You know sometimes, just sometimes, you look back on something and take stock of what you did. This is one of those things.
April 2017 will go down as the month that broke me. I mean physically broke me. With the first part of the garden looking good, I decided now was the time to move back up the second part of the garden. The large area. I wasn’t happy with it. It needed beds. It needed love. It needed colour. I needed less lawn to mow. It needed a pathway. I needed a large mechanical tool to dig, but instead I carried on with my lawn edger to mark it out and my spade to dig.
My husband had done a grand job of painting all of the fences, gone were the grubby brown panels, a lick of wooden fence paint turned them in to a lovely dark green. We love the green. He now wants to paint them all dark grey – but that’s another story for another time.
We had the Pergola and Pond so far in this area, along with my 13yr old son’s goal and football practice thing. Neither of which he ever used. So, after a short conversation with him, we agreed these could go.
And that’s when the pain started.
I’ll just dig out a 2.2m deep by 9m long area. The sunflower bed from the previous year had looked good, and so I thought it would be a great idea to extend it the length of the garden. It was a good idea, but perhaps not such a good idea for one man to do alone.
There was a lot of digging to do, and mentally it was a tough one. I reached a point where I thought it might look ok to just leave the bed as above and not join it to the other bed. But I had committed to it, and I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t achieve what I had set out to do. It all had to go.
So, I marked it out metre by metre and dug out the turf in each 2 x 1m area at a time. Some of the turf was placed at the back to give some height, the rest was removed completely and added to the ever growing pile at the back of the garden.
It took a whole weekend to get from one end to the other. There wasn’t a part of me that didn’t hurt. That didn’t matter though, it was done.
Over the following weekend, it was built up. More compost, more top soil added. I had to by a rotavator to help me break up the massive lumps of soil. Finally I had a piece of machinery that made life easier. Once broken down, the soil was quite nice and certainly made the planting much easier.
I didn’t have much to start with from a planting point of view. I had been growing four five varieties of sunflower from seed to get ready for the bed. I put in a couple of plants that I already had in pots or in random places in the garden. The White Buddliea, the box hedge, a penstamon and a couple of my favourite grass, Stipa “Ponytail”. I wanted this to be sunflowers and wild flowers. This would be my Bee magnet area in the garden. I ordered some tiny Cystisis from a magazine and they went in. I wanted them for somewhere else at a later date, but they could start their journey here and be moved later when they’re big enough. I also ordered four packs of Bee & Butterfly wild flower seeds, along with a pack of Ladybird Poppy seeds. I wanted native wild flowers to surround the sunflowers as much as possible. It was also cheaper than buying the plants individually. If it worked, it would be an affordable solution and and easy way of adding colour and variation to the garden.
There was still more digging to do, I wanted the bed to go right to the end. But that would have to wait for another weekend. I was too damaged. I also needed to lay path so that wouldn’t become a mud track.
Heavy duty weed controls and blue slate chippings were bought, and bit by bit I worked my way up the garden. Just because of cost we decided to get he weed control down and the chippings we would buy as and when we could afford to in order to complete the path.
This took every available weekend in April to get to this point.
I mourned the loss of my wooden handled shovel – it snapped when I was removing a large clump of Euphorbia with very stubborn roots. The Euphorbia paid in the end, but it was sad moment for me.
April was a very expensive month, this year we were going to try and garden on more of a budget than the previous year. My seedlings were doing well, especially my Cornflowers and Nicotiana’s. I had a few Ravenswing doing ok, some Paper Daisies, Chrysanthamums and the like, but a few disappointments too. Achilleas, Acanthus and 50% of the sunflowers either didn’t germinate at all or died away after the first shoots came appeared. Not one to give up though, I carried on trying. I would spend less this year on plants.
Until I discovered Bardfield Garden Centre!