maze and installing one throughout would go against the component of discovery having a garden made up of different elements provides. However, some archways and hedges can go a long way to directing people through a secret garden and to boxing off a special secluded area to enjoy too. Try boxwood or sweet yew or for a quicker fix, use a trellis or pergola complete with climbing plants. Training creeping flowers around archways will provide an extra sensory factor to enjoy in spring and summer.
A Secluded Spot
Whether it’s a small clearing for playing and picnicking or a spot that homes a swing, chair or hidden shed, a secret garden should have a focal point, a spot to find and experience in solitude or to be enjoyed with friends. Choose an area where there are things of interest to be enjoyed. Somewhere with flowers that attract butterflies in summer time or where there is a bird table, so you can watch winter wildlife close up. The size of your garden, or further literary inspiration, may determine the type of feature you incorporate. If you’ve space for a small shed or play hut it will no doubt be a place to treasure for years to come.
Have you read The Secret Garden ? Are there any books that may provide inspiration for a secret outdoor project that ought to be added to the list? If you were to build your own secret garden, what would you include in it and why?
We are very lucky the garden is fully established and didn't need much doing, but this little secret area at the back really has got me excited about gardening!