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Dalston man shortlisted for Gardeners' World's best small garden in UK award

PUBLISHED: 09:18 26 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:14 26 April 2018

Mike Spezzano in his garden in Stannard Mews. Picture: Polly Hancock

Mike Spezzano in his garden in Stannard Mews. Picture: Polly Hancock

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A green-fingered Dalston man who filled his garden with plants from Columbia Road is in line to win a national award.

Mike Spezzano's award-winning garden in Dalston.Mike Spezzano's award-winning garden in Dalston.

Mike Spezzano’s back yard has been shortlisted in the Gardeners’ World Every Space Counts competition to find the best small garden the country.

He says he was inspired to create his exotic garden after visiting countries where he found himself surrounded by palm trees, banana trees and other exotic plants.

Mike, 46, explained: “When I first moved into the flat in 2006 I decided to treat the garden just like another room, but instead of decorating it with chairs, tables and other furniture, I used plants.

“It started off as some decking, mainly grass with a few plants in the narrow borders.

Mike Spezzano's award-winning garden in Dalston.Mike Spezzano's award-winning garden in Dalston.

“I turned over the grass to create a blank canvas and then started moving in the plants.

“Only one plant remains from the original garden which is the laurel. Once I was happy with the layout and the planting, I covered the area with weed control fabric and then stone chippings.

“I wanted a lush green garden all year round, but a low maintenance one at the same time.”

Mike decided to grow upwards to make the space look bigger and open up space below for underplanting. So he planted bamboo, bananas and fatsias.

Mike Spezzano's award-winning garden in Dalston.Mike Spezzano's award-winning garden in Dalston.

“I painted the fence black to create the illusion that the space is bigger than it is, making the fence fade into the background and allowing the greenery to stand out more.

“One of the challenges I faced was that only half the garden gets full sun and so I had to find plants happy in the shade and those that would tolerate full sun. The other challenge has become trying to reach the top of the banana to trim it and tidy it up!”

Mike can be seen talking about his garden on BBC iPlayer after his appearance on Gardeners’ World last week.

He will find out whether he’s won in early June. But he’s already happy, because he gets to enjoy his creation all year round.

“My garden is special to me because scattered around it are reminders of some of the places I’ve been to over the years,” he said.

“Its a secluded space to come and relax in after a long day in the city, or somewhere to sit before the day starts, a space that makes you feel as if you’re back on holiday and not in the heart of a sometimes smoggy London.

“Snow, rain or shine, it’s a nice space to spend some time in.”

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