My Garden is a Car Park and other Design Dilemmas

Do you share your garden with a car? Worried that your neighbour’s trees are blocking your light? Is your garden too big? Too small? An awkward shape? Or maybe you just don’t know where to begin…

Kendra Wilson sets out solutions to, or different ways of looking at, garden dilemmas. As well as these projected answers to set questions the book also offers inspiration to anyone who gardens or has a garden.

To the posed query “I don’t know where to begin” Wilson offers response “Start by the door”.


I don't know where to begin

In brief: Start by the door

The advice of seasoned gardeners to newcomers is reliably the same: wait. Hold back and observe while a whole year plays out its seasons. What have you got? What grows well in the neighbourhood? Trees, hedges and wildflowers along the road are as instructive as the plants that occur and recur in other peoples' gardens. There will be a reason why ferns pop up everywhere, for example, or why nobody in your district is growing vines or figs.





I have room for one tree. What should it be?

In brief: This is a chance for drama

Since it is difficult to imagine the eventual height and shape of a tree, the pencil and paper are useful when considering what to grow. Would tall and narrow (columnar) be more appealing than wide and spreading? If it will be growing among flowers, a tree with a light canopy is best: multi-stemmed Amelanchier and Cercis canadensis, both favourites with garden designers, have good autumn colour, and their airy silhouettes mingle with other plants. A tree that is more than a lollipop shape will stand out on its own, inthe middle of a garden. Fruit trees have plenty of charm through the seasons: European or Siberian crab apple and cherry (Prunus) are hard to beat (though cherries can be very pink so do check first).


My garden in under siege

In brief: If you can't fence the perimeter, create an inner sanctum

A good place to eat in a garden is by the vegetable patch if you have one, surrounded by the things you grow. People and vegetables share a need for enclosure, not only from the elements but also from ravening beasts. These two gardens in New York State address the common enemy with great style.

The height of the 2.5 meter fence (facing, below) keeps deer from leaping over, while the graceful diamond pattern has been reinforced with lines of wire to make squares. The bottom 75 cm of the fence is supplemented with wire netting dug into the ground, to prevent rabbits from getting in...