Thursday, October 27, 2011

Garden overview - how have I done so far?....Part two...

Hello All,

here I am again with the second part of my overview of the garden and the work completed so far in the 18 months that we have been here.

From part one you will know that I have covered the first six items on my wish list, which was a rough form of objectives for this project for me to aspire to. We covered quite a lot of ground in the last post and I'm hoping that this second group of objectives will be as successful as the first six!

So to remind us again here are the 12 objectives....

  1. Child friendly and interest
  2. Dog and pet friendly
  3. Construct a fish/koi pond
  4. Make safe and modernise the raised patio area
  5. Keep the sense of size and openness of the plot
  6. Create a sense of intimacy and different areas of interest in the garden
  7. Open up the country side to the rear of the garden
  8. Encourage wildlife in the garden
  9. Make it look nice
  10. My desire to use ALL types of plants from cottage garden to tropical jungle type planting!
  11. Use recycled material where possible
  12. Enjoy it!
Part two...

7. Open up the countryside to the rear of the garden.

When I first wrote this objective I don't think that we really realised what a great view we would get by trimming the overgrown trees and Hawthorn hedge at the bottom of the garden. We bought the house as it had a good size garden and access into open countryside which in this case is quite flat moorland.
So was the idea of levelling the hedge and trimming the trees to create three open arches a success?...
Well I think it was and will leave you to decide for yourselves with a picture of our view through the natural arches created last year?...

Below how it looked when we moved in, note this is shot in late winter and despite the oak tree having no leaves we have very limited view!

And two pictures below to show how it looked after our initial work...

I have to say that I am pretty pleased with these results and having sat on the raised deck with a beer on a summers evening it is a roaring success to me, what do you think?

8. Encourage wildlife into the garden

Well I could write ten posts about this as we have been blessed with much more wildlife than we could have ever hoped for. The garden is yet to mature so I can only presume this will get even better as time goes on. I'll keep the words short and post up a few pictures to see how we have done...

A small section of the wildlife area which was largely constructed using recycled branches from the 'trimmed' trees
This area blended in nicely with the wild flower lawn which this year was extremely successful at attracting all sorts of bees, butterflies and other insects..
The small log pile is gradually growing and I hope is home to a variety of insects...
The bird count has reached 36 and we had a welcome return of Sparrows who this summer numbered well over 30 in their newly formed flock!..
And of course countless butterflies and insects...

I'd say the start of a big success and possibly one of the most satisfying parts of the project so far!

9. Make it look nice +
10. My desire to use all types of plants from cottage garden to jungle type planting

I've put these two objective together as they go hand in hand, I hope by using good and varied planting schemes it all pulls together to make the whole garden look nice?....

The top lawn is more 'manicured' than elsewhere however to help early spring bees I allow clover to grow and flower in spring which has been very effective in attracting early bees to the garden. the borders here are a mixture of cottage garden perennials and a few other shrubs and grasses
To full fill my passion for exotic plants I created a raised bed of sleepers to 'echo' the pond design. here I grow bananas, cannas & bamboo amongst others. This year I also added 'hot' colour by using Rudbekias   
The shade garden below sits alongside the lawn and perennial border and is home to a seating area under the branches of a clematis covered tree. Planted here are heucheras, ferns and hellebores.
The area surrounding the old stone bridge and stream bed has recently been planted with a variety of grasses, sedges and irises to help soften the edges and link the more 'formal' planting above to the wild-flower lawn, it will be interesting to see how this develops..
The newly planted grass beds above should run seamlessly into the wild-flower area where this summer we had, Corn Cockle, Corn Marigolds and a variety of Corn Flowers growing amongst other wild flowers who have sowed themselves into this area!

So, does it look nice? I think so but still looking forward to everything maturing and growing in size a bit more! Have I used the variety of plants I wanted? Again I am pleased with this so far but can't wait to add more species as time goes on!

11. Use recycled materials where possible

This was the one I was the most sceptical of but in fact it has worked out much better than I could ever have expected. Once I got into the 'recycling' frame of mind I really got into it and managed to 'blag' all sorts of materials from a variety of 'free' or very cheap sources!

The rocks and stones I used for the feature rockeries and the 'new old stone bridge' all came from 'free to collector' adverts....a bargain!

Branches pruned out of trees and shrubs were recycled into hurdles and other landscaping features

Redundant wheelbarrows have become features and planters have been created from old decking planks including the raised vegetable beds below...

I think a gallant effort has been made to used recycled materials as much as I can but as everyone else we can all do more! I know that a massive percentage of landscaping has been completed purely down to the cost saving from the cheap and free materials I have acquired!

12. Enjoy it!

That's easy, of course I've enjoyed it and I hope you have been enjoying it also!?

So to conclude it's been 18 months of hard but enjoyable graft, I've successfully completed some of the ideas I had before starting out and I have also completed many other things, which have evolved as the work has gone along! I have been so lucky to have this opportunity and have enjoyed every second of it. The wild life which has been encouraged to come and use the garden has given the whole family so much enjoyment and we are looking forward to see what else moves in over the coming months and years! My daughter has her own play area and even her own planting bed, watching her enjoying it whilst learning about the garden, plants and the rich wildlife which we are so fortunate to be able to enjoy here feels me with joy. I think that I can say that so far it is a huge success and my objectives and targets have been reached as far as they can in the limited time that we have been here.

So what next?....

Well there will be plenty more to create as well as the usual 'tweaking' of the projects already done. On the list for this winter so far are:
  • finish decking are behind pond
  • create a small wildlife pond and bog garden
  • construct two sleeper raised beds for more veg space
  • erect some trellis fencing
  • tackle the front garden and repair cobbled drive
  • build my compost boxes
  • and of course...enjoy it!!!
As you can see I still have plenty to do to keep me occupied so I'll see you next time when I'm sure something else will have changed or another project started!




Thursday, October 6, 2011

Garden overview - how have I done so far?....Part one...

Hello All,

Well what a busy summer I've had with several projects finished others started and finished and some just started!
Now that Autumn is here the flowers are fading and the ground and weather will start to get cooler. Things in Higgy's garden do seem much calmer now after a busy and frantic summer! I feel it's the ideal time to reflect on the work completed so far. Now would also be a great time to take another look at my wish list which I included on my very first post to see if I have ticked off some of the things I wanted to achieve in the garden.

So here is the original wish list from my very first post and I suppose my 'plan' for the garden:-

  1. Child friendly and interest
  2. Dog and pet friendly
  3. Construct a fish/koi pond
  4. Make safe and modernise the raised patio area
  5. Keep the sense of size and openness of the plot
  6. Create a sense of intimacy and different areas of interest in the garden
  7. Open up the country side to the rear of the garden
  8. Encourage wildlife in the garden
  9. Make it look nice
  10. My desire to use ALL types of plants from cottage garden to tropical jungle type planting!
  11. Use recycled material where possible
  12. Enjoy it!

So from the top of the list...

Part 1 (1-6)
1.  'Child friendly and interest'
I think that this is a big yes as my 4yr old daughter has enjoyed the garden immensely this year and loves to run around the various paths and play hide & seek. The seating area tucked away underneath the tree covered by a large Clematis Montana in the shade area has become her "house, shop and petrol station!" Last Christmas she asked Santa for a pink wheelbarrow so she could "help daddy in the garden" I absolutely love to see her enjoyment from being outside and enjoying the garden making the whole project worthwhile. If I have to choose a successful part of the garden  just for her then it has to be her new play area...
My daughter's new play area was a resounding success even if rain did spoil her birthday party!

2) Dog and pet friendly
Well my dog is happy to spend time in the garden, next doors cat spends 'too much' time by the bird feeders until the dog see's her! So I would say yes.
Choco dozing on the's a dogs life!

3) Construct a fish/koi pond....
Yes a massive success and the first 'proper' landscaping job I took on. My fish were on holiday at a friends house so speed was very important on this project. The fish soon settled into their new home and the Golden Rudd have successfully bred in their first season which I think is a big thumbs up from them!

My fish bred this summer so seem happy in their new home!

4) Make safe and modernise the raised patio area...
Again one of the first jobs to be completed as the old patio was raised with a three foot drop onto a lower patio, dangerous with a young child running around. I wanted to keep the height as this would eventually offer far reaching views over the garden and across open countryside. A raised deck was decided on to keep materials similar to the pond and for ease of construction...

The raised deck fits in well with the pond and is a perfect viewing platform across open countryside, the addition of balustrade makes it child friendly and safe! 

5) Keep the sense of size and openness of the plot...
A difficult one to judge as the project isn't finished and the dynamics of the garden will change as plants grow this space I think on this one!

6) Create a sense of intimacy and different areas of interest in the garden...
Yes I think that have achieved this and as above this will improve as the garden matures and more work is completed. I have tried to create different areas in the garden like the large perennial borders and then the complete contrast of the wildlife area which is much more rugged. There are various seating areas with some giving a sense of intimacy such as the home made bench in the shade area tucked under a tree and the obviousness of our new swing seat which gives you a view from the bottom of the garden up to the house. These different areas and aspects add interest to the site and hopefully make you want to explore a little more!

Various seating areas give interest and different aspects to enjoy the garden from.
This home made log & sleeper bench in the shade area provides a private hideaway from the hot sun...
The newly installed swing seat is more obvious and gives a view up the full length of the garden towards the house and is open to the hot sunny summer weather!

Different 'themed' areas add interest and make you want to explore some more...

My stone bridge and pebble streams add a little drama to the project and help connect....
The more formal mowed lawns and perennial borders to....
The wild flower lawn and....
The wild life area!

 I think that five out of the first six from the original wish list isn't bad? As the garden matures and more importantly plants and trees grow bigger the whole space will become much more interesting and certain areas will naturally become more private and intimate. With areas still waiting development there is plenty of scope for me to be more creative and add a little drama in certain areas which I hope will be fun watching it develop.

That's about it for this post. The results of my first six wish list items have now been recorded. In my next post I will cover the last six items on the list to see if I have achieved what I originally planned or whether further work is required!....

As always thanks for reading I do hope that you have been enjoying this blog since I started it last year and watching this little part of Somerset evolve as much as I have enjoyed doing it!!?

Please do send me your comments....what do you think of it so far?.....have you got any ideas for my plot?....How could I improve this blog?