This blog chronicles my mission to turn a small, awkward, shady patch of East London into a beautiful garden.

Dan Hatch Awkward Gardener

The awkward garden

For 20 years I’ve been a keen gardener — without a garden. I had to make do with house plants and balconies. But in June 2018 that finally changed, when my partner and I bought a home in East London.

London real estate is outrageously expensive and finding a home that meets all your “needs” usually involves compromising or sacrificing on your “wants”. Desperate to start my own garden, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my desire for outdoor space — but the compromise we made is that the outdoor space is… awkward.

However, you have to start somewhere. In our case, we’re starting with a fully-paved, northwest-facing backyard that’s seven feet wide and 24 feet long. There’s an even narrower, concreted strip up the side of the house and a few sunny, square feet out the front, where — unfortunately — we have to keep the bins.

This is my blank canvas.

small awkward garden london blank canvas
How the previous owner used the space.

The awkward gardener

My name is Dan. I spent the first 19 years of my life on my grandparents’ dairy farm in Australia — where my Grandmother had acres of roses, vegetables and fruit trees. It’s where my love of gardening began.

I spent the next 19 years working as a journalist in Australia and the UK, sometimes writing about gardens (including one feature in Gardening Australia Magazine) but never having one of my own.

These days I work in content marketing and divide my free time between keeping fit and healthy, watching tennis, traveling and daydreaming about plants.

Oh, and my Grandma and I still talk about gardening. A lot.

Dan and Grandma small london garden ideas