School Garden Design Workshop

Today I had the pleasure of working with pupils at a local school, Carrfield Primary Academy, as part of their ‘Eco Day’!

I worked with four different year groups, first explaining to them how we turned our overgrown garden from this:

House Pictures 035

Continue reading “School Garden Design Workshop”

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Clearing the Wilderness to Make Room for our Vegetable Garden

When we bought a derelict house and overgrown garden in August 2013, we were actually far more interested in what we could make of the outdoor space, rather than just focusing on inside!

Both the front and back gardens were so neglected that we didn’t even know how much land we had, in fact we didn’t realise at all that we had a ‘3rd’ garden to the side of the house.

Although the back garden looks quite large from this angle, you can only see a third of the eventual land we revealed
Although the back garden looks quite large from this angle, you can only see a third of the eventual land we revealed
The pathway through the front garden, enclosed by various trees and shrubs that were masking the rest of the area
The pathway through the front garden, enclosed by various trees and shrubs that were masking the rest of the area
Side of the house and back door
Side of the house and back door; hidden underneath these laurel bushes was at least another 20ft of garden we didn’t know we had!

Obviously our first task was to clear away a lot of the overgrown shrubs and bushes so we could see what we had to work with! With the help of lots of friends and family over several weekends, days off and bank holidays, we set about the dense overgrowth where we revealed 5 apple trees, 3 flowering and 1 fruiting cherry trees and a mirabelle tree all which we pruned back but kept in the garden, as well as a giant blackcurrant bush which unfortunately had to go as it was blocking the light to house windows.

The blackcurrant bush that was at least 20 years old and blocking light into the house
The blackcurrant bush that was at least 20 years old and blocking light into the house (with the giant conifer looming in the background behind the garage)

During this process we were very conscious of the fact that we were stripping away at ‘nature’ and whilst we preserved as much as we could, a lot of it just had to be removed, it was too old, too overgrown and in the case of most of the plants, choked in ivy.

Trying to remove thick ivy stems from the trunk of an apple tree
Trying to remove thick ivy stems from the trunk of an apple tree
Creating piles of cuttings as the land was cleared to then be shredded and chipped
Creating piles of cuttings as the land was cleared to then be shredded and chipped

However, we always tried to make best use of whatever we took out. Every plant and tree that was removed was shredded or chipped and a couple of trees that had to be removed were chopped up for future use for the wood burning stove that we were fitting in the living room.

Logs and sticks waiting to be chopped up and stored
Logs and sticks waiting to be chopped up and stored

We sacrificed a section of the back garden behind the garage to become a driveway as the property had no parking at all, and for the hardcore base of the drive, we reused bricks and rubble that had been removed during the house renovations.

The area we allocated for the driveway
The area we allocated for the driveway

The earth that was dug out for the base of the driveway was put into another gigantic pile and was later used to fill the raised beds we created!

Piles of earth and chippings on a frosty winter morning!
Piles of earth and chippings on a frosty winter morning!

The huge piles of chippings that we generated from the overgrowth have since been used all around the garden.

One of the many piles of chippings we created
One of the many piles of chippings we created

Nearly 2 years later and we’ve still got a huge wood pile of fuel to burn!

After several weeks of non-stop clearing, we were finally left with a blank canvas on which to build our new gardens, at the front, back and side of the house!

Time to begin again!
Time to begin again!

TIMBER!

Some very exciting things have been happening in the garden this week! The two big imposing trees that have been left to grow out of control and overpower the garden, are coming down!

Tree 1 – The Giant Conifer

Before
Before
Nearly gone...
Nearly gone…
The Stump!
The Stump!

Tree 2 – The Overgrown Christmas Tree

Before
Before
Christmas tree in front of the house
Christmas tree in front of the house
Front of the house without the tree!
Front of the house without the tree!

I’m gutted that I haven’t actually seen any of this for myself yet – I’ve been at work all week and it’s dark by the time I’ve finished – so I can’t wait for Saturday morning to see it all in real life!!

All this has been done by the lovely people from Selwyn Trees, who totally get what we’re trying to achieve and are helping us loads in clearing the overgrown garden!

Selwyn Trees
Selwyn Trees

 

 

The ‘before’ photos outside

Renovation Project!

Since we got back from our stint in France we’ve been renting a lovely cottage on a farm, which has totally suited our needs as we’ve had a busy few years workwise and otherwise, but the one thing we were missing was our own garden to be able to get back into the lifestyle that we love, growing our own fruits and vegetables and turning them into, well anything we can think of!

After an extensive search through Right Move and visiting several properties we were beginning to think that the ideal place just didn’t exist, until some very good friends of ours tipped us off about a house that had come empty next door to friends of theirs (it’s all about networks!) After sneakily peering through the windows a few times and assessing the size of the very overgrown garden, we decided that this looked like an ideal project. We managed to get in touch with the seller who, after some bartering, agreed to sell it to us without going on the market!

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The house needs total renovation so it’s an exciting prospect to totally start from scratch with the decor, but the best part about it is, the garden is huge! Or at least it will be when we clear out the 20 years worth of overgrowth. We got the keys to the house in early September and the original plan was to move in, bring it up to a livable standard, attack the garden, then extend on to the side of the house in a year or so’s time. However, those plans changed once my Dad cast his eyes around the inside of the property…

Dad has always had a brilliant eye for house renovation and making the best of spaces, he actually built a house from scratch when I was little, and he quickly decided that if we moved the staircase, we would actually gain a whole other room upstairs! This would also give us a much bigger kitchen which is important to us; wheverever we live, the kitchen quickly becomes the heart of the home.

So work has begun on turning this little house on its head by totally changing the layout, as well as installing a new bathroom, kitchen, wood burning stove in the living room, skimming each room, replacing the heating system, rewiring the house, the list goes on….. and that’s not to mention the garden!

Here’s a couple of slideshows of the inside and outside of the house before we started ripping it apart, we’ll keep you updated on progress!