our muddy patch

Shot of a swinging Zeph taken by me standing on the bindweed hump at the end of the garden looking down at a Pa Larkin style junkyard paradise if I ever saw one. Now, this is quite brave of me because I do love a browse through  the garden style blogs. And they all are either very beautiful or deeply productive and even squinting, these pictures don’t look like that. It is the most unforgiving season, my garden is at its most lovely in the blowsy overgrown summer when the harsh lines of play apparatus are softened by climbers and even the bindweed  makes the place look green and lush.

However in the spirit of full disclosure and to combat my natural urge for the aforementioned aspirational self editing:

This is the pile of buddleia I hacked off the tree in December – looking back I think I must have been slightly unbalanced and was driven out into a glowering grey day by all the usual festive pressure to try to exhaust myself with some sawing and tree wrestling. I love the old buddleia but want it to be a bit more shrubby than huge gnarly tree. All this effort left me with an enormous branch pile that I have been sighing at.

In fly lady style I’ve decided to just fill my green bin fortnightly until the logpile corner has been reduced to its usual size. This is the corner behind the compostbin  that gets left for nettles and bindweed to do its own thing. I disturbed a couple of mice and two frogs/toads during my labours today so it’s clearly wildlife rich. I also had to shake all the hibernating ladybirds back onto it from the clippings being shoved into the bin. Poor ladybirds, so rudely disturbed.

This is what needs filling..

In front of the compost bin are our toad abodes. Just two flowerpots half sunk into the earth. The snail shells you can see are the cast-offs from the three enormous toads who were to be found here reliably under the hollyhocks all last summer. I have plenty of snails for them.

Ah my lovely compost – whoop whoop. I am a rubbish, fair weather composter. I know, I am ashamed of this but still even doing it a bit half cocked still gets you good compost. This winter all our food scraps have been going into the food waste bin. Partly we are daunted by the sea of mud to be negotiated to get down to the compost bin, more of this later.

These are my hazel trees and the beginning of my hedgerow bit – they’re grown from seed and cuttings and I’m very pleased they have survived the bindweed surge of late summer. Now they’re big enough to survive most things I think but I’m still planning to lessen the weeds in this corner by growing squashes and pumpkins on the bank in front of them.

I hope this will work. The soil is really rich and I’ve spread some more compost under the weed mat thing (really cheap from Wilkinsons..I used  it really successfully last year having exhausted my supply of old carpet.) The end of the garden gets quite a lot of sun, hopefully having felled most of the tree should help. Must get a saw and saw off the rest of the trunk so the shrub can spring up straight.

This is the eucalyptus tree that was here when we moved in. I suspect it desperately needs topping and the roots snake across the entire garden. It has buckled the paving and concrete in front of the door and contributed to the mud sea and every time it’s windy I fear for the ukrainian church next door but I still love it and the sloughing swooshing sound it adds to our lives. When Zeph was about three he was convinced it would tempt koala bears to our garden and every time we went out we would have to check its branches.

This is the rhubarb Hattie kindly gave us from her mums supply. I’ve been meaning to plant it out for the last, god can it be two?, years. We still get loads of rhubarb from it in the bucket but I think this is the year I’ll release it. Probably onto the weedy bank, surely rhubarb can withstand bindweed?

Brave cheerful bulbs – we are all very cheered by their optimistic green shoots. It seems like such an act of faith burying those dull wizened things in the cold earth on windy autumn days. I think the kids thought I was indulging in one of my manic phases but have been enormously gratified today by seeking out the evidence of our treasure burying last year. Of course we have no idea what we planted. They’ll have been something lovely I know.

This is the pergola my Mum and Dad gave me for my birthday last year, sadly at the foot of it is the previously alluded to mud expanse.

We just don’t have the cash for even a few slabs and there’s a limit to what I can scavenge out of skips with the pushchair… My, lovely, sister-in-law has mentioned she has some spare slabs but the wheels move slowly. I feel optimistic… In the background you can see the tiny bit of mosaic Zeph and I did last summer. We want to  cover the whole wall under the pergola with mosaic but now know how much broken china that is. Luckily I’m woefully clumsy so the stockpile is growing.                         

I just wanted to say – we love our garden. Shabby and muddy and unorganised as it is we love hanging out in it..and getting muddy ourselves…and planting stuff and seeing it grow. Or not. I obsessively watch gardening programmes, read blogs and lust over Alys Fowlers plot or Hidcotes’ knot gardens but you mustn’t let that intimidate you from enjoying what you have or can manage to sustain. Ida doesn’t. That’s my verbena she’s just dug up. Ho hum.


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