We made a good deal more progress yesterday with the garden, and in fact one more push will see all the gravel down and the basic structure complete. Then it will just be weeding, adding new plants as the fancy takes me, and sitting there smugly enjoying it.
So in just under a year we have gone from this:
We had to start with the bank at the bottom end of the garden. Go back to the first photo. See that mass of dead branches with brambles growing up through it? Well, it turned out to be less awful than it first appeared, as there is actually an earth bank under that lot. Over a number of days, some last summer and the rest this January, we cleared the branches. Most of them, once the leaves were stripped off, have been fitted behind the trunks of the conifers ( you can see them on the right in the last photo) and look a bit like a wattle fence. They might get moved – we have a friend who might have some for her woodburner – but for now they are tidied away and providing a haven for wildlife.
We tried last year to get the lawn looking decent, but in all honesty it’s terrible grass so we asked the landlord if he’d mind us taking it up. He shrugged and said “Go for it,” so we did. We planned a flower bed down the middle, with the existing concrete path down one side and gravel down the other. We have used salvaged soil and some of the turf to extend the bank around the curving gravel path, and the rest of the turf to cover the bank.
We found a few plants in clearing the bank – a rose and a mahonia which are enjoying their new-found access to sunlight and air, and a couple of pampas grasses, one of which is definitely dead and the other is struggling. We have added a choisyia, buddleia, euonymus, broom and hellebores, along with some bulbs from pots which have now finished flowering but will no doubt brighten the bank up next spring.
The main planting area has benefitted from some plants we already had in pots (acer, dicentra, French lavender), some we bought (potentilla, more lavenders, dwarf hebes) and some donations from J’s mum (who also gave us the euonymus and hellebores – hostas, violets, campanula and sedum amongst others) . No doubt there’ll be more photos as they all settle in and start to flower.
Watch this space!