Category Archives: garden design

Garden plans

Despite the gloom, I’m getting outside as often as I can to make a start on the changes I’ve planned for 2014. It’s very late though, especially given it’s been relatively mild.

Note: To maximise time in my own garden, I should really stop volunteering to get involved with other and bigger green spaces!!

I sowed the sweet peas around 2 weeks ago. I should have started with veg, but I never get around to it with sweet peas. Last year only one of the three that germinated actually survived after transplant at the allotment. The scent is intoxicating and they look so pretty clambering up cut branches. So far 24 have germinated, so I hope I will have many cut flowers in the house and around the veg plot.

Toilet rolls and potted papers for the sweet peas
Toilet rolls and potted papers for the sweet peas

I have finally been out with my secateurs to neaten the woodland wildlife garden. I needed to, to cut back the rampant Kerria japonica alongside the fence. The starlings in particular have been giving me a helping hand with taking last year’s perennial stems, but it felt good to finally start tidying and making space. I still have a long way to go, but it’s a start.

Forks at the ready
Forks at the ready

Our fence is in quite a bad state. It needed treating, so I thought a pretty colour would brighten up the back garden on a gloomy day. It draws attention to the crumbling frames, but I hope it will last another year or two. We have windbreaks to put up in the allotment before we can think about replacing this!

'Wild Thyme' Garden Shades fence paint
‘Wild Thyme’ Garden Shades fence paint

And the sorry state of the frog pond… The Scirpus had fallen completely under water while we were away, the stones put in to create shelves when the pond was built have moved, and there are no hiding places for the frogs, or easy places to get out. I still haven’t sorted it out, but I have bought a collection of water plants. Once I buy a new net (the small one I was using this morning snagged on a stone and went in AGAIN) and get even longer rubber gloves, I will be able to locate the stones, rearrange them and create some planting spaces to help the frogs. Hopefully then they will reward me with frogspawn, but it might be too late this year now.

Planted basket with marginals
Planted basket with marginals

Still, the sparrows are keeping busy. When a bunch of 6 or so screaming males descend in the garden at the same time it is wonderful to stop and watch. A pair of hungry great tits have just been to visit, and the dunnocks are coming a bit more frequently again.

Not strictly veg-growing, but all things that contribute to biodiversity by providing habitat and food for wildlife. Oh and I finally ordered raspberry canes today after dithering for weeks. So I will HAVE to get those beds finished over the next few days.

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Inspirational planting plans

Some 3 1/2 years ago, I took the boys to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology in the northern reaches of Mid Wales. I had wanted to go for a while, and I have wanted to return ever since – what a fantastic day out.

A chance to see the working of a retired old MS-2 turbine
A chance to see the working of a retired old MS-2 turbine

Built on the site of an old slate quarry, the C.A.T. seeks to put a positive solutions-based approach to reducing our impact on our wonderful planet earth. There are lots of interactive displays and zones to help bring to life issues of sustainability through education and fun. Not only did I find it engaging, the boys did too, and that’s a really important thing in the quest for sustainable living.

Educational displays on composting, including the worm slide that leads to the bowels of the worm's earth
Educational displays on composting, including the worm slide that leads to the bowels of the worm’s earth

I suppose what I remember the most is the organic gardens. Now that I have time to design and implement some changes at the allotment, I looked back through our holiday pictures for inspiration. This photo was the key to my planting plans for 2014.

Companion planting in the organic gardens
Companion planting in the organic gardens: leaf amaranth with poppy ‘Ladybird’ alongside nasturtiums, lettuces and oregano

Co-planting flowers and vegetables as companions will be the main theme in our allotment beds this year, particularly after the Phacelia / Broad bean success last year. And I managed to track down a trusted supplier of edible Amaranth seeds (and Gardener’s World magazine will be shipped with a packet of ladybird poppy seed in next month’s March edition). More about the Real Seed Catalogue tomorrow (also in Wales!) but for now, some lovely pictures from an amazing day out.

Interesting vistas and group planting around every corner
Interesting vistas and group planting around every corner
Advice in action - saving the planet's natural resources
Advice in action – saving the planet’s natural resources
Recycling old materials into ponds and planters
Recycling old materials into ponds and planters
Planters with vegetables in every corner
Planters with vegetables in every corner
Information regarding the food cycle
Information regarding the food cycle
Edibles gardens
Edibles gardens
Creative play facilities for children of all ages
Creative play facilities for children of all ages
Climbing nets on the wooden play course
Climbing nets on the wooden play course

 

"There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience" Archibald MacLeish
“There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience” Archibald MacLeish

The aesthetic of growing plants in a multitude of containers and situations might not be to everyone’s taste, but I love it. And it’s been great to see it incorporated in the ‘Veg Street’ community vegetable growing project in a North London borough started by Naomi Schillinger and others. See the book here.