Shirley's getting a garden makeover

22:09, Nov 05 2012

The transformation of Shirley's garden is beginning to take some shape. When we moved in, Shirley's garden was just one of the agapanthus-riddled patches of dirt that screamed Help Me! Over that time, we've dug up the agapanthus, removed jasmine bit by bit, dug out ornamental cherry stumps, let chickens go crazy in it, and now it's living a second life as home to a few of the original ornamentals, and as a kitchen garden.

Shirley's garden is pretty unique at our place because it gets reasonable all-day sun all year long. We're on a slope away from the sun at the back of our house, so much of the backyard doesn't get sun during winter. My vegetable plots are at the bottom of the slope and get sun all year round, but only from late morning till night. Shirley's garden is also a prime spot because it seems to have better drainage than the back, which gets fairly boggy when it rains and rains and rains in winter, whereas Shirley's garden is on a slope and water drains off easily. So it made sense when my mother, in one of her customary walks around the garden when she stays with us, nutted out that if we trimmed back some trees and put paid to the jasmine, we could get a lot more use out of Shirley's garden.

Since Joe dug out the last cherry stump and I went to Melbourne a month ago, Shirley's garden has been left a bit to her own devices. Sad bags of zoodoo have been waiting patiently for me to rip them open, a paddling pool full of old roots sat being repeatedly filled with rainwater, and not much happened. On Sunday I got really stuck into it. Some peas I sowed along the fence last month needed help grasping the plastic trellis (another remnant of Shirley - she used it to espalier the jasmine many years ago) that I had nailed to the fence for it to climb. I tenderly tied their little stems to the trellis. The spuds - nine healthy and prolific agria plants - needed to be mounded up. I ripped open the zoodoo and dug it in with some gypsum and lime to get the soil ready for whatever inspires me next.

And then I really got carried away - out came the courgette plants I have been hardening up over the past week. I dug two holes, filled them with seaweed and nettle slush from a batch of tea I've just finished, back-filled the holes so they formed two mounds, and planted in three courgette plants in each mound - one of organic black beauty, the other of gold zucchini. I forgot they will cross-pollinate, so I am expecting some interesting-looking courgettes...
Not content with that, I sowed a row of beans, even though I loathe them.

This is just the first stage of the plan for Shirley's garden. There's still a climbing rose with the trunk as thick as a tree's that needs to be moved, and paths to be put down. Then it will be a garden for the Trusty Assistant to use, to grow plants he wants, with nooks and crannies in it that he can explore.

Are you working on any major projects right now? Have you transformed any parts of your garden?

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