With National Gardening Week just around the corner (April 30th – May 6th) now is the perfect time to get outside and channel your inner Titchmarsh. But for city-dwellers, creating a leafy paradise in the middle of an urban jungle can sometimes seem like an unachievable pipe dream.

Luckily, South-East London based garden designer, Michael Coley, is a pro when it comes to transforming city spaces. Ahead of the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, where he will be exhibiting a garden on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support, he gives his top tips on how to add character to any urban garden.

  • Planning is key. I always describe designing a small urban garden like a game of Tetris. You have a list of essentials and it’s all about fitting them into the garden in the best possible way.
  • Look for the sun. In a small garden, the spot where the sun is shining at 6 pm on a Friday in July is the most important part – so whatever your design is it’s basically got to revolve around that golden spot.
  • Don’t be afraid to be bold. Don’t think that just because you have a small space all you can do is put a 50cm flower bed around the outside of the area you’re designing. Break up space with planting jutting out onto pathways – that way your journey through even the smallest of gardens becomes interesting.
  • Less is more. I try to keep my material selection down to three – that way space is much more harmonious and less cluttered.
  • Incorporate self-seeding plants like foxgloves. These will fill holes and create their own planting plan without you having to lift a finger. There is a lot to be said for just letting certain plants do their own thing. Nature will find a balance and if you keep the edges under control you’ve got a low maintenance garden that has created itself.
  • The structure is key. Planting trees give any garden good vertical character and really helps to create the framework for a garden.

From June 6th – June 10th Michael Coley will be at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show exhibiting a bespoke garden on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support.

The garden itself is inspired by the importance of legacy donations to Macmillan, which receives almost a third of all funding through gifts left in wills. For more information on how you can leave a legacy for Macmillan Cancer Support visit www.macmillan.org.uk/donate/gifts-in-wills