Leaving the garden alone
There have been a few changes in my life over the last few months, the largest probably being the house move. Gone is the acre garden with the myriad of raised beds and natural woodland overlooking the Swilly to a more modest, but beautiful semi detached bungalow in the town.
The overgrown garden is half taken up with a crumbling double garage complete with internal ivy dangling down from the rafters and the trampoline that originally looked tiny in the garden it was originally bought for, but now looks extremely out of place. Its fun to see children bouncing on it though so it will stay for while until we decide what to do with the garden to put our stamp on it.
I’m intending to let nearly everything else stay in the overgrown garden for now. The last owner of this 80 year old house planted the garden with a lot of shrubs and bulbs, which are now appearing everywhere as the mild winter weather continues. There is a hard standing area at the top of the garden that looks like it used to be a greenhouse with only a small concrete wall surviving over the years; we unearthed this when we were hacking back the overgrown rhododendrons and holly. It looks like the birds have had a hand at planting over the years as self set cotoneaster has emerged at the edge of the paths. As yet these are the only shrubs I have dug out as the roots can be very damaging. There is one bulb I am trying to remove now that smells like onion but as yet I can’t identify it. All I know is that it is very invasive and hardy; spreading onto most areas in the garden and it’s even growing along the edge of the house wall. I can dig out the tiny bulbs that are in the soft earth but the ones that pop up along the gap in the concrete are more difficult and appear to be immune to any natural weed killers that have been poured on them.
Resistance is futile
It’s a bit difficult for me to show so much restraint with the new – old garden. I’m usually straight in there with my mattock and any petrol powered machines that I can get my hand on removing anything and everything. The fact that I can’t get any machinery into the garden through the narrow gate is probably a good thing as this will give us time to decide exactly what to do with the area with the design and layout that best suits our needs.
The things we know we need are:
- Washing line
- Vegetable raised beds
- Area for the dogs to play
- Bit of lawn
That’s about it up to yet, pretty basic really. It doesn’t sound too taxing but even deciding where to place the patio is proving to be difficult. The summer sun manages to shine onto most areas of the (nearly) south facing garden throughout the day and so in the height of the growing season you would think the patio could be placed anywhere. Wrong. In the winter months the sun is so low that certain large areas of the garden are blocked off from sunlight by either ours or the neighbour’s rooftops. Not that we get much chance to sit out in the winter but it’s something to take into consideration, just like what the area will be made of. I initially suggested decking outside the patio doors but the lack of sunlight will turn the planks to an algae farm, breeding masses of the slippery stuff. I could go out and clean it off and treat it like an extension of the house, but I know it’ll never happen.
Everybody needs neighbours
The other bit of work that I needed to do a little while after moving in was to secure the perimeter. We have something here that we haven’t had for years. Neighbours. We are used to having the freedom to let our dogs roam about in the countryside on their own and not get into mischief. Being on an estate has made me realise that our two dogs have no sense of boundaries and jump over any that get in there way. They happily introduce themselves to anyone whose dinner smells the nicest, optimistically sitting outside the neighbours back doors with their noses twitching. It doesn’t go down too well so I have built a very effective barrier from 2×1 lengths of wood and secured these to the three foot boundary wall, raising it to over 5 feet. I know it’s only a question of time until they find a way through the barricade but it’s doing the trick for now.
I’m enjoying every day in the garden as I am finding something new in every corner from the bulbs to perennial plants that are now emerging.
It’s a waiting game though because unlike the dogs I am thinking of a way into the garden not out of it – with a mini digger. I will document the plants that emerge of course and put them aside for replanting. Then the fun can commence and I can dig everything else up. I can’t wait!