Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Side Passage Makeover

Last weekend we took on a mini project by making over the side passage of the house that leads on to the garden. It had a partial makeover before, when we sorted out the planting halfway through this narrow passageway nearest to the house. But the area adjacent to the conservatory leading towards the top patio only received further attention in the last few days.

New planting on the garden side passage

Existing planting on the side passage, done many years ago

Long overdue to say the least, in a garden where space isn't that big and any space available is an opportunity for planting. Let's have a look...

Phyllostachys aurea
Phyllostachys aurea

Previously what was in this area are a row of pots with bamboos in them. Bamboos rarely do well long term in pots, in fact they show signs of protest very early so confining them in a pot long term is something we don't recommend. The first batch of potted bamboos went away quite awhile ago but we have stopped there, leaving only for several years. The main reason for leaving it there was that it also served as a privacy screen from our next door neighbour as a couple of their side windows directly overlook ours (they built their extension fairly recently). But that potted bamboo is getting tatty and could do with being passed on.

So out it went and the remaining pot prepared for a new resident.

Out it went, waiting for a new home

In this section there is a Phyllostachys aurea bamboo already on the ground so is providing some privacy already. The previously potted bamboo was to one side while a gap remained on its other side. This gap has been filled in with a row of new glazed pots, in keeping with the theme of the garden, which will be the home of some of our plants 'waiting in the wings'.

This area is sheltered but also shady so we selected plants that should be fine with these conditions. Several trees went in to these pots, admittedly not the best place for them long term but they are better here for the next few years rather than remaining in small pots in the utility area. They should get taller and do well for awhile (that's the expectation anyway) to both provide greenery and privacy.

Viburnum awabuki on the right hand side

Magnolia officinalis
Magnolia officinalis

Cordyline australis

Magnolia obovata

The first pot has been planted with Viburnum awabuki, and the second pot where the bamboo was is now the home of Magnolia officinalis. The three glazed pots have been planted with Catalpa bignonioides 'Aurea', Cordyline australis, and Magnolia obovata.

Sticks in a pot don't look lush at all so the base of each pot has been underplanted too to add extra interest. We have used slivers of Carex grass, various Aspidistras, hardy ground ferns Asplenium scolopendrium and Arachnoides simplicior 'Variegata', and a climber for the catalpa Parthenocissus henryana. They look sparse for now but they should expand further as the season progress.

A selection of understory planting

Not the easiest of spaces to photograph due to being narrow so pardon the awkward shots but they should still give an idea. This side passage still has to serve a very utilitarian purpose hence the brick wall needs to remain clear and so is the overhead space, to easily shift things through especially tall/long plants and building materials.

We're both really pleased with the results and looking forward to seeing how they get on from here.

Mark :-)


  1. It looks great. As I had a relatively tiny garden attached to our former townhouse, I know what a challenge it is to cram as much as you can into the space you have, especially when you're addicted to plants ;)

  2. Gardening every inch, I would expect nothing less!

  3. In awe, as always. Me, I'd stand there scratching my head, not knowing what to do.


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