When you’re passionate about gardening it can be tough to cope without a garden. Sooner or later, however, many of us have to go garden free for a period of time – whether that’s because we’re living in an apartment, renting a property where you have no control or just have so little outside space that there’s little you can do.
As someone who has lived in a “garden free” state on multiple occasions I wanted to take some time to consider some alternative ways to get your “fix” without having a garden of your own…
Window Boxes & Containers
Very few properties have no outside space at all; it’s just that sometimes you need to get a little creative. In an apartment, for example, you could consider using windowboxes or hanging baskets as a way to bring greenery into your life. Container gardening can also be a great way of growing plants no matter matter how small your outside space or how unpromising the earth is.
In our recent rental, that came with decking but nowhere to actually put plants, we lined the side of the house with an assortment of containers and succeeded in growing not just a profusion of annual flowers but even a range of fruits and vegetables such as blueberries and grapes. Even better, when we moved house we were able to take all our containers with us, rather than leaving our much-loved plants behind.
If you truly don’t have any space outside, or there are rules preventing you from horticulture, a different option is to grow plants indoors. Not only is there a greater range of houseplants than ever before – many of which require minimal light – but many traditional garden plants can also be grown on the windowsill.
To give two specific examples I successfully grew armfuls of marigolds on my windowsill at university, whilst these days I maintain a sizeable indoor herb garden on my kitchen windowsill.
Many areas have a local horticultural society, where passionate gardeners can meet, learn, socialize and swap seeds. Of course, the prerequisite here is that you’re interested in gardening; not necessarily that you actually own a garden.
Joining such a club can therefore not only be a great way to meet fellow garden enthusiasts, but it’s quite possible that you can make new friends who will happily accept your assistance from time-to-time. They may even offer you a patch of your own in their garden.
Friends and Relatives
It is somewhat ironic that whilst many passionate gardeners find themselves severely lacking in outdoor space, at the same time many time-pressed homeowners find their garden more of a burden than a pleasure. Many either spend large sums of money paying professional gardeners, or have laid much of their garden to gravel, paving or decking in the hope of minimizing their work.
Someone offering to help out is often therefore welcomed with open arms! You never know – they might even be willing to pay you for your services.
Community gardens are a godsend for anyone wanting to create their own green space on a budget. I have personally been involved with community gardens here in the UK (where they’re called “allotments”) for many years, and lose track of how much pleasure my little plot has brought me.
Besides the never-ending supply of vegetables and cut flowers I enjoy, you’ll often find that a community garden is also a great place to make new friends, as everyone has similar interests and you’ll often find a strong feeling of community.
Each year hundreds of gardens are opened up to the public. From big, showy tourist destinations to private individuals opening their garden one weekend for charity, in some areas you could visit a different garden every weekend and still not see them all.
Public gardens aren’t just great for enjoying the great outdoors; they can also be a fantastic place to gather inspiration for your own garden, or even seek guidance by speaking to the professional gardeners who maintain them.
Dream of the Future
Lastly, of course, you can start planning for your own garden – even if you don’t have one yet. Invest in some good quality gardening books, subscribe to some blogs, and keep your eyes peeled on sites like Pinterest. Over time you can build up a plan of what plants you want to be growing, stylistic elements you like, and you can at least start gardening in your head, even if you can’t do it in real life just yet.
The truth is that whilst living without a garden is difficult for us, the problems it presents are far from insurmountable. With a little creativity you can get your regular gardening fix without it costing you the earth.