Storms Ali and Bronagh, with their gale force winds and rain, have brought our hopes of a long Indian Summer to an abrupt end and there are even rumours of the first frosts in the coming days. And so thoughts turn to clearing the garden, to putting as many tender plants as possible undercover and to wrapping still more in-situ. More than that I feel changes are coming. This summer I have felt like a slave to the garden, the endless cycle of watering became a real chore and took all the fun out of being in the garden. Another notable feature of the garden this year were the breeding pair of hedgehogs that moved into the hedgehog house and raised three hoglets. Together with an itinerant male who made twilight raids on the food bowls before being seen off by the parents, we have enjoyed a window into the lives of six hedgehogs this summer. To be honest it’s the first time that Russ has shown so much interest in the garden and he is keen for us to do more to encourage wildlife into our garden.
With watering and hedgehogs in mind a plan is forming for some significant changes to the garden. I still need my fix of exotic plants but I intend to grow as much as possible in the ground rather than have so many in pots. To that end I have in mind a new central bed in the front garden where there is currently paving that I’ve been using as hard standing for my pots. The front garden will be turned over to mainly exotic foliage planting which I will keep irrigated with a hosepipe. The raised beds around the patio will be finished and filled with flowering exotics and lots of scent. Since neither of us sit out in the sun, creating a feeling of enclosure around the patio is more important that maintaining the existing suntrap. A few strategically place large pots should mean that the watering here will also be relatively easy.
It’s beyond the patio that the biggest changes will happen, for it’s here that I want to create a wildlife-friendly, low maintenance, sustainable garden. This will necessitate moving some plants around, possibly not growing some plants any longer and introducing a lot of new ones. Most of the back garden has been inaccessible over the summer, unless you have been prepared to tip-toe through the jungle, only to find that there was nowhere to relax and enjoy the garden. So another objective is to create space in the garden so that we can both sit back and enjoy the garden. I can’t remember the last time that Russ ventured to the end of the garden, the only times he’s seen it recently have been in my photos!
There’s a whole part of the garden, beyond the Echium House (my purpose-built wooden-framed polytunnel) that is under utilised so I still have plenty of potential and hopefully enough space to put in a small wildlife pond with seating nearby so that we can observe the comings and goings of frogs and damselflies and of water boatmen and pond skaters.
I know that I’m going to have my work cut out this autumn and winter, especially as it all needs to happen on a tight budget, however for the first time in four years I’m not studying and so I do have more time to devote to the garden. Also for the first time in the six years since we moved in I feel that I truly have a vision for the garden. I’m sure there will be problems and I’m probably being over ambitious expecting to achieve all of the changes in a few months but I won’t know unless I give it a go!