Love Your Garden: Episode Six

By The Secret Gardener


Small gardens are often more challenging than the larger ones. The first thing to do is to make it appear larger than it is. Using different types of surfaces is a great way of achieving this. Here we used a mixture of lawn, decking, paving and borders, which also gave it a great deal of character too.


Paving connects parts of a garden together. This one linked the decking to the dining area and the house itself. It follows the beautiful borders drawing you through the garden as it goes. Complexity adds depth making the garden feel larger still. 

A feature I particularly liked was leaving certain slabs out of the paving, filling them in various creative ways instead. In one we placed an olive tree that would cascade over the slabs. You’ll see this in many places around the Mediterranean. They plant trees in the missing slabs on the sidewalk which softens the hard landscaping and adds height and effect into the space.

Frances then created a dragonfly slab using different coloured pebbles and it’s a great thing to do at home with the kids. Make sure you practice your design on sand before starting because you don’t want to be moving the pebbles once they have been placed in wet concrete! Then make a wooden mould to pour the concrete in. Family hand and footprints are always good or you could let the kids design something themselves adding pebbles, glass beads and similar items to create arty paving.

The secret is in the pitted and textured surface, as they replicate indigenous Cotswold natural stone slates beautifully. If like me you have more of a traditional taste, the Weathered Buff shade has a wonderful colour patination which adds to the effect.

For the construction minded, the slates are nibbed for ease and come in a range of sizes complete with ridge and hip units so the whole job can be ordered in one quick and easy process. Double holes for nailing make the laying process really quite straightforward. When building for RHS Tatton Park Flower Show the roof was actually one of the quickest elements.

Our Garden at RHS Tatton received not only a Gold Medal but was awarded Best in Show. It was a garden which was created to evoke the great Edwardian gardens of England. The Pavilion and Bothy we made there were key to its success and the roof was sensational drawing a lot of favourable comments from visitors and RHS judges.

However its not only shows where these tiles sing, I use them on projects a lot. For me as a designer, its not only about roofing, there are lots of vernacular and Lutyens style garden details where these tiles work - not only as a good alternative but often as a preference to natural stone tiles.

Meet the author

The Secret Gardener

The Secret Gardener is an award-winning landscaper, specialising in bringing colour and ambience to any space.

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