Hands up if you think the garden is a part of the home? I think it is. Which is why I have a whole part of The Resolution dedicated to it. In fact, it's probably the part I'm furthest ahead with!
First things first. The Plan. The plan is hugely important. I never thought it really was until I sat down at the beginning of this year and realised that the last 18 months that I have been living here, making improvements, I have not made much actual headway with the garden at all. I believe that this is down to the fact that I'd not written and drawn on to paper, something tangible for me to see; what I want the garden to be like.
Having never done a garden plan before I decided I knew best and spurned all the technical style drawings in books that clearly use such fads as tape measures, computers and possibly satellite mapping and geo-technical surveys. I started off by drawing a very rough birds eye view scribbley-sketch of the garden. I'm focusing on my back garden for the moment by the way. The front can wait.
I do realise that I am fairly arty and can sketch out a sqaure-ish plot of land with enough accuracy to be able to use it, if winging it isn't your style, squared paper and a tape measure are you friends. So, with the basic shape of the garden started I added all of the existing features that I cannot change, and then added in the planting that I'm not going to change.With that plotted, I could see exactly where I was starting from.
Next I thought about what I actually wanted from my garden. The things that topped my list were wildlife and a seating area. Maybe you want formal lines, vegetable beds, a jacuzzi? The possibilities are endless. My two focus areas meant that I could come up with a few ideas. For me it was very easy to narrow down because I have such a small space, and even less of that can be utilised due to lack of sunshine for most of the day.
I did a couple of new sketches focusing on hard landscaping choices. I tried to elongate the square space to make the garden seem bigger by creating an elliptical lawn shape across the diagonal. Once I was happy with the shapes in the garden and started leafing through books for planting ideas. As my soil is so damp, shaded and of such a heavy clay this narrows down what I can grow. I also did a mental tour around my Dad's garden, thinking what I wanted to take cuttings of, and what would work. If your having difficulties thinking of plants take a look at the Gardeners' World plant section; the options at the top mean you can search for particular light or soil conditions which is ideal for a novice like me.
With all this in mind I sketched in the planting and other features in the garden. I wanted decking so that I could sit with out sinking in to my boggy lawn. I'm going to construct this for almost free by sourcing unwanted wood and palettes. I decided on having a long-grass area with naturalised bulbs, a small pond and a bird feeding area. I already had the compost bin and wood pile for bug and hedgehog habitat in place, so they're to stay put. Planting wise I have chosen a variety of plants for the reasons of height, scent, winter interest, and to create habitat & hide ugly fences.
I have already done the hard landscaping. I have dug new borders in the shapes I designed. I have removed the border edging where it is not appropriate, I have marked out where the long grass and the deck will be, I've dug and sunk a pond in place and I have taken cuttings from my Dad's garden; Lilac, climbing Hydrangea, normal Hydrangea, two different roses, one a shrub rose and one a rambler (I think!) a hardy Fuchsia. I took cuttings from a Cherry tree, Orange blossom and an upright blossom tree (not sure what it is!) I also dug up a small patch of Crocosmia, a wild Primrose, a Cowslip, a geranium, and some bluebells.
(Links are a rough approximation of what I took cuttings from, being
that I couldn't find the right cultivar, or that I don't know what the
plant will look like when it flowers! Especially so in the case of the
The pond is a surprisingly simple affair. Last summer I bought a garden bin/trug thing, and some water weed, filled with water; voilà! Although it didn't achieve what I had hoped, i.e. that of attracting toads and beautiful flying beasties. I put this down to the lateness of the year, and the fact that it was sitting on the ground not sunken in to it. So, I emptied it out, dug a hole, and sunk the container down. I put some bricks (don't have any natural stones!) against the edge to the top to create a way out/habitat. I'm just waiting for the rain to finish filling it up now!
So that's the end of part 1! Part 2 is going to be focusing on the plants!
All images are © Chloe Cooter 2013 unless image links to another website. All images that are not © Chloe Cooter will be linked to the source (if possible) and credited in that way.