A-Z; OF REALLY SMALL GARDENS- TAKE COVER

U IS FOR UGLINESS; Reach for disguise: our `Really Small Gardens' extract explains how flowers bloom shed the

IN THE tiny garden absolutely everything is on show, the assets as well as the eyesores. Making the most of your space means coming to terms with the immutable features and either exploiting them or integrating them as discreetly as possible.

There are, in all gardens, some minor irritations, like rubbish bins, coal bunkers and oil tanks, as well as power meters, which we would happily dispense with if we could. If you are designing your space from scratch, the most effective way to deal with the functional components of a garden is to site them together in one place, and box them in with timber. Conceal the structure with a suitable climber, resisting the temptation of the speedy Russian vine (Fallopia baldschuanica) or Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). Though they will cover quickly, they do not stop; try instead the self- clinging vine, Vitis vinifera `Purpurea', stopping it every year at least 1m (3ft) below the house eaves.

Drainpipes can quickly be covered by climbing plants trained up wires or netting. The pretty perennial climber Eccremocarpus scaber, which flowers through summer, grows as fast as an annual in cooler climes; it is tender but will be protected in a small courtyard. Small-leaved ivies like Hedera helix `Glacier' make ideal candidates, being self-clinging and evergreen as well as hardy. The large-leaved Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla) can be trained on wires and will trap flies in its rather odd tubular flowers, but it will need constant vigilance to check that it does not spread too far. Make sure the stems do not go behind drainpipes because, as they thicken, they will gradually force the pipe from the wall.

Walls tend to accrue attachments to do with the workings of a house, such as gas flues, air conditioners and ventilators. Never cover these with climbers as the consequences can be dire.

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