Sunday, 24 August 2014

A dry garden

Front Garden: Before and After
Well, it’s hard work this smallholding lark but of course, I’d never have it any other way and to be honest it’s pretty damn good fun – except for the vast quantity of poo that I seem to be shovelling on a daily basis. 

Aside from shovelling muck and feeding animals I’ve had little time to garden.  The vegetable garden and greenhouse are starting to produce, with potatoes and salad crops dominating the harvest.  The lawn, well it’s still a lawn, a pretty big expanse of lawn really that’s just itching to be dug up.  I’m reluctant to start doing this right now as with ridiculously free draining soil I fear a warm snap could ruin any young plants I plant or turn any borders I dig in to sand pits.  I’ve not known soil this sandy before and this is probably going to be a huge learning curve for me as my previous gardens and allotment plots have been formed atop beautiful rich Welsh clay.  So very different from the dry but fertile English soil I find my hands in now.

After recently replanting the front garden, the only real gardening I’ve done so far, I soon realised just how much of an issue this sand-like soil is likely to be.  The border is only small and prior to my renovation it housed a couple of old roses, Hemerocallis, and remnants of alpine plants that were clinging on for dear life.  The border sits next to several large conifers on one side that edge the garden next door and exacerbate the dryness issue further.  This, coupled with the hot weather we’ve had in the past few months did not bode well for some of the plants I put in despite the generous addition of compost.  They are starting to perk up now though and by next year we should have a burgeoning bed of beautifulness (try saying that when you're drunk!).

My temporary vegetable garden
The soil will require a lot of nourishment and extra attention; just as well I have more animal dung than I could shake a stick at and a massive compost heap then! Feeding the soil will be a major focus for me going forward.  But where once yellow/cream gravel lay beneath tired geriatric plants, flowering in shades of pink, we now have a young garden.  A mix of herbs, perennials and the odd Rose for good measure flowering in shades of blue, white, orange and gold.  The plan for this part of the garden is for it to be useful and full of scent – something I will probably pull through the remainder of the garden out back once I begin.  Plants need to earn their keep and be fairly drought resistant so we’ll see how they get on but having survived one hot snap I think they should do well here.  Planted so far we have Rosa ‘Kew Gardens’, Jasminum officinale ‘Clotted Cream, Thme, Sage (ornamental and culinary), Rosemarie, Verbena bonariensis, Bronze Fennel, Rudbeckia fulgida, Achillea ‘Terracotta’, Geum Euphorbia amygdaloides, Stipa tenuissima and lots of self-seeding Alchemilla.  I’m looking forward to posting an update on this next year.

Aside from the garden, since I last posted there have been a number of new additions to the smallholding – the ex-battery hens, the chicks (15 in total and growing at a rate of knots), a trio of French Wheaten Marans and two new Cream Legbar Pullets (a birthday present to myself), Gareth the rescue pony and my small flock of Hebridean Sheep.  There’ll be more to come on those.
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