" My garden is a wonderful plot of land with many different plants and scents, small animals and a pond. The garden is especially impressive when it starts to get
warmer and the roses bloom, the lilacs release their fragrance and the berries ripen.
That's when I like to spend every free minute in my wonderful garden ... "
Well, that's what this website's providers had offered as "sample text" for a Garden section!!
(NOTE: What follows was written while we were living at Aldwick ... but is left in place after our move to Norfolk !) Our Norfolk REAR garden is very
different but is still a precious place for some different reasons. It also feels, at present, very different because it faces neither SOUTH (as in West Sussex) nor NORTH as
ours did in North Devon). It faces WEST and the Sun seems to be in the "wrong" place ... at least it will until we get used to being on the EAST Coast !
Reality may be a little different - but I love having a garden for all the usual reasons. It is a space to create the kind of setting where one (Joy in particular) can be in the lovely fresh air we enjoy beside the sea, relaxing with a glass of something on the trusty old Swing-seat as the sun goes down, softly illuminated by a couple of dozen small wicker globes that are a very soothing string of gentle lights ...
This particular garden is somewhere to do that, surrounded by the several sections of planting such as a very small woodland-like area with Acacia (Mimosa), Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa), a healthy Palm tree, several Mahonias whose berries are so beloved of Blackbirds, a few shrubs in contrasting colours, a Pittosporum, a blue-grey Conifer resembling a Christmas tree. Under the canopy of the trees and shrubs - and round the edges - Joy has planted a variety of Ferns, Foxgloves, Pulmonaria, Irises, small Daffodils, Cowslips and Astilbes.
Unfortunately we lost one of my favourite plants - a Dianella Caerulea or Blue Flax Lily - with its stunning iridescent blue-purple berries. Along with all the other students, I was given a small clump of it by the lady tutor on a Horticulture Class I attended at Barnstaple a few years ago. I am hoping to find another Dianella soon - now that I know a bit more about the conditions it likes!
As well as the mini-woodland corner we DO have a small pond whose water gives that soothing background sound as it tumbles back down from the filter-system with an aerating splash!
The pond is really far too small for the population produced by its first inhabitants - a few 6" to 8" fish - another generous gift we received through Freecycle (please see Freecycle on another page). Frogs and toads return to spawn here each year and we like to think that the tadpoles-froglets-frogs or toads are happily helping us keep a healthy balance by eating and enjoying some of the less welcome bugs they find.
Surrounding the pond is a collection of very attractive, well-aged large rocks (up to 2 feet long in some cases) that were ANOTHER gift from Freecycling! Between, among and over the rocks Joy is growing some Alpines and other plants that love those conditions.
In the pond itself are some Bullrushes and other reeds - another Freecycling item. I try each year to give them away by advertising in Freecycle - but they've been one of the least successful "offers" !
The garden behind our house is triangular, narrowing to a point at the end farthest from the house. In the "pointed area", itself a triangle of course, is a paved area probably used by previous owners as a patio / barbecue spot. There was another palm-like tree growing there - but Freecycle (what would we do without it ?) enabled us to find it a new home and the prospective new owners spent a morning here working with us. Together we dug it out and carefully transferred it to their trailer parked on the road, and they drove it to its new home on a private gated estate at Middleton-on-Sea, between here and Littlehampton.
We've been nosey enough to check on it several times since it left us - and it looks as happy as a pig in a bag of manure !!
In its place right now are some genuine ex-railway sleepers, awaiting our decision on where we shall create a small vegetable-growing area. Sharing the former patio with them are several other items yet to be planted, including a very healthy Horse Chestnut tree (yes, from Freecycle four years ago) which we are deliberately keeping down to a manageable height (about 8-10ft) by annual pruning. It is
in a tub but will be planted if we can ever agree where it will be allowed to go!
Joy's greatest fear is that it could get out of hand and be as much of a nuisance as the very large Eucalyptus that we removed before it could do damage to the foundations of our house and our nearest neighbour's. Joy's biggest worry was its habit of dropping those large leathery leaves into the garden regardless of the time of year. Its wood, we learned just in time, is absolutely NOT for burning in our log-burner stove. Apparently the oil-content of the wood is not only flammable but EXPLOSIVE if heated. We understand this is the reason for forest fires in Australia spreading so rapidly; the oil in a burning Eucalyptus causes an explosion that shoots fire into the next tree, which burns, explodes and so on ...
Already in the ground (and No! not from Freecycle) is our little WALNUT tree which like the conker tree is being kept to a height the won't rob us of sunlight. To do this we transferred it from its Garden Centre container into a large, circular, heavy rubber water tank that had been the cold water tank for our old Warm-Air Central Heating system. It became redundant in the new Condensing-Combi-Boiler system with radiators. Removing the tank and all of its in-and-out-flow pipes from the loft not only gave us a massive amount of extra storage space, it became a ready-to-use Walnut Tree planter; it is buried to its full depth with drain holes drilled in its base - and we hope it will 'Bonsai' the Walnut tree while allowing it to produce a few nuts each year.
I was fascinated to see thriving Walnut forests in North Somerset when we were interested in taking a lease of a National Trust property in Allerford. Ever since then we've wondered if we could grow one successfully! We'll see.
On the side of the garden opposite the mini-woodland our boundary fence is covered by varieties of Clematis, Hydrangea Petularis (the pretty white-flowered climber with lime-green foliage), Passiflora (such a treat to see in flower throughout the dark cool winter months) and Wisteria.
Joy is less keen than I am on growing fruit - but we have a small number of Apple Trees of the "patio" persuasion as their size can be controlled without inhibiting productivity!
Waiting to be planted (April 2012) are a Clematis Amandii, that evergreen, sweetly-scented, white-flowered climber, plus another Wisteria, a very strong variety of Thornless Blackberry, a Blueberry, a Rosemary, some Rhubarb and several other items.
We have a very successful LEMON Tree which spent the winter in the (unheated) Conservatory ... and an Olive tree in a tub. The latter has not been weighed down with Olives so far - but we remain hopeful!
It is a reminder of our one-and-only real Overseas Holiday! ... speaking of which ...
We spent a wonderful week in Crete (Vamos) in a newly refurbished and modernised cottage on the edge of Vamos. Our holiday was meticulously arranged by Simpson Travel ( www.simpsontravel.co.uk ) and we saw for the first time acre after acre of Olive groves everywhere we went! We just had to have one olive tree to remind us. But ... back to our Garden !!
A selection of herbs is growing in pots, tubs and a galvanised bath !
We love to see butterflies and I, more than Joy, love to have one or two Buddleias to attract them. We have a couple at present.
Bees and ladybirds ... we've heard several times that some of these creatures are finding life harder these days so we made somewhere for them to nest or shelter - but they're so inaccessible that I can't say whether they get used ! They consist of thick bamboo canes, cut to a few inches in length and bundled together with string or wire, with the centre of the bamboo drilled out in various diameters to provide homes or nesting places. The bundles are placed where we hope the insects will find them.
Our single nesting box, fixed to the Palm tree trunk about 10 feet above ground, has been used by Blue Tits (or similar!) that have bred and fled numerous times since we arrived here.
A particular delight on a Summer morning is the beautiful birdsong we hear from our own garden and the trees in neighbouring gardens. The most impressive song, or at least the one I find most surprising, is produced by the Wren ... such a BIG voice for such a small pair of lungs !
If I write much more I'll never have time to enjoy the garden !! While I go off to contemplate a spot of double-digging and a couple of hours of weeding, here are just a few of the results of Joy's hard work !
Here are a few flowers from our garden - July 2007