This week we have had rain. Finally after a scorching heatwave it rained on Friday solidly all afternoon. Since I had put up my rainguage on Thursday evening (my colleagues think I’m nuts for my obsessive folowing of weather predictions) I was able to accurately measure 29 mm. On Saturday we got a follow up 6 mm. When I went out in the evening to check it I heard my neighbours automatic sprinkers going on. Technically they’re allowed since restictions only prohibit watering gardens between 6 am and 6 pm – what a bunch of slug buckets.
I came across a gardening journal I kept for a week in 2011 and it was facinating. I wish I’d kept it for longer so I’ve started another and the first thing I did was write ‘some Serious gardening goals – keep the journal going all year.’ I underlined ‘serious’ so that when I find it in five years time with only the first week’s entries written out I’ll know how serious I was.
My other goals are
a wildlife pond (last attempt a disaster)
harvest something everyweek from my veg garden from March
reclaim unused spaces and provide seating areas, specifically (its important when setting goals to be specific) the Rose Garden, the North Corner and the Avenue.
I like giving grand names to all the little bits of my garden especially the ones that look as though the house is abandoned. The Rose Garden, for instance, is a bit of my drive way that I dug up after a very inspirational rose garden tour. I didn’t get very far with it, roses are expensive and blah blah insert excuses here; anyway it looks dreadful. It’s also right at the front door so you can’t miss it inless you choose not to go out of the house. Since I can’t do that I’m going to have to make it into a fabulous garden.
I have a lot more goals but I thought I should only write down a few and focus on those. Like having too many tabs open on your computer I suspect too many things to focus on slows down your performance. If you’re naturally a too many tabs open kind of person then you have to focus on cutting down your focusses which of course is just one more thing to focus on.
On a positive note, even if it all goes to pot now and I get distracted by whatever it is that usually distracts me, the veg garden I planted out in the weeks around the world spinning from 2015 to 2016 looks pretty awesome and the potatoes are doing marvelously. For some reason potatoes seem to be my most dependable crop and if nothing else we’ll get a good lot of them.
Spring has poked it’s nose in and retreated again, like a cat trying to decide whether or not it wants to come in; while it’s owner stands holding the door open and freezing. At any rate it won’t be long before it comes all the way in, promptly followed by summer. Time to get on with planning the veg garden.
There is no formal layout. I’m starting to wish I had put down straight rows of paths for the methodicalness and aesthetics of it if nothing else. Will do that next year.
Of course there is A LOT of garlic in already, some onions, possibly a couple of leeks and a few peas. I planted some more peas because most of them didn’t grow. Probably eaten by chickens. I planted out my brassica seedlings (now fenced because of chickens dust bathing) but I have a feeling we’re in the wrong season. Oops.
I’ve made a list of veggies I want to grow based on what we eat – lettuce, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, peas, beans, beetroot, carrots, sweetcorn, potatoes, peppers, squashes, melons – and I’ll probably add some others along the way.
I’ve already started planted some seeds in little paper pots but that’s another post.
Some gardens are meant to evolve over time, dependent on the whims of people and nature. I am talking about cottage gardens of course. I love them and having been suffering through my ongoing addiction to British gardening programmes I have decided to make one in the top garden and the herb garden.
The herb garden is a little alcove bit off the top garden which one of the kitchen windows look out on that a previous gardener planetd up with herbs; it’s not really suitable though because it gets hardly any sun. The top garden is a terraced piece at the back of the house. The terrace wall curves inwards which gives it a strange shape. Formerly I implemented a yellow and purple scheme, yellow on one side with a purple creeper covering the wall behind and purple the other, with a yellow creeper dripping off the mulberry tree above. It never truly worked and it has ended up being a bit of garden hardly ever used. It also has my disaster of a pond in which, I am sorry to say, sits directly underneath a mulberry tree.
There is a tiled green half oval patio (all the patios are tiled in an awful green tile) outside the door of a small room which opens out onto the garden. The part along the house is in full shade all day apart from a few wisps of dying sunlight. There are a few established shrubs and the fruit trees are creating a fence along the edge of the terrace with arches over the paths down to the vegetable garden. I’ve decided to keep a circular lawn off the patio and dig up the rest of the grass and plant STUFF. Anything and everything can go in here, lots of herbs and flowers and perennial vegetables. I tend to stick to restricted palettes and I’m thinking of a slightly formal, structured design in the front so it will be great to have an free area where anything goes. If I see something I like I’m going to put it in. Also of course I’m going to try and fix the pond.
About four years ago, after an overly inspiring Rose Tour which they sadly (maybe fortunately) don’t run any more, I ripped up a part of my driveway and put in the rose garden. Roses are expensive though so although I did VERY detailed plans I never managed to finish it. The soil is dreadful, despite a huge amount of compost going, and, though some of the roses struggled valiantly, some of them have died. I haven’t given up on my rose garden, I’m just making it a long term plan. For now I intend to transplant all the roses that were in there into the cutting garden. Madness I know, the soil there is not much better but we have dug a massive trench and will fill it almost entirely with compost. Then I’m going to add more compost to the rose garden and plant it with annuals for the next few years.
The Design PlanI’m using heritage ‘Old Spice’ mixed sweet peas on teepees in the centre and surrounding them with clarkia. At the back are the existing ‘Great North’, a stunning white spire rose with a lovely scent. I want to put in a storage tank to collect the water that comes from the neighbour’s down pipe and through that wall but I have to make it into an attractive feature. Behind that is a viburnum hedge on top of the retaining wall. All the beds are edged in low hedges of a plant whose name I know well but currently escapes me.
The Plan of Action
It’s a bit unfair as this is mid demolition but this is what the rose garden currently looks like. I had a bit of a pond in the middle surrounded by bricks which I’ve dismantled. The Hybrid Teas which are to be moved have been pruned back hard in anticipation.
July 1st! It is officially half way through the year and I have a plan for the rest of it. In the next six months I’m going to transform my property into a beautiful, organic garden that will feed me, give me flowers for the house and provide a sanctuary for wildlife and for me. This is not terribly ambitious as summer will completely transform the garden without my help but I’ll be planning out each section of my garden and, hopefully, putting my plans into action over the next few months.
To start with I’ve drawn up a basic plan of my garden (I did it on Paint) and divided it into different sections. This helps to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the size of it because I can focus on each area as a separate garden. Some of the work is already underway, like in the veg garden, but I’ll be drawing up proper(ish) designs for the sections and deciding what to put in on paper rather than relying on impulse buys. Well here goes the rest of the year!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain