Meet Victoria Summer | Creative Gardening

19th May 2023

Garden Table set for afternoon lunch

Wondering how to make the most of your compact garden during the summer months? We sat down with Victoria Summer aka @summerhousestyle, who has made it her mission to fully embrace the joys of nature in her central London location. Victoria’s vibrant urban oasis provides joy and respite from the hustle and bustle of the city that surrounds it. There’s no lawn, yet this low maintenance garden design achieves a country feel with its clever planting.

Victoria Summer preparing food for summer lunch

Victoria, did you have a clear vision for your garden – or any must-haves, as you got started?

My garden is in West London, and like so many urban plots is quite compact. I've gone for a contemporary, clean lined aesthetic to mirror that of my kitchen, with doors that lead directly into the garden to keep the spaces interlinked. We didn't have a huge budget and we knew we had wasted a lot of money on buying the wrong plants when we did our previous garden, so we were determined to get it right this time.

How did you design the space?

We decided on our overall budget and spent a proportion of it on a RHS Gold Medal winning garden designer, Will Williams. Although you would think such a choice was counterintuitive on a small budget garden, Will's expertise meant we saved money in the long run and achieved a beautiful design. By using fewer paving stones and exactly the right amount of plants for the plot’s conditions, we were able to make sure that no money was wasted .

Were there any particular challenges?

Lots of conversations were had around the mature apple tree that dominates the space. In the end Will lobbied hard to keep it and design the garden around it. Now that it’s home to a swing for our daughter, we are so glad that we did.

Flowery garden accessories with potted plants

You’ve gone for a very pretty ‘country garden’ planting scheme, how did that come about?

For the planting we went to Soto Gardens for a ‘gardening by numbers’ kind of approach. They sell curated garden collections for your particular conditions to make it easier to create a garden from scratch - and to look after the plants you do buy!

Are you happy with the results?

Yes! As novice gardeners who don't want to spend too much time on the garden, it was the perfect solution. It's hard to believe that in March last year we didn't have a garden at all! It all grew so fast and so well.

My favourites are the big blousy Hydrangea Annabelle and the white foxgloves, which help attract bees and butterflies.

Tell us about the secondary process of transforming your urban oasis into an inviting outdoor room.

The entire space was designed with relaxation at its heart. My Garden Trading pots and Foxmore Planters were one of my first purchases and recently it's been wonderful to add the Porthallow Sofa Set to sink into at the end of a long day, with a cocktail! The cushions are so comfy! My Rive Droit Bistro Set in Clay is often in use for lunches in the garden and it stacks away really easily as it is so lightweight.

Outdoor Garden Sofas with cocktails

Now it’s done, what do you like most?

Everything! It's just wonderful to see the garden coming to life again and I am dreaming of long summer days ahead.

Close up of bistro table set for summer lunch

Proud owner of a compact garden?

Here are our four top tips:

  1. Dining? Increase the flexibility of your external living area by choosing furniture such bistro sets that can be stacked and stowed away.
  2. Look to take indoor comforts outside. Choose weatherproof accessories that can be moved easily between indoors and out, as and when the weather demands.
  3. Hosting? Foldable chairs, rugs and floor cushions are also great for providing comfy (plus easily moveable) places to perch and guests naturally gravitate to them.
  4. Showcasing garden grows? When outdoor space is at a premium, think vertically. In addition to planters, use shelf ladders to display your pots; these are perfect for stylishly presenting a whole host of vibrant greenery at different heights.

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