The blog has been a bit quiet lately, but I promise I have a good excuse - we moved house in the winter! Our new house is so lovely, with a real cottage-y feel but with a handy location in Glasgow. I have never had a garden in my adult life, and it has been an absolute joy to have an outdoor space to call my own. The previous owners however, don't seem to have found much joy in the garden! There were two lawns which are in pretty bad nick, two beds filled with the dreaded leylandii, and everywhere else was either slabbed or gravelled over. Here is the groundwork completed so far to transform it into a lush and verdant oasis in the city!
The first job was to clear a large bed at the bottom of the lawn. There was a layer of bark, then membrane, then gravel, followed by more membrane. This part of the garden is down a steep, narrow set of steps, so everything needed to be removed by hand in a bucket. My arms have never looked so toned! They soil is heavy clay and it was pretty compacted, so I dug through a few bags of manure and forked it all over pretty thoroughly. I'm using this as a fruit bed - I've bought dwarf apple, pear, plum and cherry trees (all self fertile because there's not much room for additional trees), as well as raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, blueberries, gooseberries and honeyberries - roll on the summer! I then mulched around the new plants with the bark that was originally on the bed. Just in case you're in the UK, I bought all the fruit trees and bushes from Marshalls Seeds, they're always good quality plants at a good price. I run the garden in the school I work at as well and Marshalls are really good for selling e.g. 30 packs of seeds at a discount.
The next job was digging terraces into a patch of gravel. I dug in three layers - a bed at the top and the bottom and a gravel area for seating in the middle. This is south facing, so it'll be a lovely spot to sit out in the summer. I cleared out gravel from the top and bottom and leveled off the soil, then dug a couple of trenches and put in willow lawn edging to keep the three levels separate. For the middle seating section, I pushed all the gravel into the middle, dug out soil from the top and moved it down to the bottom of this section, then spread gravel over it and raked it all level. I bought plants for the two beds mainly from Crocus, who have really the most beautiful and unusual flowers. I'm going for a bit of a modern cottage garden theme, with roses, hellebores, astrantia, campanula, hostas and a lovely black elderflower tree. I also put in an arch across from the bottom bed to the fruit bed, with a climbing rose and a winter honeysuckle. Now I just can't wait for it all to start flowering!
I've also put in raised beds for growing veg at the bottom of the garden. I did think about digging up the slabs, but there's no way I could do that myself - I might put some fancy slate between the beds to make it look a bit more classy. I got the raised beds from Yorkshire Timber Products on ebay who were absolutely fantastic for both quality and price. I did a lot of research to try to find a good supplier and would definitely recommend these guys to anyone. You do need to build the beds yourself, but I had literally never used a drill in my life and I managed it fine! I reused some of the membrane from the fruit bed to line them, and then put a load of gravel (also reused from various beds) in the bottom for drainage. I bought veg specific topsoil from topsoilshop.co.uk, and am gradually shovelling my way through four tonnes of soil. We've moved quite far away from the nearest gym, but it seems like that is not going to be a big problem!
This is only part one of hopefully many, and there is still lots to do in the garden. Let me know in the comments if you have had a similar experience transforming your garden, or if you have any tips and advice for me!