Phase One – Now What?

With the garden divided, the question was indeed, now what?  What exactly were we going to do and what did we want from the garden.

We had agreed on the basics, an area that would be dog-free and an area that would be for us to chill and entertain in without fear of stepping in anything left for us by the two hounds.

There was still a lot of rubbish left dumped by the previous owners.  A massive pile of rubble about 2m x 4m at the back end of the garden, the rusted incinerator in the middle of the lawn which was on a paving slab (another bloody paving slab) and killed the grass beneath it.

Not only that, we now had a massive amount of old turf that we didn’t know what to do.

The rubble was going to be a nightmare to move, and now we had a dead area of lawn too.

A plan was formed!

magdelen green garden 9 april 16

We simply dug a whole in the lawn and planted a Flamingo Salix.  Well, it fixed the problem of the dead grass, admitted it looked slightly random, but it still looked better than the brown square of lawn.

Now, what to do with that bloody rubble heap.  The answer came quite quick.  We were going to be doing a lot more digging up of turf to make room for flower beds.  We would flatten the rubble as best as possible and build it up with the turf to form a large rockery area.

we must have spent a fortune with Wickes – they became our best friends delivering 10-12 bags of compost and top soil to our house almost every week for the next few months.  We’re still utilising all the pallettes the deliveries came on.

magdelen green garden 11 april 16And so our rockery was born and the pile of rubble disappeared.  It was a simple fix to what we thought was a massive problem.   We do have the occasional problem with some grass finding it’s way through, but the plants have really established over the past year and now it’s a case of controlling them more than the grass.

Now, all of this happened in April of last year, so at this point we were just in to our second month of making changes.  You’ll see the little wooden fence in the picture above, that was a new thing which we used to help section off the third part of the garden.  That part we will get to in a different blog.

So far in April, as you can see we had dug a round hole in the first lawn and planted a tree, and then buried the rubble to create a rockery.

If that weren’t enough to be getting on with, I also decided now was the time to put in a pond.  We wanted to bring in nature to the garden, what better way then with a small pond.  Hahahahaha.  Oh, the joy this brought me.

First, more turf removed.  Secondly, a vast amount of digging and shaping, and more digging to put a bloody great hole in the ground and create a flower bed around it that would be suitable for planting.

I decided to do it properly and not cheat, so I ordered myself an expensive square of pond liner to do the job.  It took me two whole Saturdays to do the digging, remove the stones and roots , cover it with sand to give a softer smooth surface, put down the underlay for protection and then install and fill the liner itself.   It looked lovely.  Small, but lovely.  I filled and dressed it on the second weekend, put a few small plants in and around it and went back inside, happy with what was achieved.

magdelen green garden 10 april 16

The sleepers were left behind by the previous owners so made edging for it.  I had made a proper boggy area at one end and lined it properly like you were supposed to.  The pond was something special for me for two reasons, 1. it was a place to home my dad’s lily from his pond.  I’d kept in a large tub after he passed away and was desperate to get it in to a proper pond, now I had.  Secondly, the two large grey slates you can see towards the back were hugely significant.  Just a few days before mum passed away she asked me to go shopping and buy some presents to give to certain people.  She was very specific on what she wanted me to get – for the grandchildren and myself it was a St Christopher each, for her sister a piece of jewellery and for dad, a new watch engraved with a message from her on the back and a water feature that he could put on his pond to always remember her by.

Well, those two slates were the water feature.  The larger one was drilled through from top to bottom so you could put the hose up it and let the water come up and trickle gently down both slates.  This feature sat just outside their conservatory in a little pool that dad built especially to put these on.  It meant he could sit in his chair and watch it and think of her.   This pond was always about more than just putting in a pond to me, it wasn’t all just about the bees and the dragonflys and frogs and newts, it was also about having my own little place to remember both of my parents.  I’m a sentimental old fool I know, but it was nice to know I had now created a home for these items.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I came out the next day found the pond completely empty.  No water at all.

To cut a long story short it turned out there was a hole under the seam of the liner.  A tiny, teeny ridiculously hard to find hole.  And that hole happened to be placed right at the bottom of the pond.  The pond as you see it above had to be abandoned.  A week later I was out buying a pre-formed pond to fill the hole.

It was tiny, and disappointing, but it did the job.  For now at least…

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