Everyone has a part of their garden that drives them up the wall (forgive the pun). For some time, I have been searching for a way to disguise this mock stone, garage wall. Whenever I look out of the kitchen window, I think how lovely my garden is, and what a shame that this grim, grey thing has to be in it. It is a total eye-sore and detracts from all the prettiness of the borders opposite. Since demolishing it and building a slick kitchen extension is not within our budget at the moment, nor is it likely to be in the next 5-10 years, something else must be done about it.
Here are a few of the solutions I’ve considered. The difficulty lies in the fact that there is no soil to plant in at its base, only a concrete slab path. It’s north-facing but gets lots of sun in the afternoon.
Camoflage the wall with large plants in pots, positioned either side of the window on the path. But have you seen how expensive large pots are? Plus they would protrude too far into the path, and it’s our only dry (not soggy) route to the compost bin in autumn and winter.
Paint it. I was thinking of a steely grey-blue shade. Part of me likes this idea but I worry that it would draw attention to the horrible bricks and look a bit scrappy. We have already painted the shed and wendy house. Can you have too many shades of paint in a garden? It would certainly be a quick and easy option.
Attach a window box and hanging baskets. We tried this. They stuck out too much, and my husband regularly banged his head on the baskets when he took the kitchen waste out to the compost bin. This was not acceptable. (Being a shorty, it was not a problem for me, but not everyone is so blessed.)
Build a long, low, wooden trough along the whole length of the wall and plant ivy. This one, I am seriously considering. Before you think I’ve gone crazy, let me explain. As a rule, I HATE IVY. I fight a constant battle against the foul green stuff which is constantly trying to invade my borders and smother my trees. But there is a right place for every plant, even ivy, and I think this could be it. Ivy will climb and cling, covering the whole wall in glossy leaves, flowers and berries. Its vigourous nature makes it ideal for covering a wall quickly and it doesn’t require a structure to climb up. What’s more, according to the RSPB, ivy is a great plant for the wildlife. It provides a habitat and nectar source for bugs and butterflies, a nesting site for small birds like wrens, and the berries are an important food source for blackbirds and thrushes. And I can see myself liking this more unusual Persian ivy ‘Sulphur Heart’, which has yellow-tinged leaves.
Build a pergola and cover it in climbers, like the example from housetohome pictured below. There’s no doubt that it would eventually look fantastic. I could dig up some of the turf, plant into the soil beside the path, and train climbers like clematis or passionflower to grow up the verticals and create a covered walkway. If I’m feeling particularly efficient, I’ll take some cuttings from a clematis I already have in my garden to make new plants for free. Wisteria would create too much dense shade. Roses would look great and I love the idea of a scented pergola, but I don’t think I want something with thorns growing so close to a path. I could try to find a scented, thornless climbing rose (although some gardeners would consider that sacrilege). Building a pergola can’t be that hard, can it? If I’m lucky, I’ll wangle some help from my brother-in-law, who just happens to be a builder, and isn’t remotely busy renovating his own home and working full-time… Al, are you reading this?