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Sunday, 3 April 2016

Everything in the garden

In my previous post I forecast that this post could be a while in appearing as I now have a garden. So here I am, 3 months later, aching but happily so because it's a result of digging!

I have a 30 x 30 foot square of garden, fenced with wire mesh all round, and with an established hazel tree. I didn't do anything with it for the first 6 months I lived here because I wanted to see if anything else was hiding and would sprout. In that time I sorted out the inside of the flat instead, still got a few boxes of stuff to work through but it's comfortable and coming together now. I got a bird table for my birthday from my daughter, and I've hung some feeders from the hazel tree. The birds happily hoover up all the food I put out for them, and I did the Big Garden Birdwatch a few weeks ago.

The garden last August when I first moved in, complete with neighbour's rabbit!

But the garden kept calling to me. Resistance was futile, mainly because I am a plantaholic and adore gardening. Having been without a garden for the best part of 12 years, I needed a fix and badly. It started with a pair of beech trees. They were only £3 each and I couldn't leave them, had to have them. You know how some women are with shoes, bags or make-up? That's me with armfuls of plants.

The popular thing to do here these days is to put up a wood fence to enclose a garden. That's not particularly good for the wildlife though; birds need hedges and bushes, and hedgehogs need to be able to travel between several gardens to forage. As I already have the wire fence, I have decided to leave it in place and plant a mixed hedge around the 2 external borders. This means digging out a border, so to have more space for plants I am making a curved deep bed that will take up approx 1/4 of the whole garden.

All sounds simple, right? Except whoever lived here before me decided to bury sheets of corrugated asbestos about 6 inches under the turf exactly where my flower bed needs to go. I'm aware how dangerous asbestos can be (which is probably why the morons buried it instead of disposing of it properly), but we had it at home when I was a kid, and it can't stay where it is so I'm taking my chances. It's certainly not dry, and I'm working outside.

I have osteoarthritis and 2 replacement hips, so I can't spend all day digging even though I want to. I'm having to do it in 2-hour slots, early in the mornings at weekends when I'm at my most mobile. I'm sure it would have taken a strapping young man just a day to shift it all, but I don't have one of those handy. Today I lifted the biggest pieces, and I really thought I'd got to the end of them length-wise but nope, there is a bit more under the biggest piece, still buried. There is also more buried towards my neighbour's garden so it looks like at least one more weekend before I can get the council to come and remove it all. One of the most awesome things was uncovered today - a baby slow worm, awake but sleepy, under one of the pieces of asbestos! I carefully picked it up and moved it to the pile of bricks and stones under the hazel tree to keep him safe.

Baby slow worm picture from blog: Everythinginthegardensrosie.com

I've put a Rowan tree in the corner, with shrubs and a holly. 
Honeysuckle and dog rose to climb the fence.

I've designed gardens and wildlife areas before, and I know how this garden wants to be organised. There will be a seat next to the hazel with some ferns and hostas, and a patio area along the neighbour fence (which I will screen with some bamboo screening I've already bought). Along the fence that separates my half from the downstairs' flat's garden I will have a raised veg plot, possibly a small compost heap and an apple tree. I'm putting a gate in the fence nearest the footpath so I don't have to always go though downstairs' garden. Luckily, my half gets sun for most of the day despite being north-facing, and the soil is a dreamy sandy-loam.

I am definitely in my element.