E+E Column: Green Fingered Blues

I can’t remember whether I’ve already bored you all poor readers with my ramblings about how much I like gardening. If so, I do apologise. But to recap, I’ve been dabbling in growing my own fruit, vegetables and flowers for the last six years to varying degrees of success. My highlight was probably last year when, living in a converted barn, we had the luxury of a rather large vegetable garden with raised bed and access to a very nice greenhouse. For several months we had a good supply of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, salad, beans, peas, apples, plums and pumpkins grown mostly by my own fair hands (with the help of some smaller and much grubbier ones), just a stones throw from the house. Unfortunately this year hasn’t been quite the same…

When we moved back to Topsham last October, the only regret I had was losing such a lovely big garden. In our current house, we have a small courtyard-style back garden and a smaller paved front garden with an ivy problem (more on that later). Nevertheless, I was determined that I would embrace ‘urban gardening’ and would utilise all my previous knowledge to create a wonderful space. I had visions of ridiculous amounts of terracotta pots overflowing with homegrown goodness, of small potted fruit trees dotted around, of some gorgeous garden furniture. I was going to transform the garden.

One year on however, this dream hasn’t quite been fulfilled. I’ve converted a gravel bed (or the town’s largest cat litter tray) to lawn, planted some flowers in the front garden and grown a handful of vegetable plants in big pots (mostly inherited from my parents) to not much success. We had a few meals worth of potatoes, a handful of strawberries, a spattering of peas, a good supply of salad (but let’s face it, it’s takes a lot to go wrong with growing salad) and finally, after much ripening, some tomatoes. Not quite the Eden in Topsham that I had imagined!

I’m going to play the baby card once more and say that we would have probably got a lot more done if it wasn’t for the cute little distraction that he has caused this year. But I have high hopes (again) for a better year next year. In fact, so optimistic I am that we purchased 3 bags of daffodil and tulip bulbs a few weeks ago for our front garden. Sophia and I got to work yesterday weeding and I decided to finally tackle the dreaded ivy that has engulfed our front wall and was creeping along threatening to do the same to our neighbours. There is something very satisfying about ripping huge amounts of dead ivy to little, by little, reveal the lovely stone wall underneath. Until that is, you turn around and see the massive pile of ivy that now has to be disposed of! As this is a continuing project, I am reminding myself that sometimes, things have to look worse before they can get better. So I’m publishing a photo of the embarassing mess that is my front garden in the hope that the shame will be enough motivation to get on with bagging it up and driving it to the tip! And hopefully, come Spring I can show you a lovely little paved garden, free from weeds with brightly coloured flowers, welcoming in the sun. Watch this space…

28.09.15

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