|Series 2 – Gardening Projects – 2021|
|Project Willow Courtyard|
|These plantings have done exceedingly well for this season …. variagated nasturtiums and osteospermum ‘Purple Suns’ and l will be having more of these next year as they bring so much colour to the garden.|
|Baskets and planters off the ground have performed very well indeed, prompting me into action for next year and making more use of the spare upper wall space l have.|
I don’t know if there is to be a season 2 in this series for Suze’s garden … she hasn’t really been hypefocused on the garden of late – l know she has a lot of other plans … but l guess time will tell, it’s not like l don’t have projects of my own like the Project Willow Courtyard.
I have spent a good part of this week studying courtyard garden layouts and how to make the very best from the space you have available to you. The garden here in Willow is a rectangle shape measuring 45 feet long and enjoying varying widths of between 9 – 10 -12 feet. Basically from the patio doors near to the kitchen the garden narrows down the length and gradually widens towards the bottom.
|Image Left – From the patio doors looking down the full length of the garden.||Image Right – From near to the back [just before the compost area] looking towards the patio doors.|
There are several projects tied in with this garden and they will take me from this time of the year, as in mid summer season to the spring of 2022. By then, l should have the garden of Willow exactly the way l want it and l think it should be.
The projects for the next 10 months or so are ..
|Identify the shape and layout the garden requires that highlights all the features as well as recognising the specific areas and their designated roles. [Display, practical, seated, wildlife and compost]|
|Study and research the plants that will do very well in the garden and the containment they need to be best displayed and grown to.|
|Run down the current season’s growings and replant what is to stay and dispose of what is to go.|
|Take stock of all planters, pots, crocks, boxes and beds.|
Do not utilse any plastic containments only crockery or ceramics..
|Sand down, brush up, repair and renovate and repaint garden bench, garden fixed ornament features [pump] and tables  and chairs  and resite to permanent locations.|
|Purchase and hang new hanging baskets and bird and bat boxes and feeders too.|
|Award the garden an overall professional cut back to define shape.|
I am now getting more to grips with what l want the garden to look like as well as what l want to grow, but this year l suppose as wasted as it was vegetable growing wise it was needed to identify what l didn’t want! That’s the positive from the negative. It has helped me see more clearly as opposed to the blurry lines l was experiencing at the start if the growing season.
The current shape of the garden as ‘edible crop – consists purely of French beans which are now performing remarkably well and so too are the Cape Gooseberry which are are starting to pod up. So l might see a working and harvest ready crop of this small fruit. [Below]
The Cape Gooseberry used to be sited on the other side of the garden against the other wall – but l wanted to make that previous space more of a seated display for the bench and the table and chairs so moved the huge planter across, rearrranged the table top feeder and sited the gooseberry’s there.
Last weekend, l went through all of the plants growing with a determined intention of what wasn’t needed had to go and so l emptied off most of my crockery pots and so now have very few plants actually growing in pots. but these are the pots l want to be using next year and l will simply offload all the wooden and plastic wares. The woodens l can do something with, but the plastic l will have to simply store somewhere and maybe use as growing seedlings only – there is already too much plastic ware hitting the garbage mountains so l need to recycle them in other ways.
I still have the sweet potato growing which l can at least eat, although as to whether that will have an edible crop this year, l don’t know – maybe next season. The Horseradish [below] you can see is now four years of age and produced a crop last year, but that is also now off the menu – but l like this plant l just need to site it somewhere that suits us both. The agapanthus you can see at the front bottom right of the photo above is doing really well, but sadly didn’t produce any flowers this year – despite being a happy plant the growing season is completely out of whack.
I have been toying with some of the features in the garden – some items like the pump in the image below are permanent fixtures and actually attached to the building, but the temporary bbq isn’t mine, but was inventoried to the property so it has to stay and so l decided to include it into the features. The small otter statue is mine … but all of these ‘items’ in the photo need to be worked on and renovated, repaired where required and repainted as well and to make them more visually appealing as well as practical.
I resited the bench yesterday and was able to look at just how much work it would require to make good again and l think with the right equipment, paints and trimmings and weatherproofing polish a couple of good weekends with decent weather would do wonders for it.
I want to create a nice seating area in this middle part of the garden on the patio slabs which would hold the bench, the small table and two of the chairs. I inherited the four chairs with the inventory when l moved in, but the small round table was mine, so l will spend some decent time making all items good again and make this feature look aesthetically pleasing with the features, some ambient lighting and selective plantings of flowers too.
I don’t think l can make the compost area any more attractive as it is very much a working space. I just need to make sure it is productive, tidy and smoothly efficient and not an eyesore or a rodent attractor. I might be able to tweak it some more as in offload some of the black bins, but aside from that l can’t do much more.
One of the main tasks next is somehow tackle the enormity of the left side of the garden and the shrubbery there, they are currently growing like it’s going out of fashion! The trees and shrubs are well over seven feet tall in some cases! It’s great for the birds, but still needs to be taken care of. I am conscious of the breeding season, but luckily my garden here doesn’t hold any breeding pairs. My regular feeders are visitors only and nest in the houses garden’s around me.
All in all, l think the coming months will keep me pretty busy and l am looking forward to being able to get my teeth stuck into some quality home projects .
|Piece by piece and bit by bit …|
|The left side of the garden against the fence is fast becoming a jungle of the overgrown. It starts at the bottom of the garden behind the worm farms and works its way up the fence towards the shed.|
The weather this week has been a little tricky – it has been raining on and off for the last two days, although currently it’s a beautiful evening, but when l was working in the garden earlier this afternoon, l was working in the rain showers. It is in some ways ideal growing weather – it is wet, windy and muggy – but whilst that might be great for growing conditions it’s not always pleasant to work in. But l am determined to make a start on this garden piece by piece and bit by bit.
I have been busy in the garden since the last episode and l should imagine l shall be busy for most of this week. I have a professional gardener coming here this Thursday with a view to quoting me on cutting the wall roses completely back for the approaching winter and a decent hedge trim on the left side of the garden.
I partially tackled some of the walled rose today, just to see how much of an alteration it would make and l can see that it would make a significant change to the overall shape of the courtyard garden here. You too can see the differences below in the three photographs.
1 – Was taken on the 24th and displays the bench with the tall sunflowers to the far right.
2 – Was taken yesterday when l had decided to take the giant sunflowers down on account of the fact that they were not producing any seed heads this season. But it clearly shows quite a dense section of the wall rose above the bench.
3 – Was taken this afternoon and shows the rose bush cut back
From what l can gather, the last time the roses [there are four main bushes as in pink and cream and they are sited either side of the bench] were pruned right back was in the winter of 2017, so they are in fact due a cut. I think it may in fact help the rose quite a bit given the blight it suffers from. If l didn’t have a full blossom next spring l could live with that. It was perhaps a bit early to trim the roses, but the reality is that l only cut dead and withered wood and there was a lot and there is still a lot of that present. The gardener on Thursday may simply say to wait a bit longer before they are pruned back, it’ll depend l guess. But l think the rose bush could easily be cut down by one or two thirds of its current height.
But l wanted to see ideally how much blank wall there was available to me and that is what l have been focusing on this week – what wall space is there in this garden that l can best utilise for baskets? The answer is quite a bit. It is after all a courtyard garden, l am enclosed in. On the right side of the garden looking out from the patio doors is wall but also there is a fair length of wall on the left side also which ends just past the small shed l have, from that point on and to the end of the garden the left side is wooden six foot high fence.. The walls are sturdy and can easily take more baskets. As it happened l learned that Jeremy who was with me last October was doing some maintenance work in the garden behind me and we had a small chat and he will come and visit me in the next couple of months and work at hanging the necessary baskets and bird boxes.
Whilst yesterday was mostly digging up unwanted plants and emptying out their pots and washing them down, like the giant unheaded sunflowers, it was also about harvesting off the French bean crop … l pulled off quite a substantial amount of beans and gave them to Edward next door because sadly l can no longer eat beans of any sort. But l was astonished at just how bad the ‘black fly’ infestation was and had to pull off the beans and dump directly into a tub of water. You can see the fly in the water [all the black specks]. They were the only crop l have successfully harvested out this year!
Today l managed to get quite a bit done, rose trimming aside, but l emptied out the ceramic sink l have here and l moved that dead weight to its new location, on top of the bird feeding table and inserted the black feeding tray which fitted very snugly indeed. But l think it looks better there, than where it was before, which was hidden at the base of the Hydrangea blooms. You can just see where it was before l dug out the Daffodil bulbs and resited it to the table. You may recall l had daffs on display several months ago, but they were wasted in this garden, they should l think be more of a visible plant and not a hidden species, so l will replant them into one of the crockery pots and resite into the garden elsewhere.
After carefully examining the state of the four metal chairs that were left from the previous renters, l found that two of them were badly corroded and would not be able to be sanded down with a view to being renovated and repainted. They were in a bad state of repair, but l have chosen to keep the two better ones, attend to them and repaint in nice bright colours and have in different locations in the garden and they would serve as ideal settings for pots that had trailing plants.
With the sink moved from beneath the hydrangea, this then meant that l could insert the wooden edging l have which would keep more of the bark chippings in situ. Whilst the garden is shaped in the rectangular, sadly not everywhere is the same shape – so l could only insert two of the edgings and decided to cut back some of the backbush and trim back the Rosemary bush at the back and resite the horseradish on the corner. It does make it easier to keep tidy. The biggest culprits for digging out the bark chippings are the blackbirds and whilst this will NOT completely stop their foraging, it will reduce the amount of chipped debris they kick out onto the gravel path.
This is the hand pump – it is non – functional, but it is a really nice fixture, so l want to be able to do something with this – whatever that may be, probably just a bit of a renovation job and a repaint, but it’ll look nice once done. There are a few other fixtures scattered around the garden mostly those that were at one point best utilised with hanging/trailing plants and now sit empty secured to the walls of the garden itself. My intention is to be able to clean them up and plant into them for next spring.
I would also like to see perhaps a water feature in the garden, this might be a fountain, and if not that then most assuredly a solar fountain feature in the centre of the path. It has been absolutely delightful watching the birds bathe so it would be nice to have something special for them.
What l have noticed about the Willow garden is that it might not like vegetable crops, but it is rather partial to the successful growing of flowers – because they have done remarkably well this season and l have discovered a real love for the colours they provide. So my hyperfocus next year will be on having more of these around hence the need for more hanging baskets and the such like.
Today l managed to offload the larger bins l had around the worm farms and swap them with the smaller bins which l use to hold surplus green wastes. I donated them to Jeremy who volunteers at a sheep rescue, and there they will serve to hold the food in. That will be a bonus to be able to see them leave.
Well as they say Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will be Willow, she’ll be rebuilt, piece by piece and bit by bit… thanks for reading, catch you next time.