The Secret Garden – A Place To Remember

The moment we saw our home we loved it and bought it without viewing a single other house. It needed work, and 8 years on, we are still finding plenty to keep us busy!

It is small, but we keep finding pockets of space that scream out potential. And those screams are hard to ignore. One of them came from behind this hedge, at the very bottom of our long and thin cottage garden.


Neither of us are exactly what you’d call gardeners and we found the outdoor space a little overwhelming to tackle. So we decided to break it down into chunks. Behind this rather overgrown hedge, was this even more overgrown area of land.

Thanks to the surrounding trees and the neighbours’ fence however, it was probably the only part of the garden that was truly private. Graeme instantly started making plans as to what could be done with it, but plans they remained, as for several years we just didn’t have the funds to realise them.

Then quite suddenly, and very tragically, Graeme’s beloved Grannie and Grandpa died within a week of one another. Grannie had been ill with her heart on and off for a while, but her condition deteriorated very quickly.

Grandpa was doing all he could to take care of her but the news that her illness was terminal was more than he could bear and he collapsed unexpectedly at home. That was the final break in Grannie’s already weak heart and she died in her sleep 8 days later with her family by her side.

It was a devastating time for Graeme and he was determined to create the garden he’d dreamed of in their name, using the money they had left to him in their will. He wanted somewhere the whole family could gather for BBQ’s and parties and also somewhere he could just sit quietly and remember them.

And so ‘Project Secret Garden’ began. Amazingly all our friends and family agreed to come and help us clear the area and it took no time at all with so many extra pairs of hands.

We then paid a landscape gardener to come and level out the land and lay the two patios and the path.

Graeme laid the path that leads to the shed using leftover slabs and he found the pond on Ebay. He sourced some blue slate chippings for around the path (keeping the space nice and low maintenance) and planted some shrubs to grow from under them, using a weed-proof membrane.

It quickly became apparent that the area was much larger than we’d realised, so Graeme looked into good value summerhouses that he could use as a home office. He works mainly from home and his papers and laptop were forever filling the dining room. Not ideal for a clutter freak like myself.

He found the summerhouse at as a flat pack and it cost just under £1600. He erected it with a friend and I painted it (Cuprinol Shades Willow and Country Cream). The shed was also a bargain from Ebay, which I painted to match.


Once the main structural elements were complete, I was excited to step in and do the titivating. I had this sign leftover from our wedding and with a simple word change, (‘wedding’ to ‘garden’) it slotted into the space perfectly. I also used the leftover wedding bunting to drape across the front of the summerhouse and shed.

The rattan furniture was from and cost £400. I’m currently on a mission to find some outdoor cushions for it to inject some colour. The sail was £60 and does a lovely job of sheltering us on those hot summer days as this courtyard is definitely a sun-trap!

Graeme made the table using a small, unwanted kitchen table that some friends donated to us. This provided the base and he then added some large wooden planks to create the top. He also made the bench but the chairs were just bought cheaply from Homebase and painted in mismatched colours for that shabby cottage feel.

The interior of the summerhouse is painted in Cuprinol Shades, ‘muted clay’ which is a lovely soft grey. I decided to team it with some yellow and grey soft furnishings, nothing too feminine was allowed in what Graeme has taken to calling ‘the man cave’. The curtains were from Next Home and the cushions a mix of Next Home and Dunelm.

Graeme insisted on having a drinks fridge and a dart board in there, (much to my dismay) and he made his desk out of some old wooden crates.

The Secret Garden has become a haven for us and a place to get away from the world. It’s so peaceful down there and I would definitely recommend zoning off an area of your garden in this way if you have the space. Keeping it as a place to remember loved ones is also a lovely and comforting idea, as visiting a graveyard or crematorium can sometimes feel a little morbid. As a smaller scale idea, we planted roses to remember Grannie and Grandpa too; red for Grandpa and yellow for Grannie as it was their favourite flower.

I also bought this sign as a gift for Graeme to put up on the gate (it’s a little weathered now so I plan to replace it with a slightly hardier slate version).

To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few more ideas you could use to inject some life into your outdoor space…

What about a vegetable patch?

Photo credit: @florencestreet_interiors

Or a quirky water feature?

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Maybe you could create a peaceful seating area for reading and having a morning cuppa?

Photo credit: @ewela5

A wishing well perhaps?

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Or a log planter?

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We love outdoor mirrors…

Photo credit: @nathaliebuontempo

Photo credit: @frame_88

…and you can never have enough lanterns or festoon lights


Photo credit: @frame_88
Photo credit: @littlelightsnl

Photo credit: @sarahgibbs85

If you have children you could create a mud kitchen like Spivs?

Photo credit: @florencestreet_interiors

Or use their old wellies to plant beautiful blooms?

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Our ultimate favourite though (for all the Love Island fans out there) is this uber sociable, ultra fantastic fire pit creation! We are big time in lust.

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