I haven’t spent a lot of time in the garden recently (that seems to be my refrain this year!). I keep nipping out to fill up the bird feeders, but that’s about as far as it gets. To be honest, I am suffering under the deluge of hate and horror that’s been in the news this year. Brexit and Trump both appear to be be both disastrous and unstoppable, every day brings fresh stories of vulnerable people being subjected to sexual harassment (and many other forms of exploitation) by the rich and powerful, and the evidence that we’re doing irreversible harm to our beautiful planet just keeps piling up.
I’ve spent a lot of this year feeling angry and helpless and thoroughly despondent. One bright thread is that there is an increasing body of evidence that spending time outdoors – in nature, or in the garden – is thoroughly good for us. Yes, we knew that really, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that getting outside should be a priority. Ryan and I spend about 15 mins walking on weekday mornings and evenings and (when there’s enough light…) we love keeping an eye out for the local wildlife – mainly rabbits, squirrels and ducks. We’re also lucky enough to have a lot of birds in the vicinity, including a parliament of rooks.
I’ve tried to limit my exposure to the doom and gloom, but it’s easier to hide away then venture out into the garden. I think I’m coming out of it now, though, and the garden To Do list is on my mind. Some of it has been on hold because the autumn as been mild – there have been a handful of frosts, but they’re not having a big impact on the garden – and the garden is still quite autumnal.
The fuchsia berries are still flowering and fruiting, in their pots. I have usually planted my garlic by now, but the ‘salad’ bed I should be clearing to make way for it is still flowering. It has been presenting a sunny face, with a serendipitous display of calendula and nasturtiums in matching shades of orange. I couldn’t bring myself to pull them up, although they’re starting to look less cheerful now, so I think their end is fast approaching.
We designed the garden to cope with the times when I don’t feel like being outside. We also designed it with wintery weather in mind. The paving allows me to get everywhere in the main garden without having to step into mud or puddles. It’s something we take for granted now, but we’ve had a lot of rain recently and the local area is quite sodden. Since I have a bad habit of heading out in the garden in my slipper, proper paving is a boon.
Ryan and I were lucky enough to start with a blank canvas, and we spent a lot of time thinking about what we wanted the garden to do, and those were two of the important things: look after itself for long periods of time, and not be muddy in winter so it’s still a nice place to be. Raised beds and plenty of paving were our solutions, and it’s working out nicely. I was fortunate that Ryan has an engineering background and is able to do proper plans for us. Had that not been the case I would have looked for a landscaping company (such as Instant Gardens), because getting the layout and groundwork right has proved to be an invaluable investment.
This post has been produced in collaboration with Instant Gardens, but – as ever – the musings are all my own.
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.