Gardening in Small Spaces

#4I always expected to have a large yard in which to grow flowers, vegetables and herbs. I envisioned a small lawn and designing designated spaces for planting. There would be a kitchen garden near the door with herbs for cooking, a cutting garden in a sunny area so the house would have fresh flowers, a rose garden with fragrant David Austin old roses, and perennials throughout serving as the garden anchors and offering winter interest.

It was a nice daydream.

#8Living for more than 35 years in a Fairfax County townhouse, I’ve had very limited planting space. Yet I still have a garden filled with herbs, some vegetables, and lots of perennials and flowers. It’s become a lush garden, and it remains a work in progress. The garden is filled with hanging planters, plant towers, containers and trellises.

In creating a garden in small spaces, you must have good design and be creative. Each spring, I plant annuals for seasonal color. I use containers and choose plants wisely. #5I might put an evergreen in a flower pot and then add annuals to it in the summer. I plant herbs with flowers both in the garden and in containers. I use walls, fences and trellises for perennial vines that soften the town house, add interest, and give bursts of color in spring and summer.

I’m always on the lookout for unusual ways to plant. I recently saw an adorable dog house with its roof planted in creeping fig (Ficus pumila). I immediately planted one to cover a bench where no one sits. The fig spread quickly. A favorite vine is a native #2passion vine (Passiflora caerulea) that rewards me with yummy yellow fruit every fall, and the late summer flowers are spectacular. A wall shared with a neighbor is covered with Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata). #6This is not a true ivy. It has shiny green leaves in the spring that turn magnificent shades of red and pink in the fall.

I’m a big fan of gardener, author and photographer Derek Fell, who has an award-winning garden of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. One of his many books, Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space, offers recommendations for the best climbers for space-saving, and I have successfully followed his suggestions.

#1You can garden anywhere. Be creative. Try things. My grandfather gardened on a fire escape in New York City in the 1930s. There are many space-saving solutions – in shutters between slats, between pavers, in a frame, on a chair, in the middle of a table as a living centerpiece. Use imagination, and plan your spring garden.

Author Gioia Caiola Forman is a Green Spring Gardens Master Gardener and a board member of the Friends of Green Spring.

Green Spring Master Gardeners host their annual Eco-Savvy Symposium promoting sustainable and ecologically sound gardening on Saturday, February 17, 2018, at Green Spring Gardens. Author Derek Fell and Thomas Schneider, Executive Director of Rooftop Roots, will be among the speakers. For more information or registration call 703-642-5173.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s