Monday, 3 March 2014

Smallholding Garden Makeover. "Time For A Change".

We have been busy changing the look of our herbaceous cottage garden.  It's the third garden design in the last twelve years.  First I made the gardens whilst the house was being built.   The builders weren't impressed that they couldn't empty their cement mixer any where they wanted.  I sowed a lawn here at the back of the house.  But it is North facing and it wasn't long before the Moss decided to make my lawn its home.  So then I (we) made a traditional Cottage garden and filled it with lots of herbaceous perennials ("pretty flowers") and lots of wheelbarrows of well rotted farm yard manure.  Farm yard manure is a cold manure and this means it's full of weed seeds and lovely nettles and "Twitch" (Couch grass)...?
Any road.  We live in between silage fields and when they grow they they deposit every weed seed and grass into our garden.  So I have got tired of weeding it and decided to give it another make over.  This involved a day (full one) digging out the old weeds and saving what plants we could.  Then we opted for Mypex landscape fabric.  It turned out a lot cheaper than my Astro Turf/ plastic grass idea.  So we cut holes in the fabric and planted some plants through it.  Then we wheel barrowed and raked 2 tons of red pea gravel and placed some second hand stepping stones on it complete with some stepping stones.  
Finished garden.  Complete with Greek lady statue.  Spot the white plastic sheep?  

Is your garden due a make over?  What's your plans for this year?  Have you got your potatoes chitted yet?  Must get those paving stones power washed.  Is that what God sends the rain for?  Well he gives us puddles to wash our shoes in!  May be not!


  1. Looks OK, it seems to be the modern idea, almost maintenance-free with a few splashes of colour. Twitch is the worst thing to get rid of, I don't think you'll ever eradicate it completely, but this might keep it in check.

    Lovely day here today, bright sun, blue sky, no rain and felt a lot warmer. Gone a bit colder when the sun went down, but better than the constant rain, there's already more than enough puddles to wash our wellies in.

    Raggy cat continuing its love affair with the hearth, a creature of habit, but seems a bit less reluctant to be thrown out at night, the hunting must be improving or it's getting warmer.

  2. I'm glad you didn't go for the astro turf! Low maintenance will be handy. I know what you mean about the muck! I've got no end of weeds from it on ours! Yours looks nice and easy to keep looking nice, which it key!
    Our main gardens need some serious make overs. The back lawn was once rotovated (many years ago) and then left so you're liable to break an ankle as you walk across it!

  3. I think it's the wet seasons of the last few years (last summer was an exception) that have made us all think about our gardens differently, Cumbrian. I haven't been able to touch the garden since early December when we had summer conditions. Walking about in a t shirt. My late father use to say it only takes 3 months for a garden or allotment/ veg plot to become fully overgrown.

    Wet here today. Everything coming into bud yet the ground is still saturated. Never managed to get the cattle out once this winter. Normally let them have a run about and clean off the old grass on the pastures.

    Domino caught another mouse yesterday. Saw a green caterpillar in the garden. Nothings seems to get killed off. Thanks.

  4. Yes Kev I am going to concentrate my weeding on the productive vegetable plot instead of the flower garden. I often wonder about what carbon foot prints lawnmowers (petrol) have? Why do we waste so much time cutting grass? Surely it would be better to use our lawns to feed livestock?

    I have been spreading cow manure around the surface of the veg plot for the last few years. Attempting to use 'no digging' methods and cardboard for 'Lasagna' mulching. I found the 'no dig' very good in terms of less labour and letting the elements and worms slowly take the worms down. But there is also a weed problem. Think this year (if if ever drys up) I will trench and fill with fym and cover with top soil when planting the early potatoes.

    Bought compost is very good because it's heated up to kill any weed seeds when it's manufactured. Cow manure is a very cold manure and the weed seeds are still present unless it's really well composted.


  5. A miserable winter everywhere I think, gardens looking sadly neglected and everything still waterlogged here as well. And lambing coming fast, hope it improves in the next couple of weeks, the cold rain and wind won't do the new-borns any good, most of the fields are fairly exposed. But most things are budding, so it must be spring I suppose.

    Good idea to graze the lawns, wish I could find something to turn all the grass into meat.

    More rain and cold wind here today, the wheelie bin blew over.

    Raggy cat fast becoming an indoor cat, spends most of its time sleeping somewhere warm, hedonistic little sod. Still gets put out afternoon and at night though. Good to hear Domino's earning his keep, I haven;t had a mouse or anything for weeks, must be feeding it too bloody well.

  6. Watched a television programme on Channel 4 last night about the floods. Apparently it was the wettest Winter since records began in the 1700's. It's got to be global warming and the effects of pollution caused by 2 world wars, Industry and 34 million vehicles in the UK alone. Supposed to be nice weather from today and all next week. We will see.

    I think we waste a lot of time and money manicuring lawns. Once saw a sheep tethered with a rope to a front wheel of a tractor tyre. It pulled the tyre around when it wanted new grass but it couldn't escape. I believe a lot of the old English churchyards used to be tended by sheep. The great Landscape designer: Capability Brown used sheep to maintain his enormous creations. It's even woth letting grass grow and cut paths through it with a mower and strimmer and then harvest it for hay. Could you not keep a few rabbits again, Cumbrian?

    Not seen a single rat this Winter. Cumbrian and terrier are obviously letting it be known they are patrolling the smallholding.


  7. Domino and terrier even! Sorry Cumbrian!

  8. Yes I can believe the wettest winter on record, saw a report on the Thames barrier, seemingly it's being used a lot more than anticipated and they're even thinking of building another higher barrier. Strange that quite a bit Holland is under sea level, but we don't hear of any water-related disasters there, they appear to be on top of water engineering. Not sure about the reasons, it could be just a natural phenomena made worse by our polluting ways.

    Thought about tethering a sheep, but didn't think it was very kind to keep a single sheep on a tether, might be OK for circular lawns.
    Though about a goat, but they're expensive, need milked daily and don't provide much of a carcase. And they're pretty good escapologists.
    Though about rabbits but the fencing needed to keep them in and reynard out would be astronomical in relation to the meat I'd get. and Mrs won't eat rabbit, they're little fluffy things. Unlike lambs, which she eats happily.
    Thought about chickens, OK there's eggs and a nice dinner, but same problems as rabbits.
    Thought about geese, but they can be bad-tempered things and dangerous sometimes.
    So I need find some creature that eats only grass, doesn't try to escape, leaves nice dry easy-to-pick-up droppings, doesn't need much water or supplementary feeding, is very docile, doesn't attract foxes, small enough to be easy to kill and prepare, and converts grass to acceptable meat very quickly.
    If I ever do find one I'll be a millionaire selling them to other people with lots of lawn they don't really want.

    No, I've never seen a rat here, there must be some, next door has a few pet chickens, and there's no other cats or dogs in the vicinity, but they either avoid the Raggy cat territory or keep a very low profile.

    Yes I read we're supposed to get a spring-like week-end, I'll believe it when it happens. this morning dawned fairly bright with blue sky and white clouds, but still a cold breeze and feeling damp.

    I let Raggy cat in about 6:00 am and was wet, so it must have been raining earlier.

  9. I have heard a few environmentalists say that dredging the rivers would be damaging to wildlife. Fish aren't daft and they would soon swim away if they are allowed to escape from the dredger. Surely it's time to invest in building more storage tanks and reservoirs to store all the surplus rainwater? No doubt Southern England will have a summer drought and implement the customary hosepipe bans? Places like Cumbria and Ireland never have a shortage of water.

    If you could find somebody to sell your rabbits to like a butcher. It would be worth making a few hutches and runs. Or perhaps planting an orchard and just strim the grass a few times a year.

    Lovely day to today. Planted a Griselina hedge and it's joy to get in the garden. Soil still too sticky to dig over for the potatoes. Showers tomorrow and gorgeous next week.


  10. That’s nice! Do you have other additional plans for the makeover? Too bad the photos are kind of too focused and a little at the edges, so we couldn’t get the full view of your garden. I hope it’s not too much to ask, but I would love to see the view your garden in a clearer picture.

    Mitchell Knapp @ Scenic Landscaping


Under Our Hedge.

Apparently this summer, 1976 and 1941 are the warmest summers on record.  Although I believe it was 33 degrees in Kilkenny in 1887 or som...