Garden Reflection
0 comment Friday, August 22, 2014 |
These lovely flowers are a wonderful addition to my garden and are going strong. I'm already thinking of how I could possibly save some cuttings to propagate and introduce their beautiful colour to the rest of the garden next year, and that means turning my eye to other plants and seeds which I've a mind to save up for the gardening projects to come.
I admit I've spent so much time working on the garden I haven't really taken time to sit back and truly look at it. The Durrell rose which a friend and I ooh-ed and aah-ed over at a garden centre last weekend, comparing it to the attempts of the gardeners painting the white roses red in Alice in Wonderland - it turns out I actually bought one earlier in the year, planted it in my front garden, and utterly forgot about it until I noticed yesterday that it had bloomed! I'm eyeing it now from my makeshift bed downstairs with a wry smile, admiring the blooming nasturtiums, the clematis making its first brave forays up the lattice framework on my garden bench, the asters sending up their ever-more-impressive spikes, and the squash which is getting to business in its holding tub and may even start giving me some flowers and, hopefully, fruits.
I'm taking time to pause for a bit and actually look at my garden, and think about what has worked, what hasn't, and what I can improve. But also, how to enjoy what I'm seeing, and how to add for future enjoyment. I'm therefore redoing my to-do list - wow, that I should need to redo it because everything was completed feels pretty awesome - to reflect new needs and changes for the rest of the growing season and preparation for the next.
I came to the realisation recently that the garden was entirely a testament to generosity from many different people; nearly everything I see out there was granted by a donation, by dedication, and by volunteer work. I spent very little money out of my own pocket to transform my garden from a lopsided, bramble-and-rubbish infested wreck into what it is now. I am staggered, humbled, and extremely grateful for this. This was a huge undertaking and it couldn't have happened at all without the assistance of many different groups. May all they have given be gifted back thrice-fold.
The strawberries have been very prolific this year; a very generous working-in of wormcast, coir block, compost and organic strawberry feed, topped up with nettle tea - they're STILL giving me strawberries, which I'm now freezing in small batches for use in the winter months. While the production is nearly over, I'll be harvesting the runners and planting those to bring on next year. I put the oldest, biggest plants in the top, and next year these will be replaced with the small plants upon the bottom. The ones in the middle will be good for another year or two, and then those too will be replaced with new runners. On the whole, the system has worked wonderfully after last year's rather pitiful yields, so I'll try and improve the theme a bit come next year - namely, keep the slugs off for longer and apply a handful of lavender blossoms a little sooner in the year to keep the ants off.
The raised bed works a treat as well, allowing me to cram quite a bit of veg into a very small space, and also making the need to stoop in order to tend the bed a non-issue. It's very easy to access, there's loads of room to put both flowers, veg and herbs in, and it's just the right height for sproggo too. The size of the bed is more than ample to feed me and child, and is well supplemented by my growboxes and things. All it needs during the winter is a top up from the compost pile and we should be ready for next year.
The cherry tree is looking good in its growing pot, and I am able to keep it trimmed down a bit to a more manageable size. This year we even had a few blooms though no cherries. I'm not expecting much however, and I'm just happy to have a very healthy, growing tree right now. It seems to theory is sound, and I'll be hoping to plant a mulberry much the same way this year if I can manage it.
The garden levels makes getting round much easier, as well as helps to put on the brakes with sproggo running back and forth and potentially hurting himself on the stairs or the wall-less partition. He seems to see the levels as a barrier, and will run about on one level alone, then maybe move down to another level and run around there. That's actually a good thing, and is an added benefit to me actually being able to move round without navigating a slope.
Patio space is good! Being able to eat outside in a nice space is a huge perk, and I am loving it. This is coming even more in handy on good days and I'm really glad to have the setup there.
Slugs, pigeons and cats, oh my! The raised bed has great potential and I'm now growing a bit in there, but it's nowhere near full thanks to the decimation visited upon the bed in early spring. I've lost 50% of what I wanted to grow in that space, and although I've made up for some of what I've lost, I haven't made up for most of it. This is something I've got to address early in the growing year; the netting will help, as well the slug pellets, so I'll be using those a lot more come next spring.
What hasn't worked is the reconditioning of the garden furniture; the stuff was cheap pine in the first place, painted to LOOK like teak, and was never meant to deal with wet winter conditions; as a result the table is warped, I've repaired the chairs twice but they keep falling apart, and no amount of oil or paint is going to save this set, I think. I'm frustrated, as the lounger is made of the exact same stuff but doesn't keep falling apart every time you look at it! With a sigh, I may be giving up on this set and be replacing it with metal instead, which would be a load more durable. Plastic is right out - while it's certainly cheap, it LOOKS it, and I just can't stand the plastic patio sets, really. I'll look into maybe getting a deal on these when the fall sales start.
I say which a wince, one thing which hasn't worked is Ludo; the poo-patrols and the spraying the garden due to toxic levels of wee killing the grass isn't helping sprog with wanting to play in his bit of garden! When she is rehomed, even though it will sting a lot, I think the garden can be further encouraged to be a more welcoming space without having to always look for "landmines".
Lack of decent soil is again a problem with the garden. I can compost till I'm blue, but since we're a small household we will never produce the amount of compost required to feed the garden space. As a result, I will have to spring to get proper topsoil in to grow the grass back, to fill the flower beds, and to top up the growpots as time goes by. It's just more cost efficient to get the topsoil in rather than buy up in small bags. Backbreaking work, especially on levels as getting a wheelbarrow up is now no longer possible, but I'll manage.
My son developing a severe phobia of spiders has scuppered use of the Wumpy House - sadly, he has adamantly refused to enter the thing ever since he spied a rather largish spider in it, and no amount of encouragement can get him to go back into it. Ex is furious, but there's nothing else for it, and I'm quite gutted, personally. It's a beautiful house but unless something changes, it's destined to be a complete washout as far as sprog is concerned. A shame, really, if I'd known, I'd have built something more suitable for adults instead and it could be my own little house!
The cutting down of the ash saplings, honestly, hasn't been that effective - it's only making the stumps grow in huge shoots which I'm having to cut on a regular basis. Due to the placing of the fence - literally right over the larger stump - this also means having to go round next door and offer to cut down the ash saplings before they potentially grow too large to sort. And, due to the current fence being built a foot away from the old one, this might involve some considerable contortionism for me to even be able to get in there and snip the saplings off. I don't really think the sawing the saplings down has solved the problem, merely postponed the inevitable, as it's going to be an ongoing battle for me to get that sorted. Maybe next year I'll just have someone round to make sure everything is battered back into dormancy, or find a way to kill the stump and not poison the ground. Not sure, but something will have to be done.
I was disappointed with the carrot and potato production this year - the first due to slug damage and the latter due to a real lack of the variety I initially wanted. The frosts and volcano eruptions and economy meant getting plants shipped in was exceedingly difficult, and so I was left with potatoes which, while nice, just really don't do the job for me. I'll definitely be looking to planting a few others next year and foregoing any sort of salad/boiled new potato option as sprog just really isn't a fan; bakers and chips are what he's all about, and I'm all about being able to store copious quantities of spuds to provide for that. Carrots being one of the few things my son will it, it's also disappointing when I couldn't get them to grow. So, again, slug control.
The frosts - oh dear, the frosts. They really did a lot of my crops in, and that was true of many people. It was nigh on impossible to get certain plants in, and some of mine died where they stood; zinnias, all but one lone dahlia, squashes, and so forth. More frost protection required, although I did have the "backup squash" ready to go when I noted the orange hubbard just really wasn't going to make it.
Cutting the grass is now going to be a bit of a challenge - due to the levels I will be unable to lift a lawnmower to each (well, I might, if I'm careful, I'll experiment). Still, I've been using a strimmer at the moment, especially due to the rocks in the garden and the lack of adequate topsoil. The grass situation is a bugbear of mine as the ground really is horribly rubbish soil and I can only grow in some patchy bits right now. The weed problem will also have to be dealt with, probably with a nasty amount of chemicals in the spring to get rid of the bindweed. NOT an option I enjoy but I'm the type of person who enjoys walking in a garden barefoot without hitting loads of prickle-plants, so in this one matter, I will bend a bit to the Church of Chemical Additions, but I will not bow completely in obeisance.
The hilly rise along the fence in the first partition - they couldn't level this due to the way the fence was put in; if they had, the whole fence would have toppled over! So I have an uneven sort of plateau along the fenceline, which I'm now wondering whether or not I should treat that as a raised bed and maybe get some more timbers put alongside. I've already started treating that as my herb bed and I'm planting chamomile, sage, lavender and bergamot. If I could section it off (and therefore control the root-growth) I'll put in the violet and maybe some mint, as well as a bit of yarrow. Again, that's a project for another year.
The flower beds have been started, but they are ONLY a start - there's so much more work to go before I'm happy with them; the clematis will need some sort of climbing structure, the sprog's flower beds need filling out with more soil and less weeds, the bed I currently have started with a bit of goat's rue, a bush mallow and another clematis is going to need a lot more filling out for interest's sake - but that involves propagating what I have, and maybe supplementing with a few more things. I've already mentioned I am looking to some tulips here and there, which I think would be a lovely addition.
The sloping issue in the garden is, mostly, gone - but for a slope up from the second partition to the last bit, which is still rather steep, but there wasn't much chance of dealing with it with the minimal amount of cash we had to work with. It's navigable for now, but I am of the opinion there might need to be a step there in the future.
The side of the garden - opposite the current patio - is also in need of some sort of work, but I'm at a loss as to what, or how to tackle it. The huge railway sleepers probably could do with being removed first, but there's no chance of me managing that on my own. I've figured that a quick solution would be to put down some membrane and then put some rubber chips on top of that, at least to make it less unsightly, but it still won't be a full solution to the issue of having a weedfree, uncluttered space where I can still barbecue without fear of the whole thing tipping over. This is a mission for next year, I think. For now, I'm just going to try and keep it as weed-free as possible and get a bit of advice.
On the whole I'm very happy with how far we've come. I'm also trying not to get so caught up in "work in progress" to actually SEE the garden and enjoy it. Granted, it's not hard to do considering what it used to look like. Here's to many more days of colour-gazing, veggie-munching, fruit-nibbling, flower-scenting and deep breathing.

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