Making a start on the second half of the garden
The right side of the garden, in April 2016

This time last year, we remember the unfinished parts of the garden being mostly bog. It was so wet that it delayed us finishing the garden – it was hard to prepare the ground for the new raised beds. The weather couldn’t be more different this year, as the traditional April showers fail to appear, and I’ve taken to watering plants in containers. I know plenty of gardeners were praying for rain, even over the Bank Holiday weekend (when, as we well know, rain often stops play!).

We’ve had a couple of light showers in the last two days, enough to dampen down the patio and not much else. But it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, as they say, and it meant that Ryan could continue with his project to sort out the garden paths.

He borrowed an angle grinder from his dad, and dressed up in suitable outdoor workwear and hefty boots. (If you’re in need of work clothes and safety shoes, have a look here at the Engelbert Strauss range – it’s an independent, family-run firm, and the market leader). After he roughly dug over the right hand side of the garden (looking from the house), I pulled up the worst of the weeds. Then it was time to take the rotovator to it, and flatten the soil down for the path bed.

Ryan has got the knack of laying these paths now, and it took him no time at all to settle some slabs and fill the gaps with gravel, even though he had to cut through one slab (hence the angle grinder!) to work around an inconvenient manhole cover. (There are several in the garden, for reasons that escape us….)


Ryan's new path and border

So now I have another path, and one more area of the garden that I can access without getting muddy (when it finally rains!). And Ryan has sectioned off a new border for me, against the fence. His next job is to fit some sturdy posts and training wires, and this will be home to the espalier apple tree that’s on its way from Lubera next month. I’m sure I’ll find one or two other plants to ramble along as ground cover underneath.

When it’s planted then the back garden is pretty much finished. There’s a ‘service area’ outside the kitchen, which is very shady and has the washing line in it, which needs some proper paving and a good clear out. It’s home to one or two plants that like shade, in pots, but it’s not really a planting zone.


I've tidied the shed.

You may wonder what I was doing while Ryan was improving the hard landscaping? I finally got around to sowing my forget-me-nots, and also potted up some ginger and turmeric roots I want to try growing. Then I got tired of working around the clutter in the shed, and gave it a good tidy and a sweep! I’ve moved my potting tray from the back wall to the front staging, where I can watch the birds’ antics while I work, and recycled some of the smaller pots in my ever-growing stash. Whether the new layout makes my life easier or not remains to be seen, but at least I can get into the shed! It was easy for it to become a dumping ground over the winter, but I will be spending more time out there again now. I’ve even got the net curtains ready to put up, which is my (slightly quaint) solution to the fact that it faces south and gets very bright and hot when the sun shines.


Outdoor sowings (and a clumping onion)
What’s under the mini greenhouse? I’ll explain soon….

With a new path, a clean shed, baby blackbirds and new life, the garden is quite a different place than it was even last month! How’s yours developing this year?


This post is the result of a collaboration, but the words are my own, and the hard work was all Ryan’s 🙂


This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.

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