I thought I would mark the relaunch of my blog with an introduction to my garden and thereby give some sense of what I’m working with.
I’ve lived here since 2012 with my partner Russ, and the garden, along with the proximity to the station were pretty high up the list of priorities when it came to deciding to put an offer in. With a full-time job, the garden is my hobby, taking up many an evening and weekend along with the occasional larger project on my days off.
Beginning with the front garden, we inherited a large expanse of gravel where once had been a lawn. Surrounding it are the original borders and in the centre a bed which replaces an area of paving around a sad-looking azalea. Facing NW it benefits from sun in the late afternoon and evening during the summer months but remains the shade in the depths of winter. It has tended to be a little neglected, drying out in the summer, prone to weeds and never really finding its purpose. Two years ago I created the central bed and planted it up with some of my exotics, however the shallow soil and dry conditions during the summer have meant the plants have struggled to do well. I think the time is ripe for another makeover, this time creating a gravel garden to better work with the growing conditions.
The recessed ‘front’ door has provided many an overwintering opportunity throughout the years, since it remains largely frost-free during the winter. Unfortunately its sheltered nature has meant that it is also something of a dumping ground. I am however inspired to use the wood that I have been collecting to build a tabletop display unit to show off plants, old clay pots and found items.
The patio is surprisingly under-utilised, mainly because it has been used as a nursery area for my plants. Some years it has been nigh on impossible to move out there for pots, including a massive Gunnera which finally got its marching orders following the summer of 2019 when there were weeks it needed watering three times per day to stop it from wilting. The table is usually groaning under the weight of seed trays and pots in the spring as I bring on the annuals prior to planting out in the garden. This is another area in need of a bit of tlc so there is always something lovely to look out onto.
One of the newest additions to the garden, along with the wildflower meadow, is the pond. The intention is for this to beome a magnet for wildlife, with planting around the edges to soften the rather rectangular look of it. I am hopeful that we will have frogs spawning this spring, though I haven’t seen any in the garden for a number of years. So far, besides providing much fascination for nextdoor’s cat it has attracted wood pigeons to drink and starlings to bathe in it.
Beyond the pond is the fledgling wildflower meadow. Sown at the end of November using EM5: Meadow Mixture with a nurse crop of EC2: Special Cornfield Mixture from Emorsgate Seeds I am looking forward to our very own ‘Buzz in the Meadow’ during the summer. As you can see from the above photo, germination of some of the annual seeds has already begun, a closer look reveals that some of the grass seed is also starting to germinate.
The ‘long’ border is opposite the pond and mini wildflower meadow and is approximately 8m in length by 1.6m deep. I’m still undecided as to what to plant here. I did consider a wildlife hedge, but that could easily fill the whole space possibly overpowering the garden and shading the pond. Instead I am considering a wild fence – an idea that I read about in ‘Wild Your Garden’ by The Butterfly Brothers. This would take up far less space and allow for a nectar border in front.
Lastly we come to the Echium House. This DIY unheated greenhouse was constructed around an Echium for winter protection. Things however didn’t quite go to plan. What was supposed to be a temporary structure, to be removed before the Echium sent up its flower spike, did such a good job of protecting the plant that it encouraged it to flower early. With the risk of frost too great I had to settle for the flower spike snaking around the roof of the greenhouse, not exactly the spectacular flowering climax that I had anticipated!
Plans for the end of the garden are fairly fluid at the moment but ideally I would like to build my own writing shed to retire to and look out onto my garden.