You remember those TV garden makeovers shows, especially from the '90s? A team of 'garden experts' would swoop in, dig up a shrub, whack down some decking, add a few containers and some tea lights, plus maybe a glazed ceramic ball or a tinkly wind chime and - pow! - a new garden. They'd stand back smugly and wait for the homeowner's tearful reaction to the big reveal.
Yeah, well, creating a garden's nowt like that. Especially when you're starting completely from scratch. It's all about the 'grunt' work. Fetching, carrying, bending, lifting. In my fledgling front garden it's about removing brick paving, one brick at a time. Scraping up the thick layer of sand underneath, then digging out an even thicker layer of limestone (put in to level off the surface). Then it's digging at the proper soil underneath, which is thick and gloopy and so clay-like you can mould and shape it with your hands. I'm going to have to really build those flower borders up, otherwise my plants will have their feet permanently damp.
At the back of the house (less than inspiring photo above) it's about scraping back the gravel or pebbles (lucky me having large swathes of both!), then pushing back the membrane. Then removing more limestone by the bagful before digging more soil. Some that's clay-like, some that seems thinner and less well nourished (if that's a word proper gardeners apply to soil?). It's about digging out rotted down wood, bits of broken glass and plastic bag and ruddy great chunks of paving slab. I might hope to find a Roman coin or a pretty Victorian glass bottle, but so far all I've unearthed of any value is a 1p piece and a marble!
But the grunt work's necessary. It'll pay off in years to come, and anyway it's oddly satisfying even when progress seems irritatingly slow. No 60 minute makeover here.
I'm just glad I bought one of those padded garden kneelers, a hideous pink foam thing, cheap as chips but invaluable for keeping my knees graze free and the knees of my jeans/leggings hole-free. I did think that it'd be easy to make one by up-cycling an old oilcloth bag. You know, those tote bags from Cath Kidston and similar places in brightly patterned oilcloth. The handles always go, getting cracked and uncomfortable to use. You could buy a rectangle of foam (often found on fabric stalls in markets or use an old cushion pad), put it inside the bag and maybe use Velcro or sew on poppers or even (eek!) insert a zip to fashion a closure for the bag. It'd make an easy to clean, easily portable kneeler.
Moved from a garden-less city flat in the South West to a Yorkshire village in 2016. I now have a garden ... of sorts.