The garden is evolving at a faster rate than the house. What with the rebuilding of the wall and the removal of the ivy bed by the gin terrace. We have also started to create the vegetable plot. With the house an island in a sea of gravel, I have been trying to work out ways of utilising the gravelled areas in order to save us from having to dig them up and then having to think what to do with the piles of unwanted, tiny stones. Therefore, the easiest thing of all seemed to be to create a vegetable garden made up of raised beds. These could be placed on the gravel. But, double result, this would also make it easier for my mum to plant and tend those plants.
We ordered our first raised bed. Naturally, it arrived flat packed. Which meant that it sat in the back garden awaiting the return of our resident Mr Fix-It. It took a morning to assemble, a solid structure with heavy planking, hefty bolts and thick caps for the strutts at each corner.
|Never Read the Instructions...|
We bought the 6'x4' version. And then we had to fill it. It would take bags and bags of compost so we started with the twenty bin liners full of leaves that we had gathered in the autumn. Then two bags of manure followed by four of compost. It still isn't full to the brim and we will have to add more compost as the leaves decompose and the level falls still further.
|Veggies Waiting to be Planted|
Then we planted the vegetables that we had bought: beetroot, brussels, cabbage, onions, swiss chard and artichokes. Far too much for a 6'x4' raised bed but the plan is to buy at least three more, laying them in a square, criss crossed with gravel paths.
Within a couple of days, the pigeons had stripped the brassicas to sorry stalks but had thankfully rejected the other morsels on display. We have replaced them and covered the bed with mesh. It's obviously a good excuse to buy the lovely domed protective netting that Harrod's Horticultural (any discount gratefully received!) sell to go with their raised beds.
|Tending the Veg|
We have now surrounded the bed with tomato plants and herbs: lavender, rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, oregano, mint, fennel, parsley and chives.
The bed sits beside the 'orchard', in reality a small triangle of weedy grass. The only fruit tree that it hosted previously was an aged damson that was covered with ivy, needless to say. This has now removed. The damson hangs over the garden wall, its purple droppings deposited on the pavement as the damsons ripen and fall. We are hoping that now it is free from its dark smothering of life-quenching ivy it will bloom towards the garden and that in future years we will enjoy sharp damsons sitting in their deep purple juice, topped with buttery sweet crumble and perhaps a splash of cream to lighten the purple in patches. But our friend, C1, thinks the tree might have had its day. So we may have to fell yet another tree and replace it with a younger, fresher and more fecund version. (However, hidden by the fir tree and almost submerged by the elder and lilac is a small tree that I am watching closely. It may be son of damson.)
The damson has now been joined by another tree that may or may not be a cherry or a plum - my mum is a bit vague. There is also a plum donated by a lovely lady at mum's choir, called the Warwickshire Drooper, which was delivered to us on 5th May. The original tree was bought by the choir lady's great grandmother in 1809 and has been grown true to type from suckers.
Recently and courtesy of some tokens given by B and C2 for our first wedding day in April, we have planted three apple trees: a Bramley, a Herefordshire Russet and a Court Pendu Plat. The last is an old dessert variety, introduced by the Romans pre-1600 (according to the details on the plant - but then the Romans would be pre-1600, wouldn't they?) with a rich pineapple flavour, we are promised. Its blossom was copious and we hope its fruit will follow suit.
|From Back to Front: Plum/Cherry, Warks Drooper and Russet|
|Court Pendu Plat - and Dock Leaves!|
|Bramley in the Shade|
In a corner of the orchard is a small flower bed filled with marguerites. They were just coming into bloom when Agent Orange bought his new strimmer from eBay and decided to try it out by cutting the grass in the orchard. He has trouble discerning flowers from weeds. Well, they say the Chelsea chop is a good thing and this was around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show so we wait to see if the daisies will replenish.
And, finally, some other pictures of the garden.
|Parrot Tulips on the Table|
|Tulip Tubs by Cuffer's Lobby|