The garden is bursting out all over. My Morrisons £5 plum tree is growing almost in front of my eyes, the blue fescue grasses and little orange geums are filling out the raised beds, just as I’d planned, and I’ve grown my first rose (and it has flowered!). It is hard to believe that when we moved in, our courtyard looked like this…
Definitely the ‘before’ shot…
Thinking about this space gave me sleepless nights before we moved in, almost a year ago. It was too small, there was no grass, it was overlooked – what had we done? I don’t deny that I still do wish it was bigger and that we had just one tree and maybe a little lawn, but in other ways, I like the manageable size, and the fact that if I spend an afternoon out there, I can make a huge difference. One of the best things I did was having the slabs cleaned back in January. The algae has gone, and they’re a bright, golden sort of colour. Another wise move was painting all the tired old woodwork. We didn’t want to replace it, as we will hopefully be building an extension some time soon, so it is just a case of extending the life of what is here and making the best of it for now.
My potting bench is one of my favourite places to be. I like to stand here sorting out the plants I’ve grown from seed (zinnias, to the left) and my bedding plants (calibrachoa and mini petunias, to the right). It is so therapeutic. My plastic milk carton has been repurposed as a mini watering can (I’ve just made the switch back to glass milk bottles again).
I have also been busy upcycling. My latest purchases were two old wirework bakery trays, £9 and £13 respectively. I spotted them in my local antiques centre and thought they’d make great plant shelves, using some of the old pine boards that had been pulled out of the bathroom. I was always sorry that had to be done, and we had hung on to some of the wood, just incase we could reuse it. My Dad, who is amazing at DIY, said he could create a shelf to fit inside the trays, and this he did. He also made some hooks, using old copper tubing that was in his tool box. I love the effect of the wire, the wood and the plants.
I will use these shelves for herbs, bedding plants, and just to create displays.
I have some hero plants to share as well. Writing about gardens means that I talk to a lot of excellent gardeners about their favourite plants. I take notes and I squirrel the knowledge away. Erysimum is often mentioned. These are perennials which flower from about March to ….well, endlessly as far as I am concerned. I love the ones which remind me of the colours of old fashioned fruit salad chews. Remember those? The ones above are ‘Red Jep.’ But ‘Bowles Mauve’ are also good – and maybe a bit more tasteful.
Another plant beloved of garden designers is a white rose called Madame Alfred Carriere. I planted one behind my shed a couple of months ago and I’ve just had the first flower….it smells very sweet, and I have put it next to some honeysuckle, so I am hoping that I get a wonderful scented jumble there this summer.
I am still very fond of my little shed. It may have been the cheapest, wonkiest shed on the internet, but it makes a great feature. I’ve just added another vintage sign. Some people get tattoos, I acquire vintage signs….
Somebody asked me the other day why I ‘stage’ shots in the garden. Well, I do have a gardening column in a monthly magazine, so it’s part of the job, but I do genuinely enjoy making scenarios and just enjoying and making the most of what I’ve got. There is some sadness in my life at the moment, but when I’m outside primping the garden, potting up plants, it’s my way to switch off. My neighbours certainly seem to like it. Both sets have made a point of saying how much they like seeing the flowers.
My Modern Gardens column…
So, yes, I will carry on ‘staging.’
The next thing we need is a parasol to complete the seating area. It is a little sun trap, and sometimes we do want shade, so hopefully over the Bank Holiday weekend, we can find a parasol with a good solid base.
Now, I’m going to think about curling up on that sofa with a drink and a book….it might well be a date for later this evening.