‘The first thing I wanted to do when we moved here,’ says Suzette Fuller of her garden at 42 Falconer Road in Bushey ‘was to take all the lawn up and pave the garden.’

A radical approach to gardening, even more so as this was several decades ago. Suzette wanted something different, something new, and liked the idea of having a paved garden with shingle and pebble areas to create small rockery-type features and as a base to put displays of plants in many containers.

Great British Life: Birdcage corner CREDIT Julie Meadows Birdcage corner CREDIT Julie Meadows

Suzette began to collect old chimney pots which she planted with pretty annuals and old stone butler’s sinks which are perfect for displaying alpine plants. Height in this small garden comes from old telegraph-style posts which have hanging planted arrangements. ‘Most people wondered what on earth I was doing in the garden and scratched their heads,’ laughs Suzette ‘but I knew the effect I wanted to create and just carried on adding things until I achieved this.’

Great British Life: Suzette's sun-ray pergola CREDIT Julie MeadowsSuzette's sun-ray pergola CREDIT Julie Meadows

The garden still has the same paving defining the paths and other spaces and Suzette’s mission to create something a bit different has resulted in an eclectic mix of objects, ornaments and plants sitting happily together in an unusual garden space. Shortly after the garden was started, something caught Suzette’s eye in an antique shop which was the beginnings of a new collecting passion. ‘I absolutely love birdcages,’ she animatedly says ‘and I’ve got hundreds of them.’ As well as making appealing containers which add a bit of fun in the garden, some are planted, some are just for the delight of their decoration, the house is also brimming with them. Suzette likes hanging baskets as well and creates a lovely display of these from a ‘sun ray’ style pergola in the centre of the garden which she designed. Climbing roses, jasmine and clematis also adorn this area which gives height and a lovely focal point in this part of the garden.

Great British Life: Bedding plants and sparkling chandliers CREDIT Julie MeadowsBedding plants and sparkling chandliers CREDIT Julie Meadows

For a small garden measuring just 140ft long, Suzette has packed a lot of charm and the unexpected into the outside space of this Victorian house. ‘I like to rescue things from skips that would make unusual planters,’ she smiles ‘then I paint them pink or white and fill with flowering plants of the same colour.’ Added to the mix are old stoneware flagons, shells, wicker baskets, iron urns, water pumps, old windows and various statues. There’s even a secret doorway complete with an old door and canopy. A magical place in the daytime, the garden’s appeal is further extended after dark when thousands of tiny lights sparkle and twinkle in every space.

Great British Life: Plants and collectables in harmony CREDIT Julie MeadowsPlants and collectables in harmony CREDIT Julie Meadows

‘They are solar lights so nice and easy to put in,’ Suzette explains ‘but it can get a bit tricky pruning the climbers as they are becoming entwined around the lights.’ Friends and family are never short of ideas of what to buy her for birthdays and Christmas, whether it’s birdcages or solar lights. Suzette looks after the garden mostly by herself with a little bit of help from husband Vic. She confesses to not being a ‘gardener’ and chops things back here and there, everything recovers well, and grows many of the seasonal plants earlier in the year from plugs. This is the tenth year that the garden has been opened for the NGS and the twinkling lights make it a fairyland for all to enjoy. Bring a torch when you visit!

Great British Life: Chandeliers CREDIT Julie MeadowsChandeliers CREDIT Julie Meadows

Nightime garden visit

42 Falconer Road


Hertfordshire WD23 3AD

Garden open for NGS on Sunday 12 November from 7-9.30pm. Admission £4.00, children free. Mulled wine and mince pies available. Visit the NGS website at www.ng.org.uk for further information.

Great British Life: A dance ball to reflect the light CREDIT Julie MeadowsA dance ball to reflect the light CREDIT Julie Meadows


Clever lighting is the key ingredient for bringing wow-factor to your garden at night.

Illuminate steps and paths

If you have level changes and steps, it is good to focus on these areas first for safety at night. There are various options available, and make sure that lighting in these areas doesn’t dazzle you. Don’t forget about driveways, and install lights for ease of parking on dark nights. Warm white LED lighting is perfect for outdoor spaces and less harsh.

Incorporate lights into your borders

If you are proud of your borders, illuminate these with carefully positioned solar lights or spotlights connected to an outside electric source. You can also entwine tree trunks with solar-powered string lights or carefully position uplighters to highlight the branches and shape of your tree or shrub.

Use mirrors

There are some good outdoor mirror designs which will reflect light into darker areas, as well as make your garden seem bigger. Position lights nearby for the mirror to catch the light.

Highlight your garden features

Add layers of light to outdoor dining areas with lanterns, solar-powered candles and festoon lights. If you have a pergola or archway, use festoon lights to highlight this.