How Does Your Garden Grow? - Part 1

Owning a garden for the first time can be a daunting prospect, especially for those not naturally equipped with green fingers. Interiors stylist Joanna Thornhill faced such a challenge after purchasing her first property in Walthamstow, north-east London, and she inherited an uninspiring patch of barren concrete. Her response was to tackle the space much like any other interiors makeover: tart it up and style it out!  

This colourful space provides the perfect spot to both entertain and relax during the warmer months.

This colourful space provides the perfect spot to both entertain and relax during the warmer months.

Bay tree standard, £65; wooden planter, £55, both Trees Direct. Green American glass cake stand, £39; folding giant spotty newspaper stars, £7.50; recycled plastic kettle, £8; plastic pouffe, £35; plastic mat, £12, hand-painted religious tin can, £15.50, all REfound Objects. Melamine plates (on wall), similar from Rockett St George. Vegetable oil tin stool, from £35 from a selection at The Chair Man at Wood Street Market, Walthamstow. Orange bunny and paper bunting, from a selection at Tiger Stores. Phoenix pygmy date plant, metal steps and selected other plants and pots, from a selection, Wilkinson.

A bright splash of colour and some cosy textiles makes this seating nook sing.

A bright splash of colour and some cosy textiles makes this seating nook sing.

Bench, from a selection at Argos, painted in Summer Medley 1 paint by Dulux. Bench seat pad covered in Green Mum’s oilcloth, £12 per metre, Viva la Frida. Battersea toile cushion, £60, Snowden Flood.

After sourcing a plastic plant pot to fit inside its opening, this old teapot is put to good use as an alternative plant pot, complete with drainage spout.

After sourcing a plastic plant pot to fit inside its opening, this old teapot is put to good use as an alternative plant pot, complete with drainage spout.

Wire fruit stand, floral cross-stitch cushion, stone dog ornament, yellow tealight holder, metal frame, fruit crate, metal teapot and colander (used as planters) and milk bottle holder, all vintage – try eBay, charity shops or salvage fairs for similar

These Heuchera plants look cute peeking out of a vintage fruit crate, lined with a bin bag to minimise wood rot. Old garden tools make appropriate décor for the space.

These Heuchera plants look cute peeking out of a vintage fruit crate, lined with a bin bag to minimise wood rot. Old garden tools make appropriate décor for the space.

Bamboo slat screen fencing, £29.99 per 4mx2m panel, Homebase.

Reclaimed railway sleepers add a rustic touch to this city garden. If creating a similar look at home, bear in mind that reclaimed sleepers sometimes contain metal inserts – if you wish to cut some to size, it’s best to purchase new ones to ensure you get a clean cut.

Reclaimed railway sleepers add a rustic touch to this city garden. If creating a similar look at home, bear in mind that reclaimed sleepers sometimes contain metal inserts – if you wish to cut some to size, it’s best to purchase new ones to ensure you get a clean cut.

Alicante astro turf, £13.99 per square metre, Touch of Grass. Cotswold stone gravel, (in flower beds) £7.49 per maxi bag, Homebase.

A vintage sign, found at the annual Lille Brocante flea market, adds a touch of industrial interest to the shed.

A vintage sign, found at the annual Lille Brocante flea market, adds a touch of industrial interest to the shed.

Value Traditional overlap 6ft x 6ft shed, £175, Wilkinson, painted in Pale Jasmine from Garden Shades range, £23.49 for 2.5l, Cuprinol and Summer Medley 1 with Weathershield base, £23.99 for 1l, Dulux.

An old plastic chandelier, stripped of its wiring, creates a quirky, mood-setting outdoor light. Spray-painted a vibrant blue and with pillar candles added where light bulb fittings once were, it is hung from a hanging basket bracket screwed into a fence post.

An old plastic chandelier, stripped of its wiring, creates a quirky, mood-setting outdoor light. Spray-painted a vibrant blue and with pillar candles added where light bulb fittings once were, it is hung from a hanging basket bracket screwed into a fence post.

Solar powered LED party lights, £35, Lakeland.

Lots of clever tricks have been used to add height within this garden: here, a discarded table leg, found on the street outside, has been topped with a slate roof tile to create a quirky plant stand.

Lots of clever tricks have been used to add height within this garden: here, a discarded table leg, found on the street outside, has been topped with a slate roof tile to create a quirky plant stand.

Wire bird cage, £75 for two, Rockett St George.

Next week we'll share more of Joanna's innovative ideas for potted plants.

Feature and styling: Joanna Thornhill.

Photography: Rita Platts.

This feature originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Heart Home mag. All stockists and prices were correct at time of publication.