My small cheshire garden - part 1


This year I'm going to do a mini series on my garden - or more importantly, on my garden's evolution. 

I have my mother to thank for the gardening bug. As a child, despite growing up in a suburban area, our garden was her labour of love. I lived in that house for eleven years and now, at 31, while I can barely remember the rooms inside, I can remember almost everything about that garden. I remember swishing high into the sky on double swings with my sister, using sticks to knock off figs from the fig tree (sorry Mum!) I remember digging out the huge hole for the new pond that replaced our old garden swings. I remember the old railway sleepers arriving for the veg plot, and painting the pergola with my Dad (and getting paint on the patio furniture!) Oh, and I remember the scary alley down the side of Dad's shed, where broken toys seemed to disappear into, like a graveyard.

When my husband and I moved into our house in 2014, we inherited a very unloved plot. It's not much, so I won't be able to replicate the huge garden I grew up with. But now I have a daughter of my own, my ambition is to give her a garden with the fun space and hiding places I remember so fondly. And maybe when she's grown, she'll have those memories of her Mummy gardening too.

You can read my post from 2014 about how we started shaping up the garden, but this is a snap of what we inherited:

Here is the plan we were working from when we began to shape up the garden:

And on a rainy January morning in 2017, this is where we are at now:
Cat's eye view
Hopefully, you'll be thinking, that's an improvement! And yes, while it is a big change from what we inherited, living with the garden for three years has taught us an awful lot. Significantly, it has taught us what doesn't work, what doesn't grow well, and what just no longer works for how we use our garden. So this is my own Big Dream, Small Spaces challenge - and here's the challenges we face:

Our garden is West-facing, so we get sun in the morning at the end of the garden, slap-bang where the (inherited!) HUGE concrete slab is that now has our shed on. By the evening, the sun is at the back of the house, where the mish-mashed array of patio slabs are. There are two beds along the south fence, one in the back-left corner (Bed A) and another on the left, near the back of the house (Bed B). The third bed (Bed C) is our large herbaceous border, which runs along the North fence, and is pretty much in full sun. 
Bed A
Bed A has a huge issue. This corner of our garden, frankly, stinks of poop! We have been planting highly fragranced plants here, like an ornamental orange blossom and a buddleja, but it has made this corner completely unusable really. Or at least, not one you would want to sit in with a cup of tea, or enjoy gardening in. Our silver birch is from our wedding - we bought four to decorate the village hall we held our reception in, two of which went to my father and father-in-law, one is in our front garden - and this one is now 'Little R's wishing tree'. I do not want to move this, but the bed needs to go.
Bed B

Bed B was intended for grasses and heathers, around an inherited plum tree, but some of the grasses have been a complete failure, so we have had limited success here, and so it's shape and size needs reconsidering.
Bed C - wide shot

Bed C is having more success, but since it borders our path to the shed, we have had a few casualties! Where the border meets the back of the conservatory, the soil is very shallow and gritty, perfect for irises (I have many!) but not great on the whole, so it ends up looking bare for most of the year.
Bed C / herbaceous border
So those are the issues we're having with the beds themselves, but there are other problems that have resulted in me redesigning the garden completely. Firstly, I love the shape of lawn, but it is just not big enough now we have a little girl. Also, while the curving path ties in with the shape of the lawn, it is hardly ever used as it is since it's not the most direct route to the shed (I tend to use the first two slabs, before I cut across the grass.) Also, we have way too much patio for our needs, and despite the huge table you'll spot in the earlier photos, we don't tend to do formal dining outside, as neither my husband or I are sun-seekers and it was hard to manoeuvre that table into the shade. But we do enjoy a cup of tea or a light dinner outside, we just need better seating to be able to do it.

When we redesigned our kitchen, we moved the window and back door, so it now steps straight out onto the garden. I hate that looking from the window or the door your main point of view is the shed. The shed! It also means you can barely see any planting, since the herbaceous border is tucked around the conservatory. And for Little R's first birthday, we bought her her very own wooden Wendy House - something that I want to incorporate into the design, and not just plonk it on in any-old place, since I want to be able to see her in it from the kitchen if I'm inside.

And so with all this in mind, and after endless attempts to redesign the garden using a shaped/circular lawn, I threw the old plan out the window, and started again. But you'll just have to wait until Part Two before you get to see what I've come up with...

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