This little area's started to look rather nice, mainly because of the verbena of which I'm ridiculously fond. It started out as resembling a building site. Weeds, gravel, bits of buried concrete slabs, there was little to love. But gradually I got on top of it.
I used bricks that I'd taken up from the front garden, and improvised about the layout.
Things looked a heck of a lot better once some greenery made an appearance.
There's a perennial sunflower by the fence, along with a foxglove, plus a couple of thymes - both a variety called 'Silver Queen', one in the ground, the other in a container - plus marjoram (or is it oregano?) and leggy verbena. Still too much bare ground for my liking, but that'll get filled up with plants in years to come.
When I'm flagging it's good to look at photos like these and see that progress is -slowly - being made.
I ate way too much yesterday (all butter cookies and a large bar of milk choccie) which isn't good for the waistline. So today, thankfully, the weather was good and I could get outside and work some calories off. Last year when I moved into my house I made an initial tentative start on the back garden, but it was daunting. I didn't know what I was doing or where to begin, and soon retreated leaving the garden virtually un-worked on. I concentrated instead on covering the terrace with containers, and then had a good go at the front garden which felt more manageable.
However every time I looked out of the kitchen or conservatory windows and was faced with membrane covered with gravel and pebbles, I felt dis-spirited. So dreary and un-cared for. So empty of greenery and wildlife.
This year something's changed and I feel able to tackle it. Maybe it's from having seen a vast improvement in the front garden after all my efforts there. I've given up trying to draw elaborate plans on bits of paper, and instead just dived in. Creating flower beds where I think they ought to be, and not worrying if my idea of a garden doesn't match someone else's idea of a stylish outdoor space.
The photo above shows the view from the paved area (terrace, patio, call it what you will). There're a couple of stone steps down to a short brick path, and on the left is a very modest sized area that was fully covered with membrane and topped with gravel. To the right is a similarly sized area topped with membrane covered with pebbles.
The gravel's gotta go, but I'm gradually creating paths between flower beds using the pebbles. They're a pleasing colour, and you get that nice crunchy sound underfoot. I've dug up endless bits of broken paving slabs, but also unearthed three large, heavy paving slabs that I didn't even try and move. So you can see them in the photo and they ain't shifting. Whether they were laid by a previous resident as a patio, or whether they're a cover for a water pipe that apparently runs under these gardens I don't know. But as I say, they are a non-moveable fixture.
I've re-used bricks taken up from the front garden to edge beds, and - yes, I know - my lines are as straight as a dog's hind leg! I've planted some borage, though it's a bit of trial and error as to whether they'll be happy in that position. It might be too shady for them and the soil too wet. We'll see how they fare. (I've popped several borage plants in the front garden, and I think they'll be better suited in that position. However, if things don't thrive I can sow more seeds next year and try again. Thankfully seeds are cheap and you get masses in a packet.)
These breeze blocks will look much better when I do my DIY version of pebble-dash on them, but in the meantime they'll make a home for these leggy sunflowers which were desperate to escape their pots. I've tied some bamboo sticks into a simple frame to help support the sunflowers, and planted nasturtiums round their base. With a bit of luck the nasturtiums will entwine around the sunflower stems to added height and colour. At least that's the theory.
All in all a good day's work, and maybe a few calories worked off in the process. A long walk tomorrow and a yoga class will help burn off some more. This week I need to move courgette and tomato plants into large tubs and Grow Bags, plus plant out broad beans seedlings that're shooting up after sunny days on the conservatory windowsill.
I also need to google how to care for an Aloe Vera houseplant, as my plant's looking very sorry for itself and far from healthy. Reckon I've over watered it which I bet is a common complaint. Anyone else have luck keeping Aloe Vera plants? If so, what's the secret?
It was too darn chilly to venture outside for any length of time yesterday - yes, I know I'm a wuss - so I stayed in and re-potted flourishing seedlings into bigger pots, and sorted out more seeds to plant. Every window sill's covered in plant pots now, and I've had to raid the kitchen for saucers and dishes to place under them.
Today was a little milder, so I did get a couple of hours of digging and clearing done. I unearthed more rubbish from under the membrane and limestone. Plastic children's toy coins, broken glass, rusted screws, a plastic bag and half a concrete fence post. Yup, more concrete buried in the garden. There's no end to it. If there wasn't a chance of another frost in the next fortnight or so I'd start planting things out just in order to get some greenery in place. But I'll wait until around the last week of May, and probably splurge on some trays of cheap bedding plants for instant impact.
What's nice to see is that once a patch of ground is dug the birds - sparrows mainly - hop around searching for worms, and hopefully finding a little feast here and there.
By the way, if you're after cheap Grow Bags or Tub & Hanging Basket compost then nip along to Lidl quick-smart. At £1.29 for a 27 litres Grow Bag or Tub compost at £1.49 for 20 litres they're total bargains and good quality too.
No, this is not a photo of fly tipping. It's my back garden, and believe it or not I'm starting to make progress. I know that's not how it looks, but several days digging, ruining my nails in the process, and carting around bags of gravel and chunks of limestone are beginning to pay off. I've dug up yet more bits of broken glass, sweet and crisp wrappers, plus - inexplicably - several paving slabs. Cos that's what you do with unwanted paving slabs, isn't it? Bury them in the back garden. Sheesh!
At the bottom left of the garden is a lilac tree. Very pretty at this time of year, but it means that corner of the garden is extremely dry. The soil's thin and stony, and - if it was fabric - I'd say it was threadbare. Everywhere else the soil is incredibly wet and claggy and sticky-clay. It's practically a bog garden in parts. Hopefully the shrubs I'll plant will be tolerant of these conditions and will hide the ugly fence too.
The corner under the dry shade of the lilac tree will have to be my woodland area. It seems funny to have such wildly different conditions within such a small area of land, but so be it. Certain plants will have to stay in containers in order to keep their feet dry and for them to stand in the sun - namely herbs - while I'll hopefully gradually improve the overall soil quality of the borders I'm carving out by making them into raised beds. Building 'em up with compost and organic matter.
I'm taking photos of the mess now out there in order to have those 'before' and 'after' photos, so I can keep track of my progress. For those days when I feel like I'm not getting anywhere. In a few years times - fingers crossed - it'll be a green & pleasant land at No. 42. Bees and butterflies a plenty. I can't wait!
I keep telling myself that one day this patch of earth will be a thriving flower and shrub border, but in the meantime it's just a heap of heavy, wet clay soil, home to bits of broken glass, rusty nails and broken plastic flower pot that I carefully pick out as I find them. Because the soil is such dense claggy clay I need to think carefully about what I'll plant here. No good popping herbs like thyme or rosemary in as they hate having wet feet. Apparently Iris are ideal for these conditions, which is great as they're beautiful flowers. Also good are: Berberis, Buddleia, Cotoneaster, Astrantia, Helleborus and Sedum Spectabile. I do love Sedums, and so do the bees which is always a fab bonus.
As I haven't got a proper cold frame I bought one of those plastic covered cloches the other day. It's self assembly, reminding me of a Wendy House I had as a child, a great mass of poles and plastic covering that my parents had to wrestle with whenever they tried assembling it. Always at least one bit missing with the Wendy House, which was the case with this Wilko cloche. At a tenner it was a cheap option, and will do for this summer, until I make something sturdier. I've weighted the cloche down with bricks, so hopefully it won't fly across the garden when the wind blows. It's home to rocket seedlings, mixed salad leaves and the pea shoots. I've just got to make sure I remember that if I open the zipped bits of the cloche during the day, I close it up at night, especially important as we may still get the odd visit from Jack Frost.
Moved from a garden-less city flat in the South West to a Yorkshire village in 2016. I now have a garden ... of sorts.