Best Small Garden (Open to Amateurs)

Project 1

Alicia Aimee Robinson

London, UK

A Quiet Gardener in Hackney, East London

Design Statement: To create green space in a built up urban environment for the insects, birds and as a kitchen garden in progress.


A quiet space in East London for insects, birds and to grow things to eat.

Project 2

Alexandra Danielsen

Portland, OR, USA

Parking Strip Gardening

Design Statement: Taking advantage of every bit of our small city growing space by transitioning our parking strips. 


South parking strip, planted with all edibles (greens, asparagus, berries, pears, pumpkins, columnar apples, tomatillos, eggplant, and much more!).


East parking strip, planted with water wise natives, pollinator attractors and wildflowers.




Wildflower pathway.

Project 3

Joke De Winter

Lougborough, UK

The back yard

Design Statement: A small garden to grow things to brighten up breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert. A place to eat or just sit around. A haven for beneficial insects and not so beneficial ones too. And last but not least, weather permitting, to dry the laundry.


A view from the top. 


Chives. A nice border plant, but the flowers are great in salads too.


Digitalis for the bees, and raspberries (in the back) for breakfast.


Dill. Great stuffed inside a roast chicken. 

Project 4

Totally by Design

Cambridge, MA, USA

Urban garden

Design Statement: My small urban garden consists of south facing driveway and west facing small area in the rear of the house. In the typical East Cambridge fashion every square inch is covered with concrete….I plan eventually to replace it with something with more garden friendly, but in the meantime, I am just happy to have my private garden space. I have been container gardener for years in a different part of Cambridge. I was successful growing English roses in large ceramic planters, so for me it was an easy transition to a new house (not so much for friends that were helping to move the heavy planters, about 25 of the to be specific!). Roses and vegetables occupy now the south facing wall, next to a driveway and side entry to the house. The completely private back, bit less sunny, is our lounge and grilling area. It is also my test garden as I branch out past roses in containers. Tiger lilies, verbena, echinacea, runner beans and 3 different types of mint and basil. Since the garden is so small and everything can be viewed from up close, I also included two containers of succulents this year, propped up on fruit crates. They are also and occasional makeshift centerpiece for the outdoor table. Since the garden is all containers, I constantly rearrange based on what is blooming. As an extra challenge, I try to work with perennials only, which means there are times when nothing is blooming…but I never take anything green for granted. Welcome to my urban garden.


Back of the house area – overview.


Back of the house lounge area.


Back yard through Russian sage.


Mix of small pots in the back of the house area. 


South facing side entry wall, with container grown English roses.


Abraham Darby grown in container.

Project 5

Bridget Hagan

Brooklyn, NY, USA

Fire Escape window boxes

Design Statement: These images are of my first garden. I recently became interested in gardening/farming after stumbling upon a few blogs and books that speak to the subject matter (The Dirty Life; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Reading My Tea Leaves). I think it is so important to have some understanding of where our food comes from, and what goes into producing it. I am slowly gaining an understanding of the process through my small green space, nestled on our fire escape. While the food growing here is not intended to fully sustain me, it has helped me to make smarter decisions about what I’m putting inside my body. I enjoy coming home from work and taking a look to see how the plans have changed from the day before, and dream of a day when more space will allow me to expand.


I started the seeds in a plastic greenhouse in March. When i transplanted them outside, i quickly learned the local squirrel population was a fan of everything I had planted, so the chicken wire frame was constructed later to protect the plants. 


South view. Lots of sunlight. Not much space, but the added greenery out the window makes me quite happy. 


Cherry Tomatoes have just ripened and will be eaten this week. 

Project 6

Sara Stevenson

New York, NY, USA

Harlem Patio

Design Statement: Urban Patio Garden


Full view of the patio.


Coleus, geraniums, and herbs.


Garden in the fall.


Herbs from the garden–mint, chives, basil, oregano, rosemary.

Project 7

Susan Nock

Wellesley, MA, USA

Shady Container Garden

Design Statement: Welcome to a small container garden in a corner of our deck. A mainly shady area, I have planted the containers with a variety of shade loving perennials including ferns, masterwort and ajuga. There is a large container planted with cimifuga, heuchera, ornamental oregano and tuberous begonias. A few pots of succulents also live here. The bench is also home to a collection of heart shaped rocks and lanterns. It is a place to sit and relax.


Shady container garden in a corner of our deck. 


Lantern surrounded by a fern and succulents. 


Large container filled with cimifuga, ornamental oregano, tuberous begonias and heuchera is surrounded by pots of masterwort, thyme and succulents.


Pot of succulents.


Cimifuga, ornamental oregano, tuberous begonias and heuchera.


A grouping of containers, lanterns and rocks.

Project 8

Ashley Hamilton

Edinburgh, UK


Design Statement: Measuring in at 1.4m x 9m, my north facing balcony is long, skinny and shady. It took me a few years to figure out what I wanted to do with it but I knew it had to be green all year round and offer some privacy. There have been a few casualties as far as plants are concerned. Sun loving herbs and fragranced flowers have suffered from the winter winds and lack of sunlight. I got wise and started to embrace the shade tolerant plants. My foxgloves, bluebells, delphiniums, jacobs ladder and clematis are quite happy with the sliver of evening sun. My ivy pom-poms are coming along quite nicely, it is my take on urban topiary. I carry my dining chairs out when I fancy eating outdoors. Given how narrow it is, I didn’t want to take up space with unnecessary furniture. To be honest, I’m happier with a picnic on the floor. My marble table is important, it’s usually topped with all sorts of cuttings in jars of water. Growing from cuttings and seed is my new thing. I must admit I feel pretty smug when I get a new plant for free. This year, my bird box hosted a nest of blue tits, my bird feeder is busy and I’m thinking of building some tenements for bees. Future plans include some herbs, more flowers, more green. Other than that, I’m more than happy with my chilled out green haven.


Long and skinny.


Ivy pom poms in the making.


Tiny bit of colour for the beasties.


Lupin positioned for the evening sun.


Tea and biscuits on the floor.


Late Spring.