Melina Scodanibbio, a freelance garden designer, says size doesn’t matter when it comes to making the most of small-scale gardening on patios or terraces. Not sure you know your Ipomoea alba from your Cestrum? Don’t worry, Melina gives us plenty of inspiration…Just use your creativity.
Al Fresco Spaces made into Green Living Spaces
With Malta’s amazing spring in full swing and summer fast approaching, any excuse will do to be outdoors. This, in fact, I am writing on the beach, soaking up the warm sun and looking up a little too often to admire the gorgeous, velvety sea. Not bad for early April!
It makes sense then to prolong our time al fresco as much as possible, and having a pleasant and welcoming outdoor space is definitely worth some thought and a bit of effort. The good news is a large garden is not necessary; the even better news is that not even soil is! With terraces, patios and balconies sometimes being the sole space available in many of our homes, container gardening is often the only option. The microclimate of the area must of course be taken into careful consideration: terraces are usually exposed to wind and sun, while patios may be sheltered and shady.
Keep it simple
Where space is limited the trick is to stick to one central idea, style, theme or colour scheme, and to carry it through to the details. It is always better to go for large planters in the same style and material rather than a mishmash of different small ones, which also dry up very quickly in the summer heat. With larger planters it is much easier to achieve a garden effect, with a few feature plants to provide the structure and smaller shrubs and fillers to soften the edges.
What to Pot?
A surprisingly large number of plants thrive in pots and containers, from small trees and large evergreen shrubs, to perennials, annuals, herbs and vegetables. Olive, Citrus and oleander trees can provide the vertical element in a planting composition, as well as fruit and endless summer colour in the case of the oleander. The linear leaves of Yucca, Agave, Dracaena, or Strelitzia create an accent and contrasting texture to finer-leaved shrubs, which in turn will add foliage and flower colour. For a striking night-time effect use white or pale blooms and silvery leaves; bold colours on the other hand will stand out much more in the harsh daytime glare.
Fragrant plants and climbers add a further dimension to the design, with their heady scents perfuming the warm summer air. Plants such as jasmine, Stephanotis, Cestrum, laurel, honeysuckle and Ipomoea alba, a variety of annuals as well as of course herbs, are all good options. Herbs and vegetables can be planted on their own but also look great intermingled with the ornamentals. Basil and petunia, peppers and lantana, chamomile and laurel, tomatoes and marigolds, fountain grass and creeping rosemary, your imagination is the limit for a visually gorgeous, scented and tasty terrace!
Melina Scodanibbio, Garden Designer
Contact Melina on +356 79734379 and see her website.
Photo: Gege Gatt