Making A Garden

Lockdown gardening in the new house

We moved house in December to a place with a fairly decent sized garden.

The garden was a big selling point for us, not least because our previous house had more of a back yard than a garden. When you have green fingers, it’s quite frustrating to be restricted to concrete slabs and pots.

We have lots of plans for the garden. Some of our ideas are quite well thought out, and some others are us making it up as we go along. The photos below show what the garden was like when he moved in, and what we’ve managed to do so far – basically since the lockdown began.

The new garden is long, and a bit ‘L’ shaped. It needed quite a bit of work.

The first thing we wanted rid of were the paving stones. The top half of the garden had the stones where we wanted a flower bed. The bottom half – the path was too wide and uneven. We had plans for a lawn and veggie patches. That all meant moving the slabs, which were incredibly heavy.

The paving stones, while numerous and cumbersome, were not the biggest obstacle. The two biggest issues were the moss and the ivy.

This is the side fence. The ivy owned this part of the garden. It streamed over, and covered up plants and the border. The past couple of years had clearly seen the ivy do what it wanted.

The bottom fence not only had ivy, but also had brambles and roots growing through from plants in the neighboring field. I saw this and ordered a thick pair of heavy duty gardening gloves for less than £6.00.

This hawthorn bush had also been left unkempt, and the ivy had choked it up. This was my first job in the garden – to give this fella a haircut. As you can see, there was an odd wooden / chicken-wire structure. That had to go too.

There was a patio at the bottom of the garden which had potential. But look at the ivy, and the state of the fence. Another thing that had potential was the railway sleeper. But it, like the slabs, was bloody heavy.

Yeah, there was lots of work to do, but look at this. The garden was still beautiful. At the bottom of the garden is a cow field, and we have a gate into that field. Beyond the field is a stream, a dam, a forest and lots of wildlife. Foxes, rabbits, squirrels, deer and possible some hedgehogs too.

As an indicator of how overgrown the ivy was, look at this chest. It was completely covered over. We didn’t know it was there until we started chopping. Unfortunately, it provided no drama. It was empty, and the lid promptly fell off it’s rusted, rotten hinges. More of a tetanus chest than a treasure one.

The first veggie bed! As soon as it was dug out, I covered it in mulch. This bed is for tomatoes, but they won’t be going out until June. Still, it was progress, and that was a great feeling.

There was also a lot of digging out to do further up the garden to make a flower bed. This while take a longer while to fill out. We’re planting summer bulbs into pots, which we’ll transfer out later. This will look amazing mid-summer.

My back aches just looking at these pictures. This involved the lifting of the paving slabs, and the clearing out of a tonne of white chip stones underneath them to prepare the ground for grass seed.

This is the view from the back gate over the cow field. We call it the cow field because we’re told that cows come into the field, but we’re now into May and we’re yet to hear a single moo. Still, it’s too late to call it anything else.

The paving stones and railway sleeper became a make-shift bench. Up-cycling at it’s finest!

A couple of partly disassembled and painted pallets made for a lovely fence. Another smaller piece of wood left in the garden topped the fence and made a nice shelf for pots and planters.

The middle slats of the fence were perfect to make into little planters for herbs. Mint in this one, and coriander in another.

I also made a table. It wasn’t that difficult,, although the Wickes order for the timber contained some warped planks. A bit frustrating, but considering that this table would have cost us about £600 new, an amazing bargain. (Total cost of materials – less than £90). There was also enough wood to make a matching kid-sized bench.

One veg patch became three. Bloody hell – lifting lawn is back-breaking. Luckily, the soil underneath appears to be really good quality.

We planted assorted onions, sugar snap peas, rocket, spinach, carrots and dug a fourth patch for potatoes.

More benches. Planning ahead to when this lockdown ends and we can have family around.

Renovations! The neighbours were going to throw out an old kettle barbeque. I asked if I could take it and try to fix it up. I was already in the process of renovating a rusty chiminea, which came out really well.

I used a wire brush in a drill to clean off the rust and sprayed it with heat-proof BBQ paint. It came out well.

A little scrap wood, sanded, and inscribed with a soldering iron made for a cracking sign for the rockery.

My first beer in the garden was definitely a moment worthy of a photograph. I may get this framed.

These tomatoes (four varieties) will go out into the garden in mid-June. There are also chillies and peppers which will go into the horrible plastic greenhouse which we bought, along with various herbs.

And this is what is growing just now (early-May). The top are the sugar-snap peas, and the potatoes are underneath.

The grass seed is coming through, but it’s putting the older grass to shame. The lawn has a lot of moss to remove, at which point it’ll get some new seed of it’s own.

There are the summer bulbs, and some potatoes in the steel pot. They’re doing wel.

The flower bed is starting to get some occupants. The topsoil seems to dry out quite quickly, but hopefully when it gets a bit busier, it’ll be less obvious.

We inherited some wild poppies. It’s a perk to living around here. They seem happy to spread quite easily, which we’re more than happy about.

We brought a hosta, which seems happy in it’s new home. We’ve had good success with planting stuff which we formerly had in pots. The exceptions are the clematis, which has a little new growth, but died right back first. We also have camelia which is quite fussy, and is struggling a bit.

A final shot of the cow field with a happy Jenny in the foreground. You can also see the dam, which people would fish at if it wasn’t for the lockdown.

The silver lining for the lockdown for us has been that it’s given us time to work on the garden which we otherwise would have had to do at the odd weekend, weather permitting. I’ll be posting pics in the future of updates to the garden. With the plants / bulbs to be potted out in June, the ongoing saga of the moss removal / new seed and deciding where hop plants and a conker tree should go, there’s lots to keep you updated about.


I’ve got a few suggestions for things you might be interested in picking up. (These links all go to Amazon, so they’ll register as an affiliate link from me.) They’re all things that I got and genuinely recommend:

The stove paint :

Miracle-Gro EverGreen Multi Purpose Lawn Seed :

This boot tray is perfect for keeping seedlings on :

Shelving for the shed :

Our garden bench :

The seedling mat that I use to propagate the seeds indoors :

Happy Gardening!

7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    10th May 2020
    Reply

    What a wonderful job you have done, didn’t realise you were into gardening. It looks like you are going to be quite self sufficient. Perhaps a few chickens would finish the job off.

  2. Avatar
    Rosemary Szuster
    10th May 2020
    Reply

    Well done, Grant! The hard work you, Emma and the girls have done is starting to pay off. Should be lovely by the summer! Can’t wait for a family barbecue.

  3. Avatar
    Susan B
    14th May 2020
    Reply

    Wow! A great job and a lovely garden.

  4. Avatar
    Rachel Craig
    20th May 2020
    Reply

    A great opportunity, which it seems you are making the most of. Enjoy!

  5. Avatar
    Don R
    27th May 2020
    Reply

    Great job. Well done!

  6. Avatar
    Tracy Barber
    4th June 2020
    Reply

    Great job done, can’t wait to read the updates

  7. Avatar
    Kellie E
    4th June 2020
    Reply

    Lovely to read your story so far. You have done an amazing job and looking forward to seeing more

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