Panic Over!

Phew!  Have been round to see my Dad this morning and I am thrilled to say that all the seedlings are pretty much how I left them and I will still have a selection of plants for my garden come Spring time – Yay!

Further good news is that Dad is going to start work on erecting the polytunnel for me this week – Get In!  Am so excited about getting my sanctuary back and also being able to get on with things even when the weather is as abysmal as it is again today.  Unfortunately the weather is looking unsettled for the rest of the week so chances of me getting outside for any prolonged period at the moment are looking slim 😦

I have found a rather wintry picture of my old garden for you to see.  This should give you an idea of the long, flat garden I left behind and help you to understand the learning curve I have when it comes to gardening on a slope.

20130118_101217

As you can see,  a much larger space which I miss, but the soil was a heavy, wet clay which I can guarantee you I don’t miss!  Also, please don’t think that this amount of snow is normal for where I live – it isn’t.  I live in Worcester and it NEVER snows here.  This couple of inches was enough to put the whole city into lock down for about 2 days – pathetic!

Going back to my ‘new garden’ I have decided to use softwood sleepers to add structure to the garden.  I rather like these:

Bradfords Softwood Sleeper

As much as I would literally like to get an excavator and several skips to completely flatten the garden, this is wholly infeasible so will have to flatten it out the best I can or at least use a few tricks of the eye with some clever planting. I think these sleepers will help me to achieve the clean lines I am looking for or at least I hope they do 😉

Hark at that wind!

Annoyingly, we have been hit with another day of strong wind, with gusts in the region of 45 -50 mph.  I think you’ll agree not great weather for gardening and certainly not ideal weather for putting up my polytunnel 😦 We have been forecast the same for tomorrow so am feeling more than a little frustrated that I am not able to get into the garden.

Another area of concern was a text message I received from my Dad earlier.  I had taken some seedlings over to Mum and Dad’s as I really have no where in the garden to put up my temporary greenhouses where I would be confident that they would stay standing in these awful (and alarmingly frequent) high winds we have been having.  Thankfully, Mum has allowed me to put some cell trays into her greenhouse to look after them whilst I wait for my tunnel to go up.  Now please bear in mind that my wonderful green-fingered Mum has been visiting her Sister since Wednesday and it’s now Sunday.  Message from Dad:

“I reckon these plants need watering – they look a bit…..not well”

So, after a quick phone call, he then told me that he had found the water sprayer and has given them a good drink.  I am not able to go up to theirs’ until tomorrow, but fingers crossed the majority of them will have survived.  Apparently. he “meant” to water them the other day for me as Mum had told him to (God bless her), but had forgotten as he started tying hooks for a fishing competition he had on Friday!!!

Aster - Duchess Yellow

So, whilst I worry that the gorgeous ‘Duchess Yellow’ Aster’s I had planned for my new garden might not actually make it now, I still need to focus on everything else.

I had mentioned my invading weed problem to my Mum’s neighbour Wendy, an inspirational woman who completely blames me for her newly revived passion in gardening :).  Last spring, she had her lawn replaced with artificial turf (not for everyone’s taste, but to be fair, the contractors she used did a fantastic job) and she has given me some ‘industrial strength’ weed control matting which they used under the tur when they laid it.  Have never seen anything quite like it – it’s so thick!!  Certainly haven’t spotted anything like this anywhere near here.

Weed control

So, as soon as the weather picks up (fingers crossed) I will get as much of this down as I can.  There’s a good 20m here so I should be able to cover the majority of the garden that is still exposed.

I haven’t been feeling ‘quite right’ lately and I am afraid to say, a little down.  I think the fact that starting to write this blog and the invigoration it has given me to get back in the garden whilst the weather has been so awful and I haven’t actually been able to get out there has something to do with it.  I read with envy all of the gardener’s out there who are planting their Spring bulbs knowing full well that it could be a good 6 months before I am able to enjoy the same pleasure.

Having never committed myself to such a massive gardening project before, it can feel like a constant up-hill battle.  I long for those warm days where I can potter around the garden enjoying my own handy work, but at the moment that feels like it is a lifetime away.

I would be really interested to see if anyone out there has some garden projects under way and what progress you are making.  I have really enjoyed becoming part of the green-fingered community on here and some of the gardens out there are truly inspirational.  Fingers crossed, my finished project will have the same effect 🙂

Thinking of the future!

With the weather being as rotten as it is at the moment and with the forecast for the next few days being equally as depressing, I am using the time constructively, attempting to come up with ideas for my new garden.

With all the posts I have been posting, you may think I have completely finished stripping everything out – chance would be a fine thing!  It’s starting to feel like a losing battle as the mild, wet Autumn we have had so far has been an absolute dream for the weeds which are already taking over areas that I had already cleared out once!

As you can see from the photos above, even 4 waste bags of weeds (and bloody Muscari bulbs – grrr!) is not enough to halt the weed invasion.  I have covered as much as I can of the right hand side with weed control matting, but some of the more awkward areas are still exposed and it’s like a weed jungle 😦

As you can see, all the plants I wanted to store over winter are all now nicely dying down since we had our first decent frost of the year last week.  They are all looking a bit tired, but with a bit of TLC, they will be just fine.

I have good news!  The polytunnel is making a much welcome return. I am so excited I could literally pop!  I have missed not having my tunnel.  I’ve lost whole days in there before and am chomping at the bit to get it up and get in there.  It’s planned to go in the top right hand corner of the garden for now (grassy area), but unfortunately, the garden I have now is much smaller than my last one so the size of the tunnel is going to be reduced from 10 x 15 foot to 10 x 10 foot.  This still gives me plenty of room to get my seedlings in and fingers crossed it will be up before the end of December.  This is what it looked like last year:

20140306_114524

Anyway, back to the planning:

I have been looking through countless magazines and searching the internet for examples of gardens that are on a slope, and ways of reducing the steepness of it as much as I can.  Problem is, there seems to be a general consensus amongst the gardens that I have come across so far that rockeries and winding steps are the way to go.  Neither option really appeals to me.

In a nutshell, I would like a cottage style garden (borders full of a large variety of plants with lots of colour) with a contemporary twist (clean lines and edges).  Now, I am not daft and I know that both those elements are completely contradictory, but it’s what I want.

And just to make things slightly more interesting, I want specifically designated areas to grow salad, veg, fruits and herbs.

I am also going to extend my patio area slightly (by about 2 foot) at the moment, the paving is a mix of 2 x 2 foot grey paving slabs (yuck!) and a bit of concrete thrown in for good measure.  Hate it – just looks sooooo miserable.  During my internet ‘window shopping’ I think I have found something which would be perfect:

What do you think?  Personally, I think it’s completely fab and will make the patio area look so much nicer.

Now, I just need to convince Trist to help me get the old stuff up and lay it!!

 

 

The Free Gardener

Apologies for not posting for a couple of days, but I have been making the most of the mild and dry spell of weather and have been, where else, but in the garden.

Whilst reviewing my handy work so far, a rather pleasing thought dawned on me.  I am actually in a really privileged position with my whole garden project.  I have no emotional attachment to anything in the garden as it stands which means I am completely free to rip anything and everything out that I want to without having to plan a new area or bed whilst trying to figure out how I am going to make an existing plant or feature ‘fit’.  I am literally free as a bird with a blank canvas. How exciting (and more than a little daunting!) is that????

Whilst rifling through my garden photos, I came across one I took of the first bunch of Sweet Peas that came out of my new garden.  Such a beautiful pink!  Thankfully there were masses of them as my garden needed a shot of colour!

IMG_0236

I have found a garden design tool, which on the surface looks fab and what’s more, it’s completely free. I haven’t had a proper play with it as yet, but as soon as I do, I will upload some ideas that I have for my makeover!

Anyway, back to my garden story so far:

So, after tackling the top bed, I decided to move to the bottom bed on the left hand side.  This area is the shadiest part of the garden and the dampness of the soil confirmed this.  The crazy paving that was in this area was a real issue to lift and I endured several hours swinging my frustrations out with a lump hammer.  I also needed a little ‘man help’!

IMG_0827

The whole area again was filled with dreaded Muscari bulbs, but with a bit of elbow grease, they were soon out 🙂

By the end of it, the area was looking much clearer and I was happy to think that I was making some real progress.

IMG_0845

 

Sweet Pea Saviour!

After the removal of the Laurel tree and the first two beds of plants (and bulbs – grrr!) my garden on the right hand side was looking nothing short of bare and baron.

I had planned to continue working towards the top of the right hand side of the garden,  but due to the fact that I had the beginnings of unexpected colour in the form of perennial sweet peas, I decided to leave this area and enjoy the little bit of colour that this one part of the garden was willing to offer.

This left me with little choice in where to go next so with a nervous trepidation, I started assessing the left hand side.  Welcome to the jungle…

After seeing just how many weeds (and chuffing Muscari bulbs!) had taken over the area, I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy task.

I knew I had some plants in pots which I needed to find a suitable place for over the winter and because of the steepness of the middle part of the garden, I knew the safest place for them was going to be the top bed.  So, with hand fork and trowel I continued my mission with the Muscari bulbs, the removal of the mini-boulders and the weeds!

The ground up in this area wasn’t nearly as easy to work as in other areas of the garden and had obviously not been touched for quite a while.  I was also intrigued to find several ‘lumps’ of good old concrete within the soil which did nothing for my wrists or shoulders whilst digging away with my hand fork!  in all fairness it took me a good fortnight to get the bed clear.  The weather was a bit iffy and so progress was hampered by the odd summer deluge.

The hardest part had been removing an ornamental grass that had roots like you wouldn’t believe!  In the end, I had to get Trist to help get the fork under the roots just so I could stand any chance of removing them.

What also became apparent rather quickly as I was working in this area was the fact that the same level of craftsmanship had been used on this area of stone walling as in previous areas and was again crumbling and falling away as I was working round it.  As you have probably guessed, this led to another trip to the tip for Trist 😉

The Laurel Tree, a can of energy drink and a hand saw

So after my initial burst of enthusiasm and work in the garden, I am afraid the Great British weather kept up tradition and presented itself with a couple of weeks of traditional dismal, grey and wet weather.  I have to admit that much wasn’t achieved in this period and so by the end of it I was literally ‘chomping at the bit’ to get out into the garden and continue with my makeover.

Trist had popped out with Will one sunny, Saturday morning and armed with an energy drink and a hand saw, I decided to tackle the Laurel tree.

IMG_0034

What started out as a 25 foot + tree when I started soon started to shrink in size and stature.  I knew that I was going to be in sooooo much trouble when Trist came home so, my only option was to get as much down as I could before I heard the van approaching.

Within the space of a couple of hours I had made, what I felt was really good progress and then I heard it.  The sound of a T4 pulling up on the drive and I knew I was in for a severe ticking off!  It wasn’t so much that I was chopping down the tree, it was more to do with the fact that my Husband knew I would expect him to put all this garden waste in his precious T4 and it was inevitably going to make a mess.

IMG_0437

To be fair to him, Trist’s first reaction was “Wow, fair play!” and then the realisation of the tip trip kicked in and his next comment was “that ain’t going in my van until it’s chopped up!”

So, I carried on for the rest of the day, entirely on my own determined to get as much of the branches off as I could.  By the end of the day, my hands were covered in blisters and my once clear garden was now full of Laurel branches 🙂

The branches and leaves had literally taken over every part of the garden!  In order to maintain domestic bliss (!) I spent the next couple of days cutting down branches and bagging everything up.  I then made 3 trips to the skip myself (I only have a VW Golf!) trying to remove as much of the small pieces as I could. This left the bigger branches for Trist to take to the tip for me, as I physically couldn’t a) get them in my car or b) lift them.

Even though it was entirely obvious he was not happy about it (don’t think he spoke to me for about 3 days) credit where credit’s due, he took the bulk of the wood to the tip for me.

Now, all I need to do is bribe him into removing the “stump” for me 😉

IMG_0439

 

 

Me and My Team

Image

As we’re still getting to know one another, I thought it would be a good time to introduce “My Team”.

Each member brings their own skills and expertise to the operation (sort of!) and I couldn’t do what I do without them.

William

We’ll start with Will,  my Son, who you have briefly been introduced to.  William is the one thing in my life I feel I have got right and I am so incredibly proud of the young man he is becoming.

Will intro

At 9 years old and completely obsessed with Minecraft,  he is always willing to help me in the garden as long as it doesn’t involve, worms or spiders.  We are planning for Will to have his own area of the garden as he is keen to grow his own salad, fruit and veg.  I look forward to sharing his endeavours with you!

Tristan

My long suffering Husband of 11 years. Not remotely interested in gardening, but is a dab hand at loading up the van with all the garden waste I have produced and taking it to the tip.  Although, in all honesty, I don’t think he is entirely happy about doing it, he loves me enough to help with the heavy lifting and hard digging.  I am still waiting for him to remove a Laurel tree from the garden, but that is a different story for another time 😉

Trist intro

Trist pretty much allows me to plan and design the garden as I want to and has spent many an hour listening to my latest idea with regards to either my business ideas or garden design thoughts.  Bless him.  Would be lost without him (just don’t tell him!)

My Mum

My ‘Partner in Crime’ when it comes to Gardening.  We both enjoy spending time pottering around our gardens and both have a keen interest in plants.  Our joint passion of gardening has brought us closer together and she is the one person I can rely on when I am not feeling myself.  No one understands me better than her!

Mum Intro.jpg

We both believe that our passion for Gardening comes from my Grandad, my Mum’s Dad.  Unfortunately he died when I was only 11, but EVERY SINGLE memory I have of him is in the garden.

IMG_0406.JPG

My Mum inherited his greenhouse after he died and even though one hasn’t been used in the greenhouse for 20+ years, you can still smell the paraffin from his heater when the door has been closed for a while.  It’s nice to think he smiles down on us whilst we are working in there.

Spot

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this member of my team.  He spends hours outside with me and never leaves my side whilst I am sowing seeds or sieving soil.

Spot Intro

We have had Spot since he was 5 months old and he is someone I can talk to all day and he never answers back lol!  He loves being outside with me and never complains come rain or shine!

Dotty

The miserable, but sensible one of the team.  Will happily join us outside if the sun is shining, but if there is even a threat of rain – you’ve got no chance!

IMG_0775

We got Dotty about 4 years ago as a Rescue and she is so stuck in her ways, there is no changing her.  On a Sunny day she can be found sprawled out in the dirt, catching some rays.

Bella

Our newest recruit!  We got Bella on Halloween 2015 and she is a little cutie.

Bella Intro

Having not experienced a season in the garden with her yet, I am unable to comment on her usefulness, but I am sure updates on her progress will follow!

So that’s us, Team BloominBootiful!

Spot & Bella