Today I decided against a visit to a National Trust place, and instead tackled something nearer to home.
We bought this place in 1986, complete with overgrown weed infested orchard. Most of the trees were way past their best and I now have three left (one is dead now); H and I spent ages getting the weeds up, then we had someone come in to rotovate and lay turf. It looked good for a long time but has been neglected over the past fifteen years, so last year I bit the bullet and found a really good and reasonable gardener. This chap has been worth his weight in gold....he’s transformed the front garden from a weedy eyesore into a neat area with bark chippings and two large planting boxes, which I have filled with Lady of Shalott roses (it’s quite Pre-Raphaelite here, you know!)
My H once made a barrier to fence off the top area of the garden – the fencing isn’t secure and our dog escaped a few times. This barrier is now falling to pieces – it’s been there for quite a while – and Mark the gardener has made a proper pair of gates which he’s going to fit.
Yet something else to make life easier....I will just be able to open a gate to get to the garage and top of the garden, instead of mauling a wood-and-chicken-wire construction around.
Mark’s plan for this year is to returf the garden and put in two wide, curving beds which I will plant with roses, and maybe some interplanted lilies. It will look fabulous. The garden naturally divides into two areas; the area behind the house which is a rectangular, rather messy thing, in progress; and the top end where the garages and dog run are – totally overgrown and currently used as a dumping ground for garden waste. Eventually my plan is for this area to become a veg garden in raised beds, and my greenhouse should be relocated there too, if it survives dismantling...
I was trying earlier to remember when we did this....some years ago H and I put a small pond in, next to the greenhouse at the top of the formal garden area. It started out as a stepped rectangle lined with butyl, and it was nice for a while, but for one of my birthdays (can’t remember which one) H bought me a preformed pond liner.
We then proceeded to have WW3 while digging it in. If you’re thinking of doing a pond, trust me....butyl is by far easier. And if it does leak, you can easily drain the pond and just reline it with more butyl. However, after much sweat and toil and bad language we got it level, filled with water, and in time, we bought goldfish and shubunkins. A passing heron made off with some of them, and the rest sadly died of tadpole attack (yes, really) some years back. It was horrible...the tadpoles latched on to the fish and gradually nibbled away at their scales. I have never seen anything like it but googled the net and found that this can happen, especially when there is insufficient weed cover for the fish.
Quite possibly it might have been a good idea to fish out and relocate the frogspawn; the pond was probably over populated with frogs.
Since then, the pond has been neglected along with everything else, and up until half an hour ago, it was full of stagnant water and coated with duckweed. One of the cats (Katie) fell in it when she was a curious little kitten. It’s now empty, the duckweed is lining the sides, and there is a nice layer of sludge at the bottom. It will be easy enough to clean it out. A job for another day.
I’ll wait and see how the garden develops before restocking the pond; firstly I want to see if there will be a place to hide the filter box, and secondly I need to rig up another cable to the power source (in the garage).
While the pond was emptying I weeded around my remaining roses, and weeded the boxes in the front garden. Didn’t take long and well worth the effort....not least because it helped my headache subside, and I feel better for having got outside and achieved something.
There are a few rugosa alba roses left in the border (Mark ripped the majority of it out last autumn) and I notice they have new leaf buds on them.
A sign of spring.
I used to get such pleasure from gardening.....and this year, I hope to regain some of that joy.