Well, as you can see I did my usual trick of disappearing into the garden at the first sign of spring. My kitchen has been abandoned to languish in the doldrums of pasta and pesto dinners as I spend every spare minute of daylight out in my garden trying to put in all the groundwork so that come that ever so fleeting British Summertime I can enjoy the fruits of my labours in my idylic little patch!
However, this year I figured that instead of allowing you to be greeted by radio silence perhaps you might like to see what I’ve been up to. It will all loop back to food eventually, I have plans for a bit of a veg patch and am already anticipating a gorgeous glut of courgettes to reward me come summer. And let’s not forget the BBQs I’m already planning on my cosy little patio!
Now, when I moved into this house in September this is what I started with:
In some ways it is perfect, a blank canvas! But it was very far away from the garden I dreamed of. I love that typical English Cottage Garden look, big beds full of flowers all year round, a little patio area perfect to while away the summer evenings and long weekends, a place where friends can gather and relax. So I have a lot of work cut out for me!
I had a bit of a head start in that all of my plants at my last house were in pots as I had only had a yard there so I had the filling, it was the structure that I was lacking!
The first major change was that nextdoor (who moved in around the same time as me) decided to redo their fence. Now, technically that one is my fence but they were paying and I didn’t object! Not neccessarily the fence I would have chosen myself but infinitely better value!
An unexpected challenge was what to do about all of the local cats who had decided that my lawn was their litter box. You can see the sonic scarer I put in first… don’t bother. As far as I can tell it scared away may be one of the cats. The rest continued until I finally hit upon Wilkos’ Cat and Dog Repellent Granuals, they’re awfully garlicy but they WORK! I’m still not done fighting this particular war but it’s down to the occasional skirmish now.
My first major step in the garden was to start by putting in the large flower bed I wanted… well, I wanted to eradicate the lawn competely and give over the entire garden to flower beds but I was over ruled by my mother, who pointed out that I would want somewhere to put a sun lounger in the summer and could I really afford to plant up the whole garden in one go? The woman had a point and so I cut a 90cm border down the right hand side of the lawn. I did it all properly, measuring and marking with string, using a long plank to keep the edge straight. Let me tell you that was a labour of love! I saved all the turf and made a loam pile too (more of which in a later post!)
Having spent hours digging up turf, digging over the soil and adding compost (with a knackered back following a car crash no less!) I then decided that 90cm was too narrow and I added an extra 20cm strip to the edge. This allowed the outside edge of the edging to finish in line with a paving slab at the top, which looked a lot better at that end and also alowed me to retain a decent sized border even with the flat edging I wanted to use. That edging is a stroke of recycling genuis on my part! Those are the fire bricks I salvaged from the storage heaters at my last house and then brought with me to this house. (Over the vehement objections of my parents! Ha, suck it!) They are flat to the lawn and the bed, which will allow me to mow right up to the edge of the lawn without a bit of bother. If I’m keeping the lawn, I’m making it as painless as possible!
The read of the bed is edged with salvaged slate roof tiles. The garden next door is at a lower level than mine so at some pointe the soil on my side is a good few inches up the fence so the idea behind the slates is to just give the fence a little bit of protection from the soil. Also, I just really love slate!
Next the plants in their pots were placed in the positions I thought I wanted them to go in in the bed. The basic idea is herbs nearest the patio and back door for easy cooking access. Then a section for flowers, then shrubs at the far end with a small section of roses furthest away. I really took my time over this bit making sure I was happy and had thought each bit through, how high the plants would grow, when they would flower etc.
And finally, the plants go into the bed at long last! I’m pretty sure I’ve covered all of my bases and this arrangement should grow into exactly the kind of bed I want. There’s still some room for additions and changes and everything should fill out nicely.
I’ll do another post to show some of my inspirations that are guiding the project. My Pinterest has an ever growing collection of ideas and inspirations. I’m also a huge National Trust fan and visit all sorts of places with a special love for the gardens. If I can end up with a garden that is even vaguely remeniscent of some of my favourite gardens then I shall be happy indeed!