Here is the January 2018 State of the Garden update.
I intend to do one of these each month, drawing together any changes made over the last few weeks. The January 2018 State of the Garden needs to be a little different though. Really, I need to bring you up to date with our starting point.
Let’s do this chronologically.
In First Steps, I spoke a little about our history in this house.
We moved in at the end of 2015. Moving in from an urban terraced house, we maybe tripled the floor space in which we lived.
The move took a lot out of us.
Young Robin had lived in the one and only home since birth, and moving home also meant a necessary change of school. Workplaces for the adults were now further away, entailing a bit more time and thought regarding commuting.
The circumstances surrounding our moving here were fraught with luck: the kind of luck that works out in the end.
We managed to sell our old home after a while on the market. In that time some other houses we really loved the look of had come and gone. At the end, we sold our old home to a buyer who intended to rent it – so we became their first tenant while we looked for the right home to buy.
Finding this home
All this time the house we ended up owning had been on the market, but out of our price reach. At about the same time we completed our sale, the price dropped. It was affordable: barely.
We came to see it and although I and Robin liked it, Theo didn’t like it on first visit.
So we went to see another house in the area, newer, with a smaller garden. It was about the same list price and the owners were desperate to move. But they had cats (many cats) and young Robin is allergic. We would have had to strip the house of carpet and redecorate everything before I would have been confident living there.
In the end, it was this garden that was the deciding factor.
A lot needed us to work on it, and crucially, with no money spare. We put everything into the capital asset of owning the land and the building. Even redecorating had to wait, let alone the garden.
2016 State of the Garden
The very first thing that had to happen, apart from cutting the grass regularly, was young Robin’s trampoline. Promises made should be kept.
You can see in this picture that the original decking is still in place to the left. It was as rotten as hell. The section outside the back door had almost rotted through entirely.
We had the decking replaced. Even more fun, we had a swing frame made of new railway sleepers put up.
You can also see that we have started to remove some of the hedging. The mature hedges gave the garden a sense of deep privacy and acted as a good windbreak. However we found out that they were Leylandii – and very overgrown at that. They had to be a good 3 metres high (maybe more) and maybe half as wide. Meanwhile our neighbours were quietly cutting it back on their side each year.
Our right hand boundary had no other fence between us and our neighbour, and it was solidly encroaching on their side as well as eating our shed. It was impossible to replace the shed felt roof, which was leaking ferociously. There was no access behind the shed any more. Just tree.
You can see in this shot the amount of shade the trees cast. For at least a metre on each side, the ground was parched and dry, and lacked light.
Radical cut back would not have worked. Obviously they had to go as Leylandii just don’t regrow from dead wood areas.
On the positive side, it was so lovely to have a garden.
2017 State of the Garden
Late 2016 saw the replacement of the decking. Early 2017 saw the replacement of the hedges.
On a cold wet week in January a team from Beechdale Fencing (I do recommend them) came in. They cut down all the Leylandii, ground the stumps down and fitted new concrete posts and wooden fence panels. On both sides of our garden. The branches were woodchipped. The wood was cut up and taken away.
So it was that our lawn was predictably wrecked. It looked like a battlefield out there. We just ignored it, and let it sort itself out.
By summer we were lazing on clover-thick lawn again.
Generally we just took care of maintenance in that year.
Pyracantha bushes were cut back. Nasturtiums were planted in the front garden and took over. We put a new roof on the shed and painted it so brightly it looks like a beach hut!
2018 State of the Garden
So here we are, all caught up on so much time in less than a thousand words!
Today’s state of the garden: warts and all. While I was taking this picture I had to resist the urge to rush outside and tidy up first.
As can be seen, it’s a big garden. 18.5 metres long, 15.5 metres wide. The trampoline remains in place and loved. The fences make a really big difference.
There’s a lot to do: we have a long journey ahead of us.
The first two steps are immediately ahead. We’re going to install some chickens! So there needs to be a big tidy up first.
And secondly I need to draw myself a nice scale map of the garden so that I can plot and plan. The garden is so big that if I don’t focus on one little thing at a time, I’m going to feel intimidated.
Watch out for more garden updates soon. The sun was out today!