Friday, 20 March 2009

Horticulturally challenged.........

Let me get one thing straight right now.

I am NOT a gardener.

I love HAVING a garden, but lack the expertise, time, energy and confidence to do anything remotely creative with it. It saddens me that there is not one thing in the garden which really heralds spring, like daffodils, tulips, primroses or crocuses (or should that be crocii?) We don't even have any bog standard spring flowering shrubs like forsythia, which is bursting forth exuberantly in neighbour's gardens yelling "IT'S SPRING!"

The front garden is a bit of a wasteland, nominally laid to lawn with a circular bed of small shrubs in the centre. However the lawn is 95% weeds, moss and dandelions. We've tried all manner of weed & feed preparations, which seem to nurture the weeds and kill off what remains of the grass. The bed of shrubs is also weed-ridden, and the shrubs themselves are sickly and half dead.

If money were no object we'd have the whole front garden brick-paved and be done with it. Ours is the only house in the road without a garage, so adding off-street parking would be an useful improvement. We could then add splashes of colour with pots and planters, and be freed from the drudgery of having to mow the dandelions and weeds every 10 days throughout the summer.

The back garden does at least look marginally better. A previous owner spent a small fortune on hard-landscaping the sloping site, terracing the lawns with sweeping retaining brick walls and curving steps up to the top terrace where they sited a small wooden summerhouse which we've painted to look like a beach hut and added 'deck chair' striped curtains. There is also a large patio area.

Two years ago, we reduced the lawn areas by transforming one of the terraces into a shingle 'beach', which is adorned with old bits of groyne, driftwood and sections of fishing net we found washed up on the shore.

However the remaining lawn is very sloping so can't be used for sitting out on....well not on chairs whose legs are all the same length anyway. Also crucially, the right hand boundary, which legally belongs to our neighbours, has a wooden fence which is in very poor condition. Apparently, the previous owners of our house cut a deal with the neighbours to replace the fence but for some unknown reason it was put on our side of the chainlink boundary, so now the neighbours no longer regard it as 'their fence'. Last winter two of the fence panels blew down and haven't been replaced so there is now an ugly gap which we have resisted repairing as it shouldn't be our responsibility. The gap is nominally secure as there is an even uglier bit of chain link fencing which originally separated the building plots when the houses were first built.

Small dog doesn't mind the gap and sits by the chain link fence spying on the neighbours, and occasionally commenting on their activities in a series of staccato strident barks. We thought she might have encouraged the rapid replacement of the missing panels but perhaps she isn't barking loudly and often enough.

Anyway, the gap offends me.

I don't really want to be able to see right into someone else's garden, and I don't like the loss of our privacy either. The left hand boundary for which we ARE responsible is the length of the Great Wall of China, but thankfully is of a much better standard than the shoddy right hand fence.

So, being disenchanted with the garden, mainly because of the fence issue, is the primary reason for my lack of interest in doing anything with it. That, and not being able to do any of the heavy work required to make the necessary improvements, like planting a quick-growing shrub hedge to conceal the ugly fence and gap.

It is sooooo tempting to have someone in to do something with it. We need it to be low-maintenance but it would be lovely to feel proud of it and happy with it again.

Let's face it, we might have a fantastic summer in store, with its attendant opportunities for sipping chilled white wine in the sunshine! And if that's the case I'd like to be able to do it in a more convivial and private garden space.


rosanna said...

You describe it as an utter horror but, part from the gap which is really annoying, it seems quite good to me. The hutch and the beach look a great place for resting in summer.

Sandra Morris said...

I took the photo from an upstairs window so from that distance you can't actually see all the weeds, or the slimy algae patches on the patio, or all the overgrown areas.

It's also so sterile and lacking in colour. It looks much the same from one season to the next, apart from when I use planted pots for summer colour.

It could look sooooo much better.

tattyhousehastings said...

You Mrs, are a shocker, this is lovely, and beach y bit very nice...I bet you haven't got too many of the evil slugs either.

Sandra Morris said...

Bev, I'll have you know that we are slap bang in the middle of 'slug central'.

I've given up on hostas, nasturtiums and the like as they last 10 minutes max. once the slugs get at them. I use the salty death method to try to stem the slug tide, but it's a losing battle. That main lawn area is also home to approximately 19,543 ant colonies.

tattyhousehastings said...

Hmm, ants - are they good or bad? All I know is my mum's trauma once when I was very little and got absolutely covered in them without noticing, apparantly she had to shake me like a rag doll to get them off.
We have slugs, foxes, badgers and pooing cats in our back garden. Makes me bit sick sometimes.