We invited Adam Robinson from Adam Robinson Design to discuss gardening in an urban environment.
Our motto at ARD is ‘better garden, bigger life’, reason being that I firmly believe that having a green space, somewhere in your home, whether inside, outside or somewhere between, is paramount. No matter if your living space is big or small, it has a huge impact on quality of life.
I specialise in greening the urban environment in a way that’s in sympatico with city living.
I don’t try and bring country to the concrete jungle, my team and I love the challenge of softening hard, architectural edges and creating green pocket gardens for people to nestle into at the end of a hard day, but make no mistake these are alfresco spaces for city slickers! We combine forces with the restraints of an urban environment to evolve the space into a ‘Greenscape’ with all the modern conveniences at your fingertips, every comfort, designed for maximum lifestyle.
Apartment living around the world is on the rise and in Australia, spending time outdoors is in our DNA, and it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got the quarter acre backyard; a low-maintenance balcony, courtyard or rooftop garden will do very nicely thanks. A lovely oasis can be created quite simply with a few pots, plants and the right outdoor furniture. I suggest choosing a well-considered cluster of pots, making sure the sizes and shapes work nicely together and are cohesive, with hardy plants. I’m not a fan of mis-matched pots as they can make a small space feel cluttered and messy.
I’m not about delivering my clients an urban farm, however I do know there is something very appealing about pulling a lemon off your own lemon tree that you nurtured from a sapling, to cut open and squeeze the juice onto BBQ prawns or a cocktail. Some of my clients do like to grow a few edibles even on a balcony like a dwarf fruit tree or some of their favourite herbs, cherry tomatoes or rocket and spinach for salads. It’s the most satisfying thing to grow, harvest and eat food you’ve grown yourself.
Whether your tending edibles or sweeping up the fallen flowers from a frangipani tree, there is something really grounding about those tasks because they allow you time to connect with nature and provide a kind of ‘technology detox’. This is something that’s so important in busy inner-city living.
After a day spent in the garden I always feel grounded and connected to myself and others I’m with. I often help my parents in their garden, we spend the day or afternoon out there and I find we have a few laughs and get into beautiful, rich conversation which doesn’t happen as much as if we met for lunch at a café.
It’s important to remember that downsizing in property size does not mean sacrificing what we love about having a garden. If you’ve downsized from a house in the suburbs with a backyard to a city apartment with a balcony, you still have the capability to connect with nature, through growing some of your favourite plants in pots. These days there is such a wide variety of styles and colour of pots to choose from, and the upside of having a smaller space, is you’ll have more free time to enjoy your green space, rather than working on maintaining it. Small space gardens are a joy rather than a chore, they can give you the right amount of greenery in an informal, intimate and manageable way.
A balcony that gets full afternoon sun will need different plants to one that’s in full shade, or in a windy spot, so you may need to get some expert advice to help with plant selection or experiment a little to get the right mix for your balcony or courtyard’s microclimate.
Don’t be afraid to play with scale and proportion on a balcony, I love using big pots and large, established plants in small space garden, however you may just have one or two as a statement. Another critical element to remember is to create a cohesive, harmonious feel to the way you connect the interior and exterior spaces of your apartment and balcony. Some consistent colour is a great connector.
These days the demand for apartments with great indoor/outdoor areas is much higher than without, and that seamless segue between in and out is prioritised by developers because they know the ‘alfresco’ aspect of living is the most desirable, delivering their customers maximum lifestyle.