When we moved we inherited an established garden that had structure but not much else aside from trees and hedges and a few plants, some of which we kept and some we composted. Our original aims are to create a garden that is both productive in terms of vegetables, fruit and cut flowers but that also looks good throughout the seasons.
First up, boundaries, to stop the odd rogue horse coming back, (though that only happened once to be fair), we plan to clear the end of the garden which is currently wilder with a few brambles running through it. We want to have a wilder feel into the field beyond and encourage smaller wildlife from visiting, such as the pheasants, so we are planning a line of fence posts which will be planted a dark colour and we'll have plants will grow up against them. This should hold back the larger wildlife but still give us our view of the field. In the Winter, the site is quite windy as we're on a hill, so putting up a solid fence barrier would be a complete waste of time and money! 😂
Our other main issue here is the soil, which is heavy clay so we will need to keep adding lots of compost to it as well as growing plants that will work with it such as roses, which love clay soil. We've planted a total of seven roses so far, (x3 Gertrude Jekyll, x1 Darcey Bussell both David Austin roses, x1 Mme Isaac Perriere, x1 Rose de Rescht and x1 Charles De Mills). The roses vary in colour from a mid pink to a bright magenta and all them are scented. Hopefully, they'll do ok and that we get enough this year so I can bring the blooms into the house and also give to friends and family.
It's funny because I used to like the idea of a restrained palette of colour in a garden, mostly blues and whites, but since discovering dahlias, which we planted in pots last year, I've really grown to love more powerful vivid colours. We had quite a few dahlias and cosmos last year from pots which did OK, though this year we are planning to plant the dahlias in the ground so that they produce more blooms. They really are a great cut flower though and last ages in vases! If you're looking to grow your own cut flowers then I'd definitely recommend you try dahlias, even if you just have room for a pot garden.
We plan to add more vivid colours to our garden this year not only from the cosmos and dahlias, but also earlier in the season from tulips and sweet peas. Sweet peas are something we have grown in our previous garden but the soil there was sandy, so we're hoping that they'll do better in our richer soil here as they are hungry plants. We tried to choose varieties that are as scented as possible (Hi Scent and Matucana, Cupani are some of the varieties we are growing), as not all sweet peas are that scented, we've grown some before that seem to not have any scent at all!
Aside from the flowers, our veg garden will need to take shape this year. We are planning on adding raised veg beds to the back of the garden that will be near to the two apple trees, plum and greengage that we planted in January. I would love to maybe add a thornless blackberry here in the future but we'll see if there's enough space! The fruit trees may take two to three years to mature so we're not expecting much, if any, this year but hopefully they'll get going next year. As for veg, we plan to grow crops we're familiar with such as french and runner beans, sugar snap peas, kale and courgettes. We'd also like to try growing sweetcorn this year, so that should be interesting to see if it does well. In pots we'll be growing radishes and salad leaves like mizuna and rocket.
Currently, the back garden has a concrete path in it that we are going to gravel over and we're also creating a herb garden in the middle part of the garden by lifting some of the concrete slabs and planting herbs within them. This should hopefully soften the hard landscaping and give us some Mediterranean herbs for cooking that like the free draining soil that this environment will provide.
I haven't even had time to mention the front garden and this is all suddenly feeling quite daunting! 😬 I realise that we're being quite ambitious with our plans, but if we don't achieve all of them this year, then hopefully, they'll get done next year!