From rural to urban I go

Transitioning from a rural garden to an urban garden may seem like a mammoth task, but with the right planning it can be executed without stress (or too much of it, anyway!)

Guest blogger Ellen Mary has been a lover of plants from a young age, growing up in Norfolk surrounded by plants in her parents’ kitchen garden. She now writes travel and garden content, produces and presents horticultural TV and organises horticultural events for charity. Here, she discusses her tips for transfering your rural garden to your urban home with ease.

When I last had an urban garden, I was living in London and it was one of the few times in my life that I didn’t embrace the green life – my roof terrace was home to nothing more than a chair!

Almost 20 years later and I find myself with the opportunity to start all over again. It’s such a huge change from my rural, well established garden. I wasn’t quite sure where to start – even the designer in me was all a bit lost! So after a little planning, here are my top 5 tips for moving into an urban garden.

1. Don’t forget your plants

From a rural to an urban garden

Even if you are vastly changing scenery, it doesn’t mean you can’t take some of your old plants with you. Write a list of your favourite plants in the garden and if you can lift and pot them, that’s the first step.

Taking a little piece of your old garden is really precious and can even help you to settle into your new pad. Once you’ve chosen which ones will make the move with you, think about which others you can add to complement the look and feel you want to achieve.

2. Planning ahead

From rural to urban gardening

If you have enough time, or even if moving is a possibility but not yet confirmed, start taking cuttings, collecting seeds and dividing plants at the right time of year. This is better for larger plants and shrubs that you won’t be able to move or pot.

It’s a great money saver when moving is costly and it’s easy to do ahead of time so you don’t forget when things get busier as the move approaches.

3. Check out the neighbours

From rural to urban gardening

If there are any gardens around your new garden, take a look to see what is growing. There will be loads of clues as to what works well. Keep an eye out for things like the shady areas and soil conditions. Some urban gardens can be in deep shade due to buildings around and others can be sun traps and very dry.

We have some neighbours with the most fantastic Musa basjoo and a stunning pink Hibiscus. Sure enough, our new urban courtyard is a real sun trap most of the day.

4. Look up

From rural to urban gardening

Yep, we all keep saying it! Use your vertical spaces.

You may have beds and borders in a rural space, but some of those plants will grow perfectly well in hanging baskets, containers on balconies and wall planters. It’s likely you will have less space in an urban garden, so think about what you can grow up a wall or along a fence and then see if there is anything from your garden you can propagate to fill that spot.

5. Relish the challenge

From rural to urban gardening

Many people have commented that I must be sad to downsize my garden, but I am so excited for the challenge that a small space brings in the city.

From pond buckets to moss walls and fragrant climbers – I really can’t wait. Welcome it as another step in your gardening journey and look forward to what you will learn from embracing some funky urban gardening.

Visit Ellen Mary’s website at ellenmarygardening.co.uk, and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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