Tuesday, 29 April 2014

join me on a wander through our back garden

We have two gardens, front and back. The front garden is what I lovingly call a wildflower meadow but really is both wild and domestic. At the moment it is covered in bluebells. Beautiful. There are also three fruit trees: pear, apple and plum.

The back garden is much larger. The photo below shows my view from the kitchen sink. The building to the right is our garage. This is Richard's hideaway when I am in a bad mood. To the right would be a lawn with climbing frame, bordered by redcurrant and blueberry bushes


I spent a great deal of time in the garden this Spring, partly because I have more time but mostly because I feel inspired by Leanne over at Today's Stuff and CJ over at Above the River. I am not a natural gardener and up to this year, a trip to the garden centre and a flurry of activity lasting a day and a half was followed by a long summer of neglect. I like flowers and I have tried to establish mostly perennial flowering plants because I am lazy. I never really thought about our soil or the wind and sun exposure in various parts of the garden. It is no wonder then that most of my choice plants failed to thrive! There were a few robust ones that continue to hang on.


This year, I decided to renew my efforts a bit less haphazardly. I prodded the soil to see what it looks and feels like under the weeds. I observed the sun as it moved over the garden. I paid attention to the wind. There are some very exposed sides in this garden of mine. Then I dusted my Royal Horticultural Society plant guide and methodically worked my way through it, sticking pieces of paper between relevant pages (not trusting my memory). My selection would require a garden the size of Kew Gardens but I narrowed the selection down by checking the list in the back of the book to see what would thrive where.


Then I tackled my two flower beds. Last year I did absolutely nothing and all was overgrown by a very vigorous buttercup variety that spread at the speed of light and probably replaced all my existing plants. I noticed that it was already emerging fast and spreading some more back in March and I declared a full on war on the plant. It is quite pretty but I really wanted a bit of variety this year. I spent a day pulling all the emerging buttercups up and I continue do to so once a week. It is persistent but I am, too. With space to breathe, some of the old perennials have been making an appearance. I also did a good amount of digging and working in compost from Richards pile, wondering where our compost went before I took an interest in the garden.

Thus prepared I ventured out to visit our little local garden centre, hidden away down a wee lane behind supermarket. It is a funny place, half of the shop premise is full of dog paraphernalia: baskets, toys, food and whatever else a dog might need for comfortable survival. The other half and all the outside is dedicated to plants. The shop is staffed by two guys who are both knowledgeable and helpful. They have a plant stock that is suitable for the West of Scotland climate, which is useful. The selection is good but not so overwhelming that choice becomes impossible. We chatted about my garden and some of my plans were shelved, others made. I was told by the fatherly shop keeper, who called me hen (as shop keepers often do in these parts of the world) that some of my plant choices were not suitable for our climate and I was given alternative suggestions. I came home with a small selection of flowering plants, which I gradually planted over the past few weeks. Some will only be flowering next year but that's ok.


I also sewed a selection of annual flower seeds in various trays and pots, and I planted a bag full of ranunculus claws. I have no idea what these might be called but they do look like claws. To my amazement, everything germinated, leaving me with dozens of seedlings. I spent a few weeks thinning them out and yesterday I transplanted a selection into little peat pots. This is so so exiting! I moved the ranunculus babies outside and most of the 15 little plants are now in the borders around the garden. Some don't look too good but others seem ok.

The snails and slugs probably think they are in paradise with all those fresh and tender plants around. I have no mercy.

I am really delighted with my progress and I am even more delighted that I haven't given up yet. I spent the evening pottering around the garden last night and enjoyed it. It is an all new sensation and I hope it lasts until at least the summer holidays.

In the meantime, thank you so much for visiting and leaving lovely comments. I am happy about every single one and try to respond in the comment section, assuming that you will see my replies. I hope you do! Have a lovely day tomorrow. Cx

24 comments:

  1. Thank you for this tour through your garden. It looks very nice. I'm like you, learning and trying new things, but not pressuring myself. I'm fortunate because the previous owners of my home did all the really hard landscaping and planning work for us, and now we just have to maintain and add as we like. I'm about to buy some annuals this week; I'm limiting myself to just a few to be planted in a half-barrel planter in the backyard in partial shade because I've killed too many in the past when I was overzealous/overconfident. :)

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    1. Our landscaping was luckily done by the previous owners as well. Our neighbours have a steep grassy hill that is useful for nothing except rolling down it. Which is fun but not all the time. I have a feeling that one of the walls in our garden will collapse in a few years time and then there will be some major work but until then I am just enjoying and learning slowly.

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  2. Hey Christina,
    Aaah the gardening bug. I love the different levels of your garden, with their different uses. Marc hides in his shed when I am stomping around the house too. I feel very chuffed that my rambling has given you pause for thought. I also find CJ and her allotment inspiring.
    All you need now is a couple of chickens to feed the slugs and snails too...
    Leanne xx

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    1. Chickens sound great but I am not sure if Richard or the cats would agree. There has to be a shed in every man's life!

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  3. I'm so happy you're enjoying your garden Christina, it's a very addictive thing! I'm really impressed with how organised and sensible you've been with your plant choices. I tend to get seduced by a pretty leaf and end up with unsuitable things. Thank you for the mention, and I'm glad you enjoy Leanne's posts too, I love reading her Fledgling Garden series immensely. I shall look forward to seeing how your plants do, I really hope the grow well for you. CJ xx

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    1. It is my obsessive personality that makes me organised. It is sometimes a blessing but mostly holds me back. My plan (you see, I am just proving myself!) is to become more relaxed this year :-) I have planted and killed many pretty leaves over the past few years.

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  4. My brother-in-law sells plants and each year customers ask for plants they've seen in magazines, but no matter how much he tells them they aren't suitable for the climate in that part of the country, they're determined to have them and then they return the next year to tell him they aren't thriving so they want something else (also unsuitable!). So, good for you listening to advice. I'm sure your garden will look wonderful when they all grow. With experience, I've learnt to grow only plants that like the conditions here and need minimal looking after.

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    1. The little garden centre is great, they even let the little creatures play around and don't mind them asking a million questions. About dogs not plants that is. I decided to stay away from the big retailers, I have not once found a helpful person (if anyone is to be found at all) and have wasted far too much money on pretty plants that might do ok elsewhere in the past. The gentleman in the little garden centre calls his big competitors gift shops that sells plants which is probably not far from the truth.

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  5. What an inspiration you are... this is exactly what I should be doing with our garden. We do have a lot of big established shrubs that give some structure and hide all the weeds but virtually no colour or flowers. I feel I'm too late for this year!

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    1. Thank you Gina, I never thought of myself as inspirational. I feel like I have been showing off (or at least hiding half the truth) because the front garden is a complete mess, we don't even have many shrubs to hide the weeds. We audaciously call the abundance of weeds wildflower meadow....

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  6. Hi, thanks for having a wander round my garden.. thought I'd return the favour! I am a lazy gardener too, but not from choice these days, so lots of the plants are perennials, shrubs, grasses and so on, and I just fill in gaps with anything that takes my fancy. I go to a lovely nursery less than half an hour away, set in the walled gardens of a country house which belongs to Sir Anthony Gormley. The plants, the gardens, are wonderful, and although I try to be strict, sometimes I stray... and buy a plant that wasn't on my wish list, but which will grow here. The staff are small in number but big on knowledge and friendliness. Then of course, I have to find a spot for it!

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    1. It is nice to be near a lovely garden centre with knowledge and friendliness. You just reminded me of another little garden centre in the country park nearby, also in the walled gardens. Thanks for visiting Edwina.

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  7. You have been bitten by the gardening bug. You have all the clinical signs - declaring war on weeds and having a "want to plant" wish list that would take several acres to actually put in. :-) I'm so glad you were able to get advice from a local garden centre that understands your microclimate. That is a key to success. I have gardened for quite awhile, but am finding things to be very different where we now live. The local garden centre was incredibly helpful and saved me from making a few expensive mistakes. Enjoy flexing your newly discovered green thumb! :-)

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    1. You are so right Kristie, I have been checking for weeds every day. A clear sign of obsession! I am going camping this weekend and will probably need to be restrained so I don't weed the tent pitch :-)

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  8. How lovely to have a local garden centre who are full of helpful guidance. You have some beautiful colour from your new plants and I can read in your words that you're proud of what you have achieved so far. I'm not sure how far I will get this year with my garden as the landscaping is still not quite finished here, I have started a few seeds though and I have some new pots to fill. It is quite difficult for me to visit a garden centre as it is a few miles away and we don't have a car. When we do go we have to be sure to buy everything in one trip and then get a rather expensive taxi to bring it all home. The alternative is to buy online of course, which I have not done yet for this year .... maybe next year, I am aiming for basic accomplishment this year from unusable garden to somewhere to sit and drink a glass of wine or two on a summers evening :-)

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    1. I think it is a great aim to go from unusable to somewhere to sit and drink a glass of wine! I have never ordered online because I worry that I might not be here when the plants are delivered and then they might wither and die. Maybe you could find a driving friend for your next visit to the garden centre? I sometimes go with my friend and we enjoy a bit of a chat in between shopping. x

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  9. Gosh I'm impressed - what a lot of planting. My gardening this year has been much less exciting mostly clearing weeds and tidying but I too went to the garden centre this week and purchased some patio tomato plants and some parsley. Hope we get the weather this year for them. Beautiful photographs - so clear!f

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    1. I wish we could have tomatoes! They just don't ripen up here without a green house. I had some plants in the sunny porch once but they were infested with aphids that got into all our coats....

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  10. Wow you are doing well, it's going to look wonderful. I love the terraced steps, it adds lots of interest, ours is very square and flat! I'm such a hopeless gardener - not sure I dare share my patch of weeds! I must admit I do feel inspired when I read of CJ's allotment - I recently started to gig over a patch after reading her posts - nothing planted in it yet!

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    1. I bet the square and flat worked well when the boys were little and kicked a ball around. Mine can't really do that unfortunately. I'll share my front garden with you sometimes, now that's a patch of weeds. We call it wildflower garden. I'll leave the veggies to my husband this year or stick to the shop bought ones...

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  11. What a pretty garden you have made in your backyard. It's easy to lose track of time when you are out there enjoying yourself isn't it :)

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    1. You are so right, the time seems to slow down when I am pottering around in the garden. This is quite a new experience for me and I like it very much. Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. You're garden looks great already - especially with the different levels. You seem to have plenty of spring flowers and i look forward to seeing photos of those you've planted as they bloom.
    I too have started to get into gardening but am adopting a low maintenance approach using lots of pots and gravel.

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  13. This is great! I am excited for you. Like you, I often plant something just because I really like it, without any thought for where it might go, so I applaud your practical, well thought out approach. I bought some cut ranunculus a few weeks ago from the supermarket - they last for a fortnight and were such a delight to look at. I look forward to seeing how your garden thrives this spring. x

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx