The Alan Titchmarsh Column

He’s a magnificent broadcaster, gifted gardener, brilliant author and all-round horticultural visionary. This month, Alan Titchmarsh talks about how to hide from your neighbours…

The great British garden – a haven of tranquillity, a sanctuary where we can revel in the joy of nature and, let’s be honest, a place where we occasionally seek refuge from the prying eyes of our neighbours. 

Not that we don’t appreciate their friendly over-the-fence chats about the weather or their cat’s latest antics, but sometimes a little privacy is just what the gardener ordered. Now, let’s embark on a creative journey through the art of subtly shielding ourselves from the next-door audience, without sacrificing the charm of our beloved gardens.

Firstly, trees are the gentle giants of privacy. A strategically placed tree can be a delightful screen that not only provides seclusion but also adds to the aesthetic appeal of your garden. Think of crab apple trees with their blossoms, or perhaps a majestic hornbeam, native to the south of the UK, but widely planted elsewhere – nature’s very own privacy curtain.

However, what if you’re looking for something a bit quicker and less towering? Enter stage left – shrubs and bushes. Like the ever-so-dense yew or the vibrant forsythia, a bush can be your ally in creating a natural barrier. They’re like the friendly neighbourhood watch of your garden, keeping an eye out for intruders (of the two-legged variety) while offering a habitat for our feathered friends.

If you’re after something that adds both privacy and panache, why not consider a trellis adorned with climbers? Think of the fragrant jasmine or the classic climbing rose. These beauties will climb their way up, creating a living wall that not only smells divine but also adds a touch of elegance.

Now, onto the pièce de résistance – garden structures. A tastefully placed pergola, decked out with climbing plants, can be your secluded nook for those lazy afternoons with a book. Or perhaps a charming summerhouse, nestled in a corner, where you can sip tea and pretend you’re in a Jane Austen novel.

Of course, the key to all this is balance. We’re not building fortresses here; we’re crafting a serene escape. It’s about blending functionality with beauty, creating a space where privacy and aesthetics walk hand in hand.

And while we’re on this garden escapade, don’t ignore the importance of being a good neighbour ourselves. After all, a friendly wave over a row of lavender is much more pleasant than a frosty stare over a towering fence.

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