As I mention in my About page, my garden will feature on the Wild Happy Well blog. I’ve put off writing about it for a little while as, to be honest, I’m a bit ashamed of it… Our garden is not the blissful natural space I hope for it to be someday. Here, I open up about why it’s the state it is and our plans to turn improve it. Hopefully one day it’ll be a gorgeous sensory space for the whole family!
Not a natural utopia…
So. I love nature. I love gardens. I love plants and wildlife. But the reality of my own situation is sadly not that I live in a utopia of wild nature haven, plants spilling out of lucious beds onto rich grass, robins merrily dancing around the compost heap slurping up fat juicy worms… Nope. My garden is a building site. More specifically, it is the unhappy, injured bystander from our house extension works last summer. The house, our home, has been dramatically improved and this has dramatically improved the quality of our day-to-day life. It all happened just in time too for Archie’s arrival, something I am extraordinarily grateful for.
Slow but steady
The garden had always been a blank canvas. When we moved in there was lawn, a couple of fruit trees (fig and peach, huge YESSSS!), that was it, except a sizeable slope away from the house. We added a big shed (Jon’s beloved workshop) and my greenhouse, some raised beds with some nice plants and some decking. We were making progress, slowly but steadily and we were fine with this. However, the building works saw the deck dismantled ‘temporarily’. With me heavily pregnant, the greenhouse was avoided more frequently, which played on my mind. Jon’s workshed became a general dumping ground for stuff, which is a source of continual mental torment to the poor chap (his shed is his sanctuary. I don’t take it personally). The lawn was constantly ignored and became long, lumpy, and littered with building materials. One of the beautiful raised beds Jon had carefully designed and built became filled to the brim with rubble and wood off-cuts.
Garden that is no place for a baby
Archie’s arrival prior to winter had no great impact on our relationship with the garden. I cocooned myself indoors over the winter months, adapting to our new life as a family of three. But as the weather has brightened and warmed we’ve looked out of our lovely new bifold doors onto this poor wreckage of a garden with increasing longing and not a little bit of frustration. The sheer scale of improvements necessary to make it baby-friendly have been just too huge to consider. This is mainly because of the cost…the house works pretty much cleaned us out just at the point when I went on maternity leave and Jon had not long been made redundant (although this has given birth to the brilliant Blackfish Engineering – check them out!). Time is also of a premium with a new baby, especially your first: weekends where the both of you can get out there and crack on just don’t exist now, for a wonderful reason of course.
Hope and gratitude: moving forward
However, we are now making plans to turn it around and we are excited! One recommendation from a neighbour and one exceedingly good quote later, we have a plan of how it can be improved in a fairly cost-effective manner: new decking and old to be installed, plus leveling of the lawn. Add to those someone extraordinary generosity from both of our parents and we have a decent proportion of what it will cost to make the biggest improvements. Today is Day 1 of the works, hence the ‘before’ photos: I’ll keep you posted how it goes! It will, of course, still require time, effort and frugality on our behalf to make it really come together. But it is a huge step forward towards enabling the three of us to get outdoors this summer, the first of Archie’s life. I am so keen for nature to be a significant factor in the experiences that shape his development. This may be the only summer I have with just him and I together on a daily basis, so having our garden accessible for him this year will be so valuable.
A sensory garden space
Thinking further forward, I would love our garden to become a haven for wildlife and a stimulating space for all of us. Last night, I had the delight of seeing my friend Joanna Grace of The Sensory Projects (http://jo.element42.org/) and we got to discussing sensory gardens. This is something I will be researching and writing about as I’ve always had a fondness for garden design. The idea of combining the creation of a (manageable!) wild natural space that is a delicious sensory treat for the whole family is too tempting to ignore. First up, I will checking out the Sensory Trust, and their sensory garden advice!
Today’s task: Have you created a delightful wild and natural garden space? Or do you suffer garden shame as I currently do? What does your garden give you – peace, tranquility, home-grown produce, eternal frustration, an exercise space?! Tell me about them in the comments and please do provide any good tips or advice!!!