Thursday, 16 December 2010

9 months = 273.93 gorgeous days in the garden

My flowery boots (recycled!)  are covered in snow at the moment. Gales and snow have forced me onto the sofa for a cuppa and a think about the last year in the garden.
Well it is arctic out there in the garden I'm tucked up on sofa thinking about what we'll do next and thought it would be fun to find a few photo of what we've done since March (9 months ago) when we moved in and started the garden here. I want the garden to be both pretty and productive, part of my good life asset - the place where we live, we are hoping will be one where we can become self sufficient from too! For any 'non-gardeners' reading this - you might find my plod around the garden a bit non-sensical but us gardeners do like to talk about what we've done in the garden.
We've inheritated a gorgeous view - close to the sea, makes gardening breathtaking, but a bit breezy!
We viewed the house in the dark - and to be honest the only thing I really wanted to know about was the garden, I knew from the location it would be a gorgeous place for a home, it had enough bedrooms and a spare for visitors. When we saw it in the daylight we found out the garden had a battered fence, one hebe in it and a scraggy fushia so we netted it with chicken wire then added the green wind netting.

The first thing I wanted to do was to put a bit of shelter on the fence to protect the plants and to make a barrier between peedie and the field! There are cows in the field in the summer and we don't want him in there with them! Out came the chicken wire, wind netting, nails and 50 metres of willow cuttings later - we've a barrier for him to stop him sneaking out of the garden.......................and the beginning of a hedge.
The start of the windproofing!

The beginning of a hedge, hard wood cutting, right into uncultivated edge of garden (herbicide Round-up)

End of september and the hedge is 1m tall - not bad for free cuttings, clever hedge.
Next thing I did was to move my plants from the old house and put them into tubs, fishboxes and tucked in places from the wind. This took a wee bit of time, I've been known to move as many plants as boxes of furniture. I love ladies mantle and it works well in a seaside garden, I love it as the filler in cut flowers for the house. I can't get enough of this plant - it looks great wet too and it rains alot here! I'm making a 'ladies' walkway around the house - the entire outside of the house has a little path right round, so I'm going to put my cheery plant there for me to look at it when I walk out with my coffee in my socks in the morning......
Alchemilla mollis, Ladies mantle waiting in its little fish box house until I get it into the garden.
In July, of course came the hens, so we made a place for them to live with recycled stobs (fence posts) and an old pallet for a gate - there is the only tree in the garden in their coup - an elder - which lost its leaves in september because of the wind! They live here in the summer and in the byre in the winter.

After the hens I started digging up bits of the lawn! I love doing this, grass in my opinion is a waste of a good bit of growing area.  My main starting idea was to create a few barriers using hardy hedges (Fushia majellanica, Hebe, Gorse, Flowering current and Rosa rugosa) which would stand up to the wind here - to help divide up the garden and give me little areas to work in and to give a bit of shelter for a few lovely plants. Under the hedge I've planted Ajuga reptens - which you can't really see at the moment under that Fushia but it will keep the weeds down and give a nice contrast to the red/purple Fushia flowers.
Fushia magellanica hedge (look hard its there....honest!) with Ajuga reptans 'Atropurpurea' under for ground cover.
Digging up the garden is quite fun. You do need alot of nerve - to slice a bit of lawn out of the garden and commit it to plants, but you can do this in many ways - I had a think about the middle of the section outside the upstairs window - I wanted something that would look good from above in the living room and from the window of the downstairs sunny room where we often eat. I decided on a circle bed in the middle of the garden - with a bit of walking back and forth, shoving in a few canes and leaving it to look from upstairs - I decided on where to put the circle and what size it would be.  Next came the 'professional garden tools' to make the design - a spade, a dog lead (which was just the right length of half the diameter I wanted), a jar of porridge and a stick.
It worked for hansel and gretel didn't it? We don't need high tech gear! Just hooked the dog lead in the centre of the bed on a stick, walked around gently sprinkling porridge in my wake - quite fun really (peedie did try and eat it though!)
Porridge saving the day - helping me mark out my circle bed, after this I just dug up the turf., quickly to get ahead of the porridge eating dog.
Hey presto a few local beach stones and an oblisk, to make a lovely bird table for the birds - which blew away!!! Now, its under construction - I've got my thinking cap on!
Don't worry I'm nearly finished - the last few bits I did to the garden this year was to put the daisy bed which I'm hoping that the ox-eye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare or Chrysanthemum leucanthemum), will be a big lovley cheery welcome to the house when people come to visit - well we hope so glad we got that in - not alot of planting in this garden so far - just alot of digging things up! (All good)

The daisy bed, um, minus the daisies! 
And, finally I made a start on the vegetable garden and the bed for a fruity hedge (Autumn fruiting raspberries will give me the best chance of any fruit in this climate as they flower later) and underplanted with alpine strawberries - I made that from stones from the old fallen down byre and a plank of wood - ir matches the daisy bed.

The soon to be fruity-hedge - it will shelter the veggie garden and will give me fruit - great two for one value!
We didn't do sleepers for the raised beds (and now I heard on the radio they need to be lined if you are going to use them due to the chemicals used to treat them) anyway we reused (FREE) wood from the shed - I picked up charity 'horse poo' at 50p a bag, and filled up the bed half way with manure to rot down well over the winter - next job on that is to put in top soil (I'll ask on freecycle and go to our local tip where they make compost which you can get for free - all good.

The 'outdoor' vegetable garden........for the hardier veggies - a bit of a mix-match of wood - works though!
There you are then, alot of digging, moving of stones and wood, a lot chicken netting, alot of nails used - alot of wind break (I've only got 1/3 way round) and alot of cuttings planted. A bit of planting this year - but to be honest not very much (a handful of daisies and about 20 shrubs) - the most of the work has been trying to figure out how to get a bit of shetler in the garden and how to divide it up - the garden goes right around the house - all lawn - well it was!

Total cost this year of the outdoor garden - a bit ouch - £274.99
1 small tub round up £10 - for the hedge and the veggie patch
2 rolls chicken wire £120 (4/5 one left)
1 roll wind netting £54 (need another roll
30 shrubs to create a bit of structure (fushia, ribes, rosa and lonicera) £90 [I'll propagate these next year and make at least that much back in small plants]
Daisy seeds 99p

Total free stuff - hooray
1 hen house recycled wooden cheese/meat store
1000 hedge cuttings - need about 1000 more this year!
Lots landscaping materials (wood, fencing posts, pallets, rocks, stones etc)
Billion nails
20 bags soil from freecycle
18 bags of horse muck and now chicken poop on tap (thank you girls!)
alot of free plants by post (Thank you GV, Aunty C and various other kind souls who've sent me plants or seeds in the post its always appreciated!)
18 'free' raspberry plants from tesco clubcard vouchers

I haven't made any money from the garden this year - so that cost this year is something I'll have to wear - well we've made a bit of money from the eggs but that doesn't count as that pays for the girls food. Anyway - sorry for the boring post today - I wanted to catch the 'outdoor' garden where it was at the end of this year. And, I'm so looking forward to next year (polytunnel, veggies, more hedges and a few more excuses to dig up the lawn. The key thing has to be to get *some* shelter in here - otherwise anything I'll plant will die - and that would really break my heart - all the effort we put into growing things, its hardly fair to toss them out into the wind to die. That would make me a bad plant person indeed, so shelter first, then maybe I can tempt *something* apart from hedges to grow!

I'll have to do a round up of the indoor growing I've done this year - to remind myself what worked and what didn't and what you CAN grow on your windowsill if you're gardens not quite ready for plants yet.


  1. looking good :) and definately not boring to anyone trying to grow stuff.
    If you think of anything exciting to do with one of those obelisks I'm all ears I have one in the shed and not a clue what to do with it really.I loved your bird feeder but we have the wind here too so it might not be a good idea :)

    I wouldn't know where to start with that amount of space, bad enough trying to decide what we are doing with this smallish garden here.Looking forward to seeing wht you achieve this year.

  2. Dreamer have a think about the bird feeder it worked brilliantly (got the idea from google) - Mine only broke due to a force 9 which did for it - I think probably where you are you'd probably be a bit luckier - it had a pot drip tray tied in the bottom with a hole it it to let the water out and I got a lot of feeding things etc on the frame - birdie did like it. Think about it - might work for you - even concrete the bottom in (I didn't)

    Otherwise - runner beans, peas, or blackberries trained into one look great and are productive.........or gourds?

    Thank you its a big space around the entire detached house with not much in - a bit daunting and all grass.

    I'm looking forward to the next year too!

  3. What posts you will have once everything starts growing in late spring. What a view!!

  4. We have a couple of the pole type feeders which forever need straightening up so concreting the poles might work for them too, had already suggested to Ian doing it with the bird table after it blew over again the other night and lost it's roof.Lots of birdies about here so might give it a go with the obelisk too :)

  5. This is SO not a boring post, its my favourite kind! I am so impressed by what you have done Fay. I love the willow windbreak, though given your special interest I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at you using it! I'd never thought of using porridge to mark beds, I am going to steal that idea as sand tends to get lost and hoses always kink in exactly the wrong place. Problematic if someone else is helping dig out the grass - which I agree, is a waste of good growing space!

    I loved seeing your garden "in toto". With the addition of the polytunnel I'm sure you will soon be even more productive and will cover the costs easily. Great job!

  6. Thank you Janet - with the oats I looked in the cupboard and thought OK which one of these will be the cheapest and bird friendly treat afterwards.

    I'm really looking forward to it - when thesis is out of the way I can really get on with being out there - I love being in the garden and if I can get a regular bit of an income - then I'll be able to be there as much as I can.

    *Flower power*

    Unfortunately the man who cleared the track today also took up half the fruit bed and the rhubarb. Oh well, won't be that hard to fix and thank goodness it wasn't planted up.