Wednesday, 17 June 2015

In My Garden


Our back garden is wide, square and a good size, for these parts. It's surrounded by tall trees - laurel, firs, juniper - and there's a lot of bird activity. There is space for a small shed, a ten foot trampoline and a generous decked area where we sit and eat, when it's warm enough. Two long washing lines run diagonally across the lawn which is covered in weeds and abandoned footballs. Propped up against the house is a pile of chopped wood and an large empty planter. One day there will be a proper wood store and a lovely herb garden in that empty planter, maybe this summer, but probably next. But the main hurdle for me has been the lack of character. Our garden in Leeds was tiny but it had an apple tree and a dry stone wall, it had features and history. Our new outdoor space feels bland and featureless in comparison but what it lacks in charm, it makes up for in flexibility and possibilities.

The kitchen, dining room, spare room, office and the childrens' bedrooms all look directly out onto the garden. This is lovely in so many ways, but means we wanted it to look nice, interesting even, because we're always gazing out at it. Straight ahead lay an expanse of wooden fence panels which ran along the back boundary and one the first things we did - with the help of my parents who are handy with a spade - was create a flower bed to run along that fence. 


Did I mention that everything we're doing in this garden is on a very tight budget? We are trying to re-use and re-purpose wherever possible - not through choice, but because moving house (especially from the north of the country to the south) is an expensive business. We were given three blackcurrant bushes and one redcurrant bush by my sister when she moved house and didn't want to take them with her, and luckily they have transplanted from pots into the earth beautifully. The other plants and the stone edging were taken from a "rockery" in another part of the garden. I call it that, if a load of shingle dumped on top of soil and covered in barren planting, Dungeness-style, called be called a rockery. It was sad, and these plants look better and are growing nicely in their new sunnier spot.


Two months later, the plants already seem to be filling out that flower bed, providing interest and colour where before there was nothing. (Mental note: cut the grass.)


The next task was Operation Trampoline. In the bottom left corner there was a dumping ground which might have been a compost heap once, and a leaning, half painted fence. It's not a good look, I'm sure you'll agree.


We cleared and leveled the ground in that corner, covered it in anti-weed matting and a lot of wood chip, pruned the tree branches a little, and set up a trampoline in that space. I am very happy with this. I do not much like the look of trampolines slap bang in the middle of the garden but this means I can see the kids on it from the kitchen window and it's tucked away neatly in the corner. It feels like a good compromise. 


The bottom right hand corner of the garden has been decked. When we moved in, we wondered why on earth they bothered to create a decked area here when there was already plenty enough decking by the patio doors from the dining room. Then summer came and the sun rolled around the edge of the house and we realised.


That spot is a sun trap, a delicious patch of sunshine in an otherwise shaded north-east facing garden. I have plans for a bench to go where that barbecue is right now. Me, that bench, a few cushions, a cup of tea and a book have a date planned for sometime in July or August. We're not putting pressure on ourselves, just taking it slow.


Sadly the larger decked area (like so many things in this house) is half finished, and badly finished at that, but it'll do for now. Whoever built it just chucked all kinds of rubble under it and put the decking on top, not even bothering to finish the edges properly or take off the barcode stickers. Anyway, don't focus on that, look at this lovely table and chairs. When our friends in Leeds moved to Australia, they were going to take this furniture to the tip. "Don't!" I said, "There's life in that yet!" and quick as a flash I was round there with the car, back seats down, ready to load up. One chair was beyond saving, but John has sanded and oiled the table and remaining three chairs and I think they look fabulous. 


I reckon there's a few years in them yet. I took this photo a couple of weeks ago when the rhododendron bushes were in full, magnificent bloom. They're fading now, but still looking good.

Last of all I'll show you the shed. It's another generous freebie, from my brother in law who no longer needed it, and it's just big enough for the gardening things and lawnmower. While we have a good sized garage, there is no access directly from the garage to the back garden, and it's much easier to keep gardening things in here.  John plans to build a wood store in that space between the shed and the bush, and the groundwork in front of the shed needs finishing.



So, there we go, I finally got round to giving you a tour of our garden. It's probably the kind of garden that a lot of people in the UK have, in terms of size and layout. A square of lawn, a square of decking or patio, a shed...very normal, very practical. And so far our spending has been limited to woodchip, compost and a few plants, very, very little, for all the work we've done. Plants have been moved, stones re-used, furniture and sheds rescued or donated - it's all about saving money right now.

Sorry, these photos aren't very pretty, are they? There seemed little point in trying to photograph this garden artfully when I just want to share with you what it looks like. You can see I haven't tidied anything, and you can't style a garden, it's just too big. Anyway, don't you sometimes just want to see what people's actual, normal gardens really look like? I do. Is your garden like this?  

38 comments:

Jennifer said...

I think your garden looks really good. I like the way the trampoline is tucked into the back corner. I don't have a trampoline but I agree with you, they don't look very good sitting in the middle of the yard. The planting next to the fence looks great. I think it gives it a nice finished look. My backyard is really pretty similar to yours, maybe a little less grass space, but it's harder to grow it here so I don't mind having a smallish grass area. I like your patio furniture, I'm so glad you rescued it!

driftwood said...

good to see you have a 5 o'clock gin and tonic sun spot, the most important part of any garden. x

the linen cloud said...

It looks great Gillian! I hope you get lots of summer sunshine to enjoy your suntrap. Bee xx

Jo said...

Lots of promise there. You have made a good start.I guess you like the lawn space but my only advice, take it or leave it, just a thought, would be to double the border width along your fence so that you can get a 3D effect with plants. Tall at the back and small at the front. Deep borders look good from the upstairs and more luxurious from ground level. Then you can plant a climber with other plants in front. Big ideas I have!. I wish I could come and help you dig then sit on those lovely chairs with a cuppa! But whatever you do it will take time and your garden will grow with you. Check out this blog my garden diaries her borders are gorgeous! Jo x

Ingrid Orens said...

Gillian, I am impressed ! To think you've only moved in a couple of months ago and already have such a nice and tidy garden ! I think you'll have a fantastic first summer there (if we're lucky enough to get a decent summer this year, that is...)

Sandra (Cherry Heart) said...

I dunno, I think the photos are pretty good and they definitely show your garden off beautifully and I agree, there is plenty of potential there. You've already made a difference and improved the view out the window, great start!

S x

Lisa said...

Great re-use of the rockery as the edging for the flower border. The corner and the trampoline were made for each other. Happy days to come on the decking I'm sure. What a great start.
Lisa x

Gillian said...

Jo that's a brilliant idea! That border needs height and depth. I like the lawn space for the kid's games but we can spare some. X

rachel said...

It looks like it has bags of potential, and you are just the one to make the very most of it. Raid you mums and sisters garden's for cuttings to start new plants for free too. Love seeing that table and chairs given a new lease of life, I hope the three of us get to sit at it and drink white wine on a summer's evening together again x

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jo, definitely a good idea to deepen that border so you can get more varied height in if you can bear to lose a little lawn. Climbers along the fence. Cuttings from whoever/wherever. And sow from seed if you can – we've saved a heap of money this year by growing lots of our own plants. And you can get lovely cheap pots on ebay. Your garden looks great considering you've been there such a short time. When we moved here I was advised to leave our garden for at least a year to see what grew and how we used it. We left it for two and the place was almost wild... Thank you for showing us yours. Sam x

Sol said...

I love rhododendrons. and the word. rhododendron. its all coming together. what a lovely spot for a bench

CJ said...

What a lovely space Gillian, you know what a fan I am of gardens. The new plants are doing brilliantly, you must have good soil I think. The patio furniture is brilliant, fancy it being thrown out. Well rescued! Ditto the shed. I shall look forward to seeing the changes you make. We have a typical family garden I think. A patio for eating on and winter ball games, a grassy area that my other half refuses to call a lawn because of the daisies and dandelions and a few raised beds for vegetables. Oh yes, and a long straight path for scooting on at speed with a step at the end for flying off of. Something for everyone. It's not one of those beautiful gardener's gardens full of plants. Maybe one day, but for now the children like the space to run about and hit things, you know how it is. CJ xx

SaraJ said...

Always good to identify the sunny spot to have a cuppa or a glass of wine! I hope there are lots of sunny days for you all to enjoy it. x

Penny said...

Your garden is taking shape brilliantly, you have worked so hard and been very thrifty and clever with your finds. It will give you lots of pleasure in years to come. X

Cheryl mylittlepieceofengland said...

You have a lovely big garden, definitely lots of potential though it looks pretty good in the photos already xx

Michelle H said...

I love having your trampoline in the corner. My kids would love one, but we've put it off for so long because we just don't like how they look. We also live in such a damp area that burying one isn't the greatest idea, either. I really like your nice, tall fence! Everything is coming along beautifully!

Mac n' Janet said...

You've got quite a nice start on your backyard and how great to repurpose and reuse instead of spending.

Librarian said...

Nothing wrong with it, in my opinion! When you said you don't like trampolines bang in the middle of a garden, I was so glad - because I think they look awful and really bring down the entire look and feel of a garden, but they seem to be so essential nowadays, everyone "must" have one. Of course I would have never written that in a comment had you not said yourself that you don't like them, and I think the way you handled your "trampoline situation" very well!
It's a good sized garden, and those chairs and table are wonderful - hard to believe they were about to be thrown out. Love the flower bed along the fence with the stones at the edge.

Sarah said...

It all looks pretty good to me! You have space for vegetables and maybe a cut flower bed. Maybe sow wildflower seeds onto the lawn and cut a path through it. I envy the size of your garden. And I love the idea of your reading bench...
Are you a fan of Gardeners' World? It's a Friday night staple in this house.
Hope you have a great summer outdoors.
S x

Ali Whale said...

I can't believe how much you have got through in such a short space of time. Your garden looks great and I like that it fits your family. We had a trampoline for years but once it went we redid our little garden for the grown ups. We still have grass, I love grass and mowing the lawn. Great results for little effort I always think. As to saving money on plants I would ask around at work as anyone with an interest would be happy to share I'm sure. Whenever I did seedlings or split a hosta I always offered to people I knew had the same interest as me. Worth a try??

Cleo Bonbon said...

I'm really enjoying seeing your new home as it develops, even just from photos it seems like it is a really happy place to be x

VeggieMummy said...

Your garden is looking lovely and you've done such a lot in a short space of time. Well done on rescuing that furniture - it's fantastic. xx

Jacqueline said...

Thank you for a tour around your garden, it is looking good. If you're looking for reasonably priced plants look out for home made signs on the road side, many keen gardeners take cuttings from their own gardens and sell them on. I've picked up quite a few bargains, that way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tour Gillian and like Jo and Sam I would definitely double the depth of your back border so you can vary the planting, instead of having plants in a row like soldiers. Think of how you create corners of interest in your home, you want to try and achieve the same effect in your garden. But take your time and enjoy the process as there is no such thing as a finished garden. If you have any bare soil a good tip right now is to sprinkle some annual seed like love-in-a-mist (Nigella) and you will have flowers before the summer ends and seed heads to see you through the autumn, then next year if you don't weed them out you will have free flowers as early as May. Another tip is to visit other gardens. There are some really lovely gardens in Sussex which open under the National Gardens Scheme and they often have good well-grown plants for sale too.

Jean said...

I'm really enjoying reading your blog, and having a peak around your garden. It has plenty of space for the children, which was always a priority for mine when they were little. We lived in a house with a big lawn and a playhouse at the bottom of the garden, they spent many happy summers playing safely in the garden (we lived on a main road so couldn't play outside). Now they're older and we live in a house with a much smaller garden, with a tiny postage-stamp sized lawn. Not suitable for little kids, but fine for us now.

Annie Cholewa said...

You've done marvels already, and I see masses more potential, I'm sure it will be marvellous when you;re done!

Our garden is small, south facing, has a shed in the corner, a path leading off through a gate that takes you out to the road (we keep the bins and bbq hidden away there) and ivy clad fencing. It is completedly paved with a random arrangement of Cotswold stone coloured slabs, and where there would be borders at the edges there are pebble covered soakaways with pots standing on them. At the moment there are lots of white and lilac violas and cineraria out there (I've picked some and have it in a jug indoors, you can see it on my blog at the moment). We have lots of hanging baskets too. I love a nice lawn but with six dogs what we have is much more practical, it's really easy to keep it scrupulously clean, I'm a bit fanatical about that.

mags said...

Wow I can't believe the change! My garden is tiny and it's still a mess.

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Jan Doling said...

Your garden is looking good and I am sure you will go on improving the space u til you get it just right for you. It is already looking a whole lot better than my garden at the moment, which I am ashamed to say is looking like a jungle. xx

Curvywitch said...

A fruit bush hedge - what a brilliant idea! You've achieved masses already and with inspiration like that it won't be long 'til you've got it just right for you. :-)

Marion Ogden said...

I'd love to have a garden like yours. It's spacious and over the years you can add flowers and plants, move things around, etc. It's a perfect blank space and I know you'll make it really lovely. X

Clare said...

It's starting to take shape I love the photo with the table and chairs and the new borders looking good.
Clare xx

Katie said...

thank you for sharing your garden, a great to see the progress you made. I did a similar post recently, following much work on our garden this year (though we have been here four years so you have put us to shame somewhat) my pictures are not anything like as good as yours but it is here if you fancy a reciprocal tour! http://whatkatiewrotenext.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/standing-in-garden.html

Daisy Jones said...

I love pics like that the ones that show transformations...its so easy to forget how the ideas came to be and what it all looked like before...
best daisy j x

galant said...

That shed, with windows cut into the doors, and painted a pretty colour would make a wonderful summerhouse! Only joking ... I think your husband would have something to say about that idea!!!
Margaret P

Anonymous said...

I would paint the shed a more natural colour (Annie Sloan it!). Also, car boot sales are fab for cheap plants, Lupins for 50p last week! Youve mad e a terrific start in sucha short time, enjoy the process.xx

The Creative Academic said...

Garden is looking great Gillian! This is the first year since having the girls I've been able to spend some time on ours and it's looking better for it. I put lots of daffodil bulbs in last autumn - they're fairly inexpensive if you buy a huge bag at b&q (even better if you don't let them rot in the garage first!) and we got a great show this year xx

Caroline South said...

What a great job you've done already. The table and chairs look great and love your idea of a bench in that sunny spot. xx