Looking in to the back garden when we moved in, there wasn’t much to admire. It was completely overgrown and hadn’t been tended for such a long time. The previous owner had been very elderly, so I imagine gardening had been beyond her capabilities. After getting to know my neighbours though, I heard many stories of the lovely garden that once grew here and of the roses that won prizes in competitions.
The first weekend after moving in to our house, my father-in-law drove down and did an amazing job tidying up the garden. A big thank you to Bob!
Despite this being our first garden, I had a clear image from quite early on of what I wanted to achieve. I wanted shapely curves, a carefully positioned mix of evergreens for privacy and lots of lovely flowers planted in a haphazard way to fill all the gaps.
First off, we cleared the garden shed and then hired a jack hammer to break up the two concrete slabs from the end of the garden. There is only one thing I have got angry at the previous owners for – they had a glass house at one point and when they got rid of it, they buried ALL the glass in the garden beds. Even after clearing as much as we could see, we still have to be so careful. Such a dangerous thing to do – arrghhh!!!
I found it slightly odd that the people who live behind us have a shed with a window overlooking our garden…and all those other windows too. Obtaining some privacy was definitely going to be one of our main goals!
After clearing the end of the garden, I focused on the right hand side of the garden because the neighbours had this odd sagging brick wall on the left hand side of the garden and we weren’t sure what needed to be done with it.
I set about creating the shape, not really doing much planting at this stage. Perennials and bulbs just kept popping up and I was happy to watch them, find out what they were and learn how to look after them. Then without much arguing, we managed to put together a garden shed. It was back breaking work to even get to this point and there was still such a long way to go!
We carried on working our way around the boundary and started working on the left hand side. The wonky wall was knocked down with one push and the fence was replaced. I planted our first tree – a dessert apple. Not too sweet, not too tart, just perfect!
We finished creating the curvy shape of the garden and set about tackling some of our privacy issues. I planted some Griselinia along the back left hand corner. The information ticket said they would grow to four metres but they seemed so small…patience isn’t my strong point, but I’m improving 😉
For the next couple of years, we enjoyed many trips to the garden centre. There was tea and cake for Keith, a playground for Timothy, and lots of plants for me. I carried on adding evergreens and the more structural plants. I just watched things grow, learned how to care for them and tried not to kill everything off. I wasn’t always successful – my latest casualty being a weeping cherry tree 🙁
It is amazing the difference a couple years has on a garden. It looks so lush and even though it is quite titchy, I still ask Keith to go for a stroll around the garden. He’s great at indulging me…we hold hands, wander around and I point out all that is new and changing. I never seem to run out of things to appreciate!
The curves had been created and the evergreens were planted, so next we needed to fill all the gaps with flowers, flowers and more flowers. This is something that is still in the development stage. Even though I have had success with some flowers there are still plenty of gaps. This year I set about doing some research about how to create that full English country garden look and have bought seeds and bulbs to try out next year. Something to look forward to…
One other aspect of the garden I want to develop further is the ‘garden to table’ aspect. I want to grow more things we can eat. Our cherry, apple and blueberry bushes have been surprisingly successful so I’m quite keen to get a few more food crops growing. I would like to integrate the food crops into the existing garden beds, rather than section off an area, so I have some investigating to do because I’m not too sure how to do this.
This morning Timothy and I cooked an apple and blackberry crumble with apples from our tree and blackberries from the little wooded area at the end of our road. You would think I live in the country, not in busy and bustling London. I have learnt a lot from creating my first garden but the biggest surprise is how gardening has been good for my soul…it is never a chore and the hours I spend gardening just disappear without me noticing.
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