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Small space magic

PUBLISHED: 15:17 06 June 2014

Julie's garden is full of recycled items and interesting plants

Julie's garden is full of recycled items and interesting plants

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An eclectic mix of art and recycled items teamed with interesting plants makes Julie Sadgrove's garden in Stifford Clays near Grays

Plants and art blend together to create interesting themesPlants and art blend together to create interesting themes

a quirky garden to visit, writes Philippa Pearson

Making the most of the space in her garden is crucial for Julie Sadgrove, from Stifford Clays near Grays.

Exotic decorations by Julie create a sense of adventureExotic decorations by Julie create a sense of adventure

‘It is not just about the garden,’ says Julie about her patch of heaven, ‘it’s about creating a space for fun and relaxation as well.’

Julie’s unusual, small garden measures just 100ft by 30ft and is a place where art and plants combine to create year-round and seasonal interest, all liberally laced with lots of fun. She began creating the garden 11 years ago, although much of the space was initially taken up with outdoor toys and other paraphernalia that young children need. ‘As the children have got older,’ says Julie, ‘I’ve reclaimed areas of the garden for myself.’

With an ecological ethos and approach to gardening, recycling plays an important part for Julie where possible in the garden’s resources and design. A keen artist, she has introduced many painted items, sculptures and themes in this small space, which happily mingle with interesting planting combinations and flowers.

‘I like to recycle things,’ laughs Julie, ‘and find lots of objects in skips which, although are thrown away, have potential for a new life as an art installation in my garden.’ One of the first themed ideas she had was to introduce a yellow brick road, inspired by the film The Wizard of Oz.

‘My mum bought me bricks and some turf as a Christmas present,’ Julie explains, ‘and I made the feature the following spring in the garden.’

The garden has evolved each year with new artefacts and themes being squeezed into the tiny space as Julie is inspired and also finds the time to create new projects.

‘I love the beach,’ she says, ‘and I have made one area into my own beach garden.’ The space is complete with half an up-turned boat as a seat, fishing paraphernalia, driftwood and pebbles.

Elsewhere, African, Australian and Indian influences and artefacts create interesting walkways and seating areas that you discover as you walk through the garden.

Plants have come from cuttings from friends and family and have been chosen to flourish in the chalky flinty soil which abounds in this area. ‘I’ve selected many local and native plants,’ says Julie, ‘so they will thrive in the poor soil here.’

Many of the plants attract beneficial insects, including bees and butterflies, making this garden of interest to every visitor that comes by. The garden has been open for charity over the last ten years and this month the garden opens for the fourth time as part of the National Gardens Scheme. Don’t miss the chance to have a look and be inspired yourself.

Visit Julie’s Garden

163 Whitmore Avenue

Stifford Clays

Grays, Essex

RM16 2HT

01375 377780

The garden is open for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) on Sunday, June 8 from noon to 4pm as part of the NGS Festival Weekend. Admission £3, children free. Plants for sale and refreshments available. Visitors are also welcome by appointment during July. Please contact Julie to organise this.

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