4 Jul 2009

My garden may be small . . .

. . . but it’s a source of great joy to me. I sit out in it at all times of year – I have thermal mats and insulated coffee cups especially so that I can enjoy it in winter too.

I have one particularly spectacular hosta this year, bought as an end of season bargain last year in a sorry state. This has half a dozen lovely flower spikes – although it’s a shame they don’t last longer. Click the photo for a larger view.

Our house is a stone cottage of about 140 years old. It was the managers house for the adjacent mill, originally a calico printers. It’s a rather unusual looking house – long and thin and tall and thin. It has a very steep pitched roof and the upstairs of the house is already within the slope of the roof area, the top floor is completely within roof space. The rooms are all tall and the windows set low. It’s almost as if after designing and building the outside, they decided to put one less floor in to save money (it has 4 if you count the cellar), so re-distributed those they were building – leading to windows at shin level upstairs.

An overall view of the garden, divided into two areas; the closer section as a more utility area, where we keep the bins, hang washing out and I do my gardening work and the farther seating garden. It’s the nearest thing I have to a dining room.
Please click any of the photos for a larger view.

We have two small gardens. The house sits in a vaguely square plot, which has been divided into three long thin rectangles – two long thin gardens sandwiching a long thin house. The garden I am referring to is actually the back garden – and as the house is in fact back to front, this puts it on the street side of the house.

Just inside the trellis dividers in the dining area. The black ceramic figurine on the left is my alter ego Boo. I saw her in the garden centre and joked that she looked to have been modelled on me. She came to live with us that Christmas. 😉

For a number of years after moving here, we used it as originally intended – minus the outside facilities – as a place for the bins, hanging out washing and for some years, a substantial run for 3 rabbits we had. It was a large expanse of poor quality concrete and some ugly stone and brick exterior walls. I grew a few plants in pots, but as time passed, we wanted a proper garden – an exterior room to eat in and sit out in. So we saved up some money for a complete make over and started drawing sketches.

I never did take any ‘before’ photos, but I have taken photos each year as it has developed. The greenery is now significantly more substantial than it started, gradually expanding and developing into a proper garden as the years passed – it must be about 8 years since we started the work.

Everything is grown in pots – the original concrete base is still there, but was of such poor quality, we bought a great pile of small grade decorative gravel and just covered it. The colour has faded over the years and there’s a lot of moss growing on it now, but it has withstood wear better than we expected. Because everything is grown in a pot, we can largely move the smaller things round, but the down side is that some plants don’t do as well as they would in open ground, so we probably don’t get as many years from a plant. But if you pay five pounds for a plant and you enjoy it for 2 years, you can’t really complain at the value it represents.

Each season I have a particular favourite area – where the planting works especially well, or things grow nicely. This year this is my favourite spot – around one of the stone seats we built from rescued slabs in the cellar and a large stone pear – another Christmas present.

The intention was always to have it as an outdoor room, so there are several seats and places to perch – I think the ones I am most pleased with are two substantial stone slabs we’ve set on blocks as seats and a way to give some height to the planting. These were both in the cellar, we think originally as work benches, if the wear marks on the undersides are any guide. So they cost us very little, but a great deal of sweat and effort getting them from the cellar to their current positions – which needed to be chosen very carefully, they’re not something you could move a few inches easily if you weren’t sure you liked where they were!

6 thoughts on “My garden may be small . . .

  1. Thank you all for the lovely comments. I also have a half apple with big brass pips, but that’s a bit more hidden in a corner. They both got the attention of the power washer yesterday so are looking a bit smarter. Plus I pulled up a lot of moss which has brightened the gravel too.

    The clocks are a blasted nuisance. I have two and they’re never right. At least the one that stops is right twice a day, the other one stops and starts and is therefore never even close!

  2. Beautiful garden! I love the clock on the side of the house, and that pear is gorgeous! You’ve inspired me to work a bit harder in my own garden. I used to take such pride in it, but have neglected it of late.

  3. love the surrounding wall – it turns the space into a kind of secret garden! my cosmo would love your garden; lots of cool places to hide under/behind :)

  4. Your garden’s lovely, Boo :) I always have loved rock walls though, especially when they’re all old and characterful :)

    Nicely photographed too. I think they show just how lovingly you care for it, and how much love you get back in return!

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