Gardening at Home

My garden at home is a bit neglected. I work eight hours a day in the gardens at Layer Marney Tower and I have to admit that doing another hour at home rarely appeals to me. One of the reasons we first bought the house was its relatively generous garden for a two-bedroomed terrace house.

It was virtually a blank canvas; barring the big horrible conifer and large established Lilac there were a few feeble shrubs along either fence and a lawn. Naively, and with a certain amount of stupidity, I tried to make my ideas a reality in the first year. I created a veg patch consisting of a big unwieldy area of soil with one wiggly path zig-zagging  through it in an attractive but impractical manner and a curvaceous area of grass bounded by fairly deep (for a garden of this size) borders.

I planted several trees; an apple tree with several varieties grafted onto one trunk, Malus ‘John Downie’, a rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia) and three Betula jacquemontii (why yes I may have been swayed by fashion) and this was probably the only good thing about diving in too soon and too hard; I now have some trees of significant impact in my garden. The birches, unfortunately, have never really taken off properly but the apples and rowan are great.

We have made periodic attempts to clear, plant and mulch various bits of the borders but then weeds come in faster than I can clear (wild grasses are the bane of my life here thanks to living next to a meadow). This year I decided to ignore the borders almost entirely and focus on the area closest to the house. This approach has given me the little veg patch and herb beds.

I aimed to have this area, including the bit in front of our run-down shed, finished by the end of this year, but that’s not looking likely thanks to a full diary this month and next. I’m intending that in the end the borders just past the veg patch will have a meadow-like feeling with grasses and plants such as Perovskia and Eryngium. Closest to the end of the garden I’m untimately going to go for a somewhat ‘edge of woodland’ feel. We can’t really afford to get rid of the horrible big conifer so we might as well run with it!

I’m sorry if this all seems rather negative, but the garden’s mostly been a source of guilt and work rather than pride and pleasure. It has its moments. The light here is beautiful, as you can see and when I can relax and not worry about the weeds and the plants they are smothering, I can enjoy it. I am pleased with my original lawn/border shapes and with the progress we’ve made on the veg patch. I now feel that that can take less of my time and progress can be made, slowly, on the rest of the garden.

So what have I learnt from this?

1. When working full time as a gardener with busy weekends it is horribly unrealistic to think I’ll be able to spend much time on my own garden.

2. When creating a garden with limited resources (whether time, energy or money) work in blocks to avoid leaving areas half done.

3. The garden’s for me and Mr K to enjoy sitting out in. I should try to avoid making it job#2. For this I might need a personality transplant.

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14 responses to “Gardening at Home

  1. My word I can understand how after working all day especially in a garden that coming home to work in a garden has less appeal. I moved too fast and without good plans when I first moved in and now with my job taking so much time I find it hard to even weed all the beds being taken over…oh what we think we can do…

  2. Same here. When at the job all day, no real desire to work my own garden. Weeds are everywhere and when August rolls around, they get to stay. More for the lack of time at this time of year with commercial projects, but they get a reprieve.

  3. I like the look of your garden, it seems to be a place for relaxing. I like your plant, and I hope you can carry it out.

  4. I bought my house for its large undeveloped back yard, but it has proven to be more challenging than I expected. Like Donna above I didn’t have plans, but your thoughts about working in blocks has worked well for me.

  5. Because I love gardening so much, I have often thought of moving into some sort of horticultural profession. However, I was always afraid it would create this burnout that would not leave me much of myself for my own garden. Frankly, sometimes my own garden tires me out. I think you have handled it beautifully.

    • Thank you 🙂 Like any job gardening has its down sides and I think the burnout you describe is a danger when you take something you enjoy as a hobby and make it your living. I have the same dilemma about writing sometimes!

  6. I smiled at your reason for buying you house, because my husband says that we bought our home so that I could have a garden. 🙂 We are kindred spirits in that respect.

    I worked at a nursery for a few years before our three children came along, and I remember coming home physically tired – wet and cold or sun burnt and dehydrated. But I usually still had some mental musings about gardening running through my head.

    Perhaps you should give yourself some more time to dream about what you would really like and then plan on breaking it into smaller chunks? That maybe what you are already doing. I find that I am usually too hard on myself and if I just let it go for awhile, the creative energy to actually want to make my garden beautiful does come… eventually 🙂

    Glad to be reading along! I look forward to seeing the beauty that will be someday!

  7. I don’t want to be flippant but what you need is a gardener!

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