My garden, like many others I imagine, is a constant work in progress…. After four years of playing around with ideas while my family grew from 1 to 3 rug rats running around causing chaos… I think I have finally come up with the perfect solution ….
The idea was to create a garden of practical splendour … a beautiful garden to look at, but also one which could entertain and somehow feed my increasingly growing family…….
I wanted to screen the fence line and create a mini utopia using wherever possible plants that could be harvested and eaten. Order amidst Chaos was a desire. Privacy was a must, and some shade from the afternoon sun over the deck a concern. A sustainable approach to all construction was also a necessity.
The garden is divided into three distinct areas: the decked area by the house for family eating, entertaining and play; the middle section for the lawn surrounded by an explosion of colour amidst artichokes and obelisks for climbing runner beans; and the end section for the garden office.
So while the decked area of the garden caters for all sorts of ornamental edible pleasantries (Courgette, Sweetcorn, Rhubarb, Tomatoes, and a plethora of herbs), the Pergola gives vertical height to Grape Vines (Vitis vinifera Muscat de Hamburg) and Runner Beans whilst allowing swings to be swung and hammocks hung, (as well as a support for drying clothes) and giving shade to the kids in the afternoon sun.
The grape vine is in its 3rd year and is now with grapes aplenty. I am looking forward to creating my first bottle of wine combining my two favourite pastimes, gardening and drinking fine wine.
With space at a premium, a degree of aerial gardening has been employed: old apple crates are hung from the beams filled with peas, beetroot, French green beans amongst all sorts of lettuce.
Wired along the perimeter fence line are espaliered fruit trees including Crab Apple (Comtesse de Paris), Medlar (Mespilus germanica) and Apple (Cox’s Orange Pippin).
To complete the ornamental/ edible picture, four olive trees dot the four corners of the garden while a fig tree towers over.
Without a doubt, the pure magic in creating the edible side to the garden has been the luxury of getting the kids involved …. Rocket Gardens (of Cornwall) sent me 100 plug plants in a huge variety of edible goodies .. this meant that the kids could easily help as planting is simple and on a small scale. They loved it and in 2 days we had planted the lot.
It has been a constant source of amazement every morning to see how quickly the fruit and veg have grown – literally three weeks to have an overflowing garden of lush life. Not to mention the pure, undiluted excitement for the kids when we could start eating things. Every day in the last few weeks has involved a morning ritual prowling the garden in search of goodies, starting with wild strawberries, raspberries, runner beans eaten straight from the stem, cooking up a delicious rhubarb crumble.
The older two kids now get a complete kick when their friends come round taking them on a tour and talking through all the food we are growing while offering up tasty nibbles, apples, etc. It is a constant source of amazement at how much they have picked up and how much they are loving it and treating the garden with a new found respect.
Finally, we seem to have created a space where the kids can not only be kids and enjoy themselves in the reckless way that only kids do but with a new found respect for their space were suddenly running through the flower bed is a no-no in case their precious raspberries get squashed …. It is heaven.
Time to get out there to decide what will work for dinner tonight … the lemon cucumbers, nasturtiums, runner beans, apples, courgette flowers, raspberries and strawberries are all ripe for the picking …