GARDEN: Starting Over, January 2019

Lawn where lawn is not supposed to be

That lawn? That lawn is not supposed to be there. That lawn is supposed to be a flowerbed.

I think it's fair to say that our garden has got away from us a bit. Where there used to be the carefully primped and protected floral display of our predecessors, we have weeds and wilderness.

And not an artful, pretty, Instagrammable, we're-being-good-to-the-bees sort of weeds and wilderness.

Just a mess.


At first, I blamed pregnancy. And then I blamed having a very small child who liked hurling herself down the concrete steps into our neighbours' garden whenever I wasn't looking and who was also quite fond of trampling across the crocuses. 

Then I got pregnant again. And then I had another small child who likes to do the same. 

And, of course, the garden is not just my responsibility but every time Steve was around to dig or sow or trim or mow, it poured with rain.

And so we lost control.

I say that. There are successes hiding in these pictures, underneath the weeds. 

There are the remnants of the first sweet peas I've ever kept alive long enough to flower and there are hibernating hydrangeas which I planted a couple of years ago and there are the straggling skeletons of my beloved nasturtiums, which keep on reseeding themselves with absolutely no input from me.

Trashed greenhouse

There are the wonky raised beds in which Steve and our three year old grew massive pumpkins and jumbo radishes and unloved lettuces, Also, those green plastic circles are slug collars and we would highly recommend them for keeping the slithery pests off your crops without chemicals. 

And our herb garden is doing fairly well. If you like everything to taste of either rosemary or mint. 

Herb garden

But, over all, we felt like we had reached crisis point. That our garden was past salvaging. That we could not conceivably find the time or the energy or, frankly, the motivation to dig out all of those weeds and scrape off all of that moss and hack back all of the monstrous geraniums by ourselves (plus, how do you do that with one small brown bin and no vehicle for dump trips?).

So, at the start of January, we paid a nice fellow - also called Steve - to dig almost everything out of the flowerbeds and to shove the lawn back into its designated rectangle. He even (more or less literally) threw in some paving slabs he had left over from a previous job. Nice fellow, as I said.

And the garden looked more like this:

So neat.
Trimmed lawn

The minimalist in me quite likes all that blank, smooth space, but I appreciate it wouldn't take the weeds long to recolonise it and we don't want to fill it with concrete. Also, half the point of a garden - to me - is to have something bright and pretty to photograph (the other half is the low effort parenting it provides). So I spent quite a bit of time and a little bit of money ordering lots and lots of perennial plants in the January sales. 

I prioritised low maintenance plants which are attractive to pollinators and have, entirely accidentally, ended up with a display which will be completely pink and blue. There's a joke in there about genders and different sorts of nurseries, but my toddler has a cold and I'm far too tired to phrase it well.

Anyway, the plants will be arriving in dribs and drabs between - eh - last week and April. 

So far, I've received two potentillas, one ceanothus and two bare roots erigerons (one of which is sprouting madly). And they're all currently resident on our stairs because suddenly our garden looks like this: 

Thick snow


Impractical for digging, though.

But in one early success: the kids and I put out loads of food for the birds on Friday afternoon and we have spent great chunks of this weekend watching out of the window as blackbirds, wood pigeons (I think - as far as I know, wood pigeons are just the ones which don't look scrawny because of a city centre diet of chips, right?), redwings, robins and one intrepid starling have revelled in the feast.

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