Spring garden update

I’ve been absolutely itching to upload this garden post on the blog, but I haven’t had the time to write it as I’ve been too busy actually “doing” the garden. It’s still not completely finished, but we’re at the stage now where everything just needs to grow. So prepare yourself for lots of garden rambling.

The last update I wrote took place over a three year period (see the post here for some before photos), whereas the majority of the work completed in this update was mainly over three weekends. In the last post I’d also said that I wanted to have the garden pretty much complete before I returned to work and now I can say we very nearly managed to do this, we’ve only just a few extra jobs that need finishing. So – mission complete!

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Picking up where I left off last time (see photo above), we have finished securing the fence line round the bottom of the garden with the hazel hurdles. We do however need to fix the remaining 6ft fence behind the dog run which is currently just balanced in place. We have, however, built the big planter with sleepers just in front of the dog run which is ready to be filled. Asides from two mallow plants which I’m hoping will grow all big and blowsy, we’re not going to plant anything specific in here this year. Instead I’m just going to throw some of those wildflower seed packets/ bee bombs in so that it fills up quickly for this summer only. That way we can then decide a) what we are capable of growing and b) what we want to grow in there. Our neighbour keeps trying to convince me to grow veg in it and whilst I really like this idea, realistically the dogs would smash it to pieces. So for now wild flowers will do.

planter being made
Jamie building the planter

We’ve dug out the flowerbeds and removed all the weeds both sides of the path and edged them with a lawn/flowerbed divider to make the not so straight line, straighter and easier to maintain. The main work that has been undertaken since the last blog post has been manually shifting 16 tonnes of dirt and levelling it all ready for the lawn. That’s right, 16 tonnes, which is the equivalent of three fully grown Asian elephants! This dirt has gone into the flowerbeds, all the holes dug into the lawn by the dogs and also piled at the bottom of the garden to raise and level the lawn. This was done with the help of my mum and a friend, but Jamie shifted the bulk of it single handed!

Jamie and Billy levelling soil
Jamie and Billy levelling the top soil

I mean, just look how much better it looks already and it hasn’t even got lawn on it yet. We’re currently soaking all of this so that we can top it up with more top soil where needed and then we can get it all seeded.

Levelled ground
12 tonne of dirt down!

Now you need a lot of imagination for the next part as the flowers that are planted still need to grow, but basically how I would like the flowerbeds to grow is with one bed being all purple and peach coloured plants and the other bed all different shades of pink. Think lots of roses, dahlias, lavender and anything swishy and hard to kill plants (recommendations always welcome). I’d like both to be really wild and bushy, mainly owing to my lack of gardening skills, but also to soften the straight lines of the path. Whether this actually works out is obviously a completely different ball game altogether, but in my head it looks amazing! Nevertheless over the past few weeks I’ve been popping into the local garden centres and buying a few plants and packets of seeds here and there (mostly perennials because I can’t be dealing with this every year).

Tin of seeds
The makings of a very lovely seed collection

I’ve mainly bought discounted plants that look a bit worse for wear, as not only are they cheaper, but they grow absolutely fine when they’re taken out of their pots and given a bit of space to grow. Right from the start I knew buying enough plants to cover the length of the flowerbeds would cost more than I was really willing to spend. So to counteract that I kept some of my grandparent’s inheritance aside to just buy flowers. That way in my head I was prepared to spend up to X amount buying plants, bulbs and seeds and I wasn’t spending money I didn’t have. I like to think they would approve as they were both a bit flower mad both at their home and winning competitions at their caravan. I was also lucky enough to receive some garden centre vouchers for my birthday, so this helped too. I also went to the effort of pulling up all the daffodil bulbs (around 60) which were spontaneously growing across the lawn and moved them into the flowerbeds ready for next year.

Selection of plants and bulbs
Garden centre haul

Whilst my mum was here we visited even more garden centres and bought what felt like far too many plants and bulbs, but turned out to be nowhere near enough. Sadly we couldn’t get hold of a Beatrice rose, but we did manage to get hold of two peachy coloured roses which look very similar. We then planted every single bulb and plant, which turned out to be far more back breaking than fun after a while especially as I still need to plant more. But it was worth it as once they all bloom and grow in summer it will look and smell incredible. And who knows, maybe next time my mum comes in the summer she can admire the hard work she has put into this house and garden too? I’m joking of course, I’m sure I can find something for her to do!

Mum patting in the dirt
See, she loves it too much to sit around!

At the bottom of the garden where the lawn meets the stones I’ve planted a load of box plants that will grow into a neat hedge, this is to stop the stones spilling into the grass and to make it easier to mow the lawn. My neighbour has kindly given me two massive box plants so that I can cut and plant them between ours, this way the hedge will bush out a lot quicker. I’ve also planted some evergreen honeysuckle to grow up and around the hazel hurdles and a buddleja (also a gift from our neighbour) to hide the mismatched fencing behind the dog run.

Possibly my favourite part of the garden is our new lounge/ al fresco area designed by my mum aka Sarah Beeny. Literally for the past three years this has been a mountain of rubble and weeds. And now, well, just look at it….

lounge area with fire pit

Who on earth would have thought that this relaxing area of the garden could have come from a pile of rubble? We’ve got two sofas, some small tables, a firepit and a dining table down there now and olive trees to frame the end of the pathway. We’ve still to buy a new BBQ and I want to add lots of big potted plants around the sofas and solar powered fairy lights for those long summer evenings. We may also switch the furniture around so that the view is even prettier from the sofas as you’ll be looking through the flower filled planter to the garden and field, rather than at the bunny shed and a hedge. But for now, what we have is more than good enough!

The last thing we’ve done is just to buy a sofa for the decking. With hindsight, this is something we should have done two years ago as I’ve already been living on it for the past few days (as have Maggie and Arthur), reading books, drinking tea, eating lunch, sunbathing, thinking about everything I should be doing instead…..

So still to do:

  1. Seed the lawn
  2. Fix the last bit of fence
  3. Fill planter with bee bombs
  4. Buy a BBQ
  5. Watch everything grow and enjoy
  6. Post some (fingers crossed amazing) before and after summer photos
oznor
Jamie looking triumphant at how far we’ve come.

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