After nearly a year of toing and froing, making plans, the discovery of one problem after another resulting in more plans, trying to track down someone who would do the job and saving up, work has finally begun on the garden redesign.
When we moved I’d hoped for a garden that would be easy to get started on quickly. I envisaged a summer sowing annuals and creating vegetable beds. Unfortunately very quickly we discovered the garden had drainage problems and not long after we discovered the reason… clay! And a lot of it. The proper thick, claggy stuff. It turns out the soil in the garden was at the bottom of rivers over 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period when Britain was positioned over the equator. It’s quite incredible when I think about it, but it’s also rather annoying. No gardener wants to discover they could supply a potter with clay rather than grow plants.
The results have been a protracted process of trying to work out what we could. Every time we seemed to have settled on a course of action something would crop up. Someone would tell us about their clay soil and how it blocked the drains they put in, then someone else said we needn’t bother with drainage. When the drainage experts came to assess the situation they suggested, unsurprisingly, the whole garden was given over to a network of piping, which would see the planting budget disappear underground.
Our minds swimming and not knowing where to turn we sat down with all the information and came up with a plan of our own. Raised beds with topsoil and drains just where the paths would be. My husband taught himself to use a computer design programme and we finally, after lots of incarnations, designed something we were happy with.
So far 3 skips have been filled with soil, turf, stones and decking and we have what looks like a bombsite out the back. Black piping is snaking across the soil, there are piles of gravel and soil and an uncovered slab of concrete that will become the base for a patio.
We made the most of the unusually warm and dry February weather by painting the fence, transforming it from a bleached buff colour to a slate grey that will be a neutral backdrop to the planting.
There’s a lot still to do. 10 tonnes of hardcore have to be moved by our lovely builder for the base of the gravel paths and stone patio, the patio needs laying and an eye-watering amount of gravel needs to cover the paths. Then the raised beds need to be constructed and filled with topsoil.
We have plans for a greenhouse, but these may need to wait until the bank balance recovers. This will eventually sit next to some of the raised beds where I plan to grow fruit, veg and flowers for cutting. I’ve really missed my old greenhouse and allotment since we moved so I can’t wait to get growing again.
Then there are the plants. I have endless lists of potential plants but narrowing them down is proving tricky. There’s just too much to choose from, but I have at least narrowed down a colour scheme. I’m thinking lilacs, soft pinks and purples with pops of yellow and magenta here and there, made up of flowers that bees and butterflies will love. I can’t wait to get my hands in the soil!