Paths, Mirrors and Magic

Suzsi's Garden
Suzsi's Garden

In my little suburban garden, I like to keep the flower beds fairly small. At their widest, mine range between one, or one and a half metres. That way, I have a chance of reaching the back of the bed for pruning and weeding. Any larger, and whatever is at the back has a good chance of being in the ‘Out of Sight, Out of My Mind’ category.

I like to break up larger spaces with a path. Paths invite you to walk into the garden and experience a view from a different angle. My tiny garden measures 5.5m deep x 14m wide out the back. It’s 3m wide at one side and provides a pleasant alfresco place. The photograph illustrates the point where the back garden curls around to the side of the house.

In my path, I have used crushed rock to a depth of about 15cm. To prepare it, I first dug away the soil down to the clay base. Then I used a watering can to apply a strong weedkiller, before laying a double thickness of weed-mat, which lapped up the edge of the garden bed. This ensures that the soil and the stones stay separate.

The path creates the illusion of distance, which is further enhanced by the placement of a mirror on the brick wall at the end of the garden. This doubles the size of the garden, because it’s not immediately obvious that we are looking at a reflection. I’ve disguised the mirror (a simple $25 wardrobe mirror from the Reject Shop) by surrounding it with an arch and placing a small picket gate across the bottom. By doing this, I’ve managed to create the impression that we are looking into the distance – beyond the wall, along another path.

Yes, not smoke and mirrors – this illusion is all paths and mirrors and now you know the trick, it’s simple!

About Suzsi Mandeville 12 Articles
Suzsi Mandeville describes her gardening addiction as one of her three vices – along with writing and white wine! Suzsi has written two historical adventure novels, available on