Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The start of a garden.......

Ok you might wonder what the peedie pup has to do with making a garden - well it's simple really - In order to contain my little cairn terrier I have to make my garden peedie-proof. NO mean feat. And of course, he loves the beach and knows there is a beach at the bottom of the field.........Whilst the field is empty in the winter, on our island all the coo's go indoors throughout the winter - in late March/Early April the coo's will be in this field and plodding through this burn.......

In order to have a garden on an island one of the first things you also need to create is shelter - which means the peedie proofing and the shelter sort of go hand in hand. As you can see from the photo of the burn, the whole garden is basically railed - but has little in the way of any real shelter for the garden - and a million escape routes for a very clever dog.

SO the first task of the day has to be to put up some rabbit/chicken wire fencing at the bottom of the wooden fence, also to make it slopes outwards along the ground- to start to diminish any hope the puppy has of getting out of the garden by just walking under the fence edge. The fencing is longer than needed to keep the ground covered a bit as well - I will plant cuttings of willow through a few bits of the fence on the ground to make it secure and the vegetation it lies on will make sure that it grows through to secure it as well.

The next stage is to put up some of the green webbed netting - I've 150m of this to put up around the garden, to create shelter. You can see the rabbit netting lying flat on the ground and its now tucked behind the green netting to secure it. Island living means lots of space, but it also means salt laden heavy strong winds which can shred plants at any time of year, from any direction. We are lucky to be just one field from the sea, but that also means that the winds will be heavy with salt, with little in the way of protection from thier force either. I like this kind of weather, but, as a gardener its not the best to try and work with unless you can create some shelter. So in order to start to create a garden some shelter from either fencing or native shrubs and trees to create my garden. To give the shrubs a good start - putting some windbreak up will help whilst they establish and of course they also keep the peedie-pup in the garden! So its beneficial all round. I'm also planting my hedge with a view to growing some of my own fuel for a woodburner which we are hoping to install in the house later this year. SO the hedge will have many, many functions; who say's plants don't work hard!Some plants like this Hebe (who has been nicknamed Pheobe) are really good at withstanding wind and this one has grown really well - so I'm tucking the netting behind it and giving it some TLC. I will take some cuttings from this one when I've more shelter established and perhaps a polytunnel up to nuture on the cuttings. For my hedge I'm mainly going for natives, but I am going to intersperce a few pretty evergreens which tolerate the seaside. Things like Escalonia, Hebe, Grissolenia, Olearea, Ulex and a few other evergreens don't mind the salty air. Other non-evergreen garden plants like Rosa rugosa, Fushia, Buddleia and many others also tolerate a fair bit of salty wind and are great for the birds, bees, butterflies and wildlife as well.After a bit of sorting out the netting we got to a bit which made us a bit stuck, its an old fence and whilst probably past its best in some ways - still has alot of life in it too - so we've used some of the netting to help strengthen the fence as well and perk it up a bit - which means once the hedge I want to plant is grown the fence will be just about invisible! We've a bit of sawing and sorting to do in the corner so we went for a cuppa then and had a peedie think about what to do. The little shrub there is a Fushia, whilst it looks a bit sorry for itself right now, soon enough it will be benefitting from the shelter we've created. There are very few plants in the garden at the moment - but once the fence is up that will change.

This is the view from the upstairs window of the living room, we were surveying our handywork with a cup of hot chocolate, the wind was cold and our fingers needed a warm up. For the moment I'm quite happy to see the fence in all its ramshackle glorly and look forward to becoming better aquainted with it. The next part of the fence is ready to get going once we get the saw out. I am really enthusiastic about being able to create a lovely bit of shelter here for some of my plants to get a good start. Peedie-pup, however, is less enthusiastic - he rather likes sneaking through into the field - more like a game of dog and owner than cat and mouse................... We had to stop there as I was off to teach a veggie gardening class with a local expert - he's letting me be his 'girl friday' its so interesting hearing him talk so knowledgably about growing plants on this island, it really is very different to anywhere else in the UK.

Until I get shelter here - I don't have a hope of growing as much as a tattie, marigold or a pot of herbs as the tops of all the plants will be scorched by the wind - so I had better get a wriggle on if I want a garden this year.


  1. Looks like a lot of preparation to get started, think it may take a while to peedie proof that lot. I'd love a polytunnel if i had more space, and if it weren't so windy where we are.
    I was thinking of a few shrus to act as windbreaks ,looks like hebe may be the way to go with that idea - do you reckon the chickens would leave them alone?

  2. Hmm - chickens are notoriously bad at scuffing things up - if you got a decent sized hebe (2-3 ltr pot) and then put down some matting or something to stop them scratching at the roots you might be OK.............Ever thought of either rasps, rosa rugosa or something productive for your shelter belt - rosa rugosa goes great guns here and also has big lovely hips in the autumn - get them bare rooted at the moment - and plant a decent windbreak hedge - it grows close to the beach here and is spikey enough to deter chickens.......and you can also make jelly/syrup wiht the hips

  3. Phoebe the Hebe? I wonder where on Earth you got that idea from....la la la la la! x x