Sunday, 28 August 2011

Gardening leave

Hello there, we have been working hard inside and outside the house. The garden was so overgrown it has taken me weeks to tidy but despite lots of hours spent outdoors it's not finished yet! My partner has been busy indoors devising storage solutions as we have much less storage than in our previous house - the downstairs toilet is very nice to have but I miss the understairs cupboard!

How to plant when your soil is as hard as rock

The soil in my garden is not poor but it's hard to dig as it has been drier than usual and there is a congestion of roots of trees, ivy and various shrubs. After clearing and trimming various shrubs and trees, I dampened the soil for a few days then deployed a pickaxe to break the earth and roots. I dug holes for small plants with one of those toothed metal funnels you normally use for planting bulbs and used a sharp-end spade for digging bigger holes. The pickaxe worked a treat, I'm not provided with good muscles like Charlie Dimmock but I am getting some!

Garden makeover - phase one

Here are five photos of what the garden looked like. The grass was quite tall as you can see and the summer house was chocked by various trees and shrubs.

Below, a butterfly bush is dominating the border. As I have discovered at my other house, if you don't trim your buddleia, it grows to six foot tall in a summer!

Opposite the buddleia is a photo of the back garden, the bit after that nice arch I showed on a previous post. It's not as pretty as the first half and it was seriously overgrown with less attractive specimens (bramble, creepers, ivy, the lot!). You can just spot some espalier apple trees chocked by greenery.

We go back to the front with the next picture, which is quite close to the house on the garage's side. Another fast grower is taking lots of space here, it's an elderflower tree in the making. I had a huge one in my previous house and I'm not letting this one grow like a monster.

This last pic is by the greenhouse. There a few attractive plants at the front but the rest is bramble and nettles. Keep scrolling and you will see a transformation!

First of all, see below a picture of the whole first half of the garden, now a great space for entertaining. The greenhouse will be tackled next year (it needs re-roofing, painting and making into a pretty place to while away sunny days!).

The overall garden, trimmed, planted and grass cut

I might have to trim the tops of some trees in winter but most of the hard work is done. After the greenhouse there is the other half of the garden, which was designed as kitchen garden and has been the greatest challenge due to widespread bramble and nettles - I can understand why people ran away after a quick look at it.

The next photo shows some young plants I planted after pickaxing a very congested area full of brambles. These were the only brambles in the first half of the garden. I let the fruit ripen, picked it then cut the plants down. The blackberries that were not eaten are in the freezer, earmarked for jam.  I planted two butterfly bushes, one with purple and one with yellow flowers. They will fill the gap and I can control them through pruning. There are also a fern, some primroses and sundry other small plants at the front of the flower bed.

The next photo is of the bit near the house, where an elderflower and some weeds lorded over the flower bed. Again, a few pretty plants, including some pelargonium, violets and a forsythia.

Next to that flower bed was one with two huge bushes, they were so overgrown that one had a bird's nest inside, complete with pretty but empty blue egg.

And the photo with the fence shows the espalier apples free from all climbers and invasive bushes... There is even a pear tree among them.

And the last photo of the garden (below) is opposite the apples, by the greenhouse. The bramble has been cut back so it is trailing along the fence again, as the previous owner intended. It also climbs one side of the greenhouse but it's much neater and contained. The blackberries were so delicious I decided to keep some of the bramble bushes. It's a good complement to the blackcurrant and raspberries bushes I found among the bramble and planted myself.

In this photo you can see one of the two big apple trees, which are a bit diseased but laden with fruit. You can also spot a rhododendron just after the currant bush, there are several all over the gardens, which alongside plenty of bulbs I have found means the garden will look wonderful in spring.

Inside the 1930s house - where to hang coats...

We had a lovely coat rack in our previous house, which we left behind and now they don't sell that model anymore! We soon realised that the choice of coat racks and coat stands is very limited. If you don't want to pay over the odds, what is up for sale in most stores is just hideous or inadequate!

As my partner was buying some wood to increase storage in our alcoves and bedroom closets, he came up with the idea of buying a piece of wood and attaching the 1930s hook we found in the bedroom closets. The top rack is for us, the lower one is for our daughter. We plan to stain them dark to match the wooden bookshelf opposite. I must take a photo as it's a really impressive piece of furniture my dad made for me. The hooks had a brass coating but it has been eroded, so after we removed years of grime, we ended up with this kind of hook....

Last but not least, here are some apples from our big trees, one is a quaint golden variety I have never seen, check out the oval shape... They will be used to make bramble and apple jam, which I have already made when living in Rugby where we had brambles at the bottom of the garden and two apple trees.

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