There are a lot of gardening books available, acknowledges Arthur Parkinson.
While he sat through lockdown after lockdown in his hometown of Nottinghamshire…
He realized there weren’t many gardening books available to people like him.
…those without acres of land, greenhouses, or unlimited budgets for landscaping.
Instead, they had concrete outdoor spaces.
“I felt that I needed to write something that gave proper inspiration to people with small gardens like me,”
he says. “So I did a book from my point of view..
..about growing things on your windowsill, potting them, and still making your garden feel full and flamboyant.”
The Flower Yard: Growing Flamboyant Flowers in Containers.
In part, the book features stunning photography featuring Parkinson’s green thumb (he trained with Sarah Raven and at Kew Gardens).
..and a how-to guide on how to create a wild world in a modest abode.
“This book is an invitation and somehow, I hope, an education on how to garden in a truly small space.
It is a calling out against what is small-garden dysmorphia, where gardens with lawns, sheds..
..and even greenhouses are indeed called small,” he writes in the introduction.
A pot is the best friend of Parkinson residents, as its name suggests.
Stately, affordable, and most importantly, they can be beautiful.
Even the most inhospitable surfaces can host an abundance of flowers.
“I see them as like islands,” he says.
“You end up with an archipelago of blooms.”
Using pictures of his backyard oasis over the past two years, he shows that this can all really be done.
“What if everyone in your apartment block had a balcony full of flowers for monarch butterflies and hummingbirds?” he muses.
The book will be released on April 27th in the United States.
Parkinson shared some of his favorite small-space gardening tips with Vogue.
Any container can be a pot—if it meets two main criteria.
A wash bin, a weathered tin trash can, or a traditional clay vessel can be considered a pot, says Parkinson.
Is there any other requirement?
One: Enough weight to keep them from toppling over during a storm.
Two: “Drainage that allows excess water to drain from the soil.”
Spoil your soil
“The key thing that people forget is making sure the compost in your pot is healthy,” he says.
“So buying a really rich compost, mixing it with good organic fertilizer is important.”
Make a moodboard
In preparation for planting.
As a way to boost the visual impact of his garden, Parkinson creates collages from seed catalogues.
“When I’m selecting plants, I almost think of it like a fashion show,” he explains.
“Does that look like a Vivienne Westwood dress?
Colors, the way you’ve put them together almost looks like you’re picturing a catwalk.
Therefore, you are treating each flower individually.
To complement one another, they must all work together.”
When picking complementary colors, look to nature
“Nature will quite often tell you about color scheme,” he says.
“if you look at a monarch butterfly, for example, you can think to yourself..
..orange goes well with burgundy, black, dark purple, you know.
Or if you look at birds of paradise—yellow, orange, again, red, but also a bit of green, a bit of blue,” he says.
“Oftentimes white, in nature, is on its own.”
Most people assume that to grow flowers from seeds, you need a greenhouse or an expansive sunny lawn.
Parkinson disagrees. “You honestly can grow your garden with just a windowsill,” Parkinson says.
“It is all that I have ever had.”
Don’t plant them too early.
It will create a situation where they’re stuck inside, where they’ll not be happy,” says Parkinson.
You can start growing them in April or May for the summer season.
Make sure to rotate the pot regularly so one side doesn’t receive most of the sunlight.
It is said that Parkinson enjoys fragrant, beautiful flowers like dahlias or ornamental vegetables like pumpkins.
Those who need something low-maintenance, multi-functional, and inexpensive should consider this.
Growing herbs is something he suggests.
What are his recommendations? Marjoram, rosemary, and lemon verbena.
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