Testing our green fingers
After spending a lot of time working on the inside of the house we turned our attention to the garden. And we had our work cut out for us! Neither of us had much experience with anything more than a few pots with herbs in them. Luckily my Mum is a keen gardener and helped us to identify the plants and shrubs we'd inherited and also helped us to plan out what we should tackle first.
We're really lucky and have a good sized garden. It has five different levels and areas including a rockery and a sloped lawn. Above you can see the very back of the garden and the steepest section. The garden was obviously the previous owner's pride and joy but we heard from a neighbour that old age had prevented her from tending her precious plants and shrubs any further than the patio by the house. And to get to this steep part at the back of the garden is quite a journey. We wanted to pay homage to her hard work and efforts and some of the plants, shrubs and trees are so old and established I couldn't bear the thought of just uprooting them.
However, although we were total amateurs when it came to gardening one thing we did figure out (with help from Mum) was that a lot of the plants here at the back had 'bolted' while searching out sunlight after years of being shaded by overhanging trees from a plot of abandoned land next door, while simultaneously being deprived of water. They had to go...
We didn't clear absolutely everything out of the space, there was and still is an abundance of Crocosmia which produces lots of little orange flowers. Our aim with this area was to try and create some flatter levels to stop rainwater just draining away. So we hunted for rocks and boulders online (using Freecycle and Gumtree), borrowed a friend's pick-up (and their muscles) and managed to source enough to start making terraced areas ready for planting.
The steps up to our back gate run through the middle of this steep part of the garden. We'd terraced the right hand side and planted in some new shrubs we bought at a car boot sale. Now to tackle the left hand side. This side had really suffered from the overhanging trees next door and an established Japanese plum tree in our garden was taking a lot of the rainwater so the soil in this section was bone dry.
We researched the best plants to try and establish with these soil conditions and discovered alpines. These tiny plants can live in the poorest of soil conditions but they are beautiful - lots of alpine varieties are flowering and all of them have intricate leaves and structures. We dotted them around pebbles and some of our concrete casting experiments. Here's a work in progress shot...
Small pieces of broken slate help to break up the planting, hold pea gravel in place especially when you're dealing with sloping ground and they create more texture and interest too.
The rocks and boulders we sourced from Freecycle and Gumtree
The majority of our pebbles, pea gravel and other bits of aggregates came from Wickes
Plants all came from local car boot sales and the garden centre near our house
Update: Sept 2017 - both sides are really thriving - I'll update this post soon with some new photos.