My favourite part of the front garden has three raised beds made four years ago, from timber treated with organic oils from Osmo, because I have grown so much food there. This part of the garden was a weed-infested rockery when I moved here. A few years ago I removed the rockery plants and mulched it, hoping to grow veg but hit two main problems – the soil is very shallow and on top of builders’ rubble (from an extension in the 1970s, it is quite a bit higher than my neighbours’ gardens for this reason) and the most enthusiastic bindweed I have ever experienced, which appears to have roots deep into the centre of the earth!
Wooden sided raised beds are a good solution here as they increase the soil level by 8 inches. I originally filled them with a mixture of well rotted manure and municipal waste compost and now top them up with an inch or so of well rotted compost every year. The paths are mulched with sawdust, a free waste product from a local carpenter.
Next to these beds is a smaller one made with wooden offcuts where I planted a beautiful little cherry tree and opposite, another growing space has different enthusiastic weeds: enchanter’s nightshade and ground ivy. Here I grow teasels for the goldfinches – they self seed like crazy but the seedlings are very recognisable and easy to remove. For me, is worth growing a few plants for the pleasure of watching the feeding finches all winter.
Our pond is old and was overgrown and leaking 14 years ago when we moved here – it still leaks and can be very low in the summer. This doesn’t deter the frogs who return every spring around Valentine’s to lay their frogspawn. They are back a week earlier this year.
Although I don’t want it to be too pristine, the paved area needs a good weeding, particularly around the pond. I hope to encourage more interesting plants in the cracks. I have struggled with keeping on top of the weeds here due to lack of time mostly as I was working part of almost every weekend for the past 3 years. The weeds seem to grow like triffids in my front garden the moment my back is turned, so it is quite a challenge!
The plans for the front garden include:
- mulch along the hedge with light excluding plastic mulch for a year, to try to get rid of the enchanter’s nightshade
- make a wildlife area along the front on the garden, next to the pavement
- grow more up the walls
- grow some more pond plants (I have bought seeds for this)
- grow food in pots to make more use of the paved area
- sort out the side of the house to make more effective storage and hopefully grow things too
- see if I can install a water butt so I don’t have to lug watering cans from the back garden
- paint the shabby bits down the side of the house
I think there is plenty of scope here to make an even more productive growing space which looks colorful and welcoming.