2012: a Woman v Wild retrospective
It seems I've been in the garden every weekend this year. My life has actually started to revolve around getting my hands in the soil. I crave it, I feel as though I'm wasting my life if I'm inside, away from the plants. On sunny days when I'm at the office, I long for the feel of grass under my toes, and the smell of my tool box. I come home and potter about, watering this and weeding that. I love to pinch the laterals from my tomato plants on sunny evenings. The smell on my hands is heaven.
In among all the pottering, the garden this year has been transformed with the help of some big projects, and with the help of other people who have been able to see my vision for this place.
These projects have had the biggest impact:
1. Building my berry bed - March
I went from two garden beds to three. Today the berry bed is home to two raspberry plants and their offpsring - their suckers are taking over the world - two blueberry bushes which I check daily for ripe fruit, and a blackcurrant which is still in its infancy.
The berry bed was quickly followed by an identical bed beside it - which is home to corn and sunflowers and beans, but will become our asparagus patch in winter.
2. Tidied up Shirley's garden: August - ongoing
My sister, my nephew, the Trusty Assistant and I got stuck in and took out 20 years' worth of jasmine, ivy and all sorts of other nasties. Then Joe got stuck in and dug out some tree roots to open up the space. Today, along with the original lavenders, one remaining rhodo, a daphne, and some pelargoniums that are threatening to take over the world, the garden is home to courgettes, beans, sugar snaps, spuds, and a Meyer lemon tree. Come winter, it will be my onion patch, among other things.
3. Had the trees trimmed on the north side: October
My mum hired some professionals to trim the scrappy trees that were hanging over the house on our narrow north-facing boundary which were keeping the house shady on the sunniest side. Now the house, and narrow garden, is showered with light. We've since put a wee retaining wall along the path on the right-hand side and are backfilling it with anything we can get our hands on to level it off a bit.
Like Shirley's garden, this patch had once been well loved, but in recent years was left to become weedy and overgrown. My mum got stuck in with the loppers and pruned back the neighbour's shrubs and bay tree to open up the strip for cultivation. We kept a lovely hydrangea - the only plant worth keeping - and I planted it out in strawberries after adding horse poo, autumn leaves, coffee grounds, and seaweed to the soil. The strawberries are doing quite nicely, thank you.
5. Got rid of the chooks: October
The best thing I did for my garden this year was to rehome the chickens. I loved those chooks at first, then they became a source of stress, and my garden suffered for it. They cost me my garlic crop, two blueberry bushes, a lavender I'd propagated by cutting, and many other plants. Marginally tastier eggs just aren't worth that, and I'm so pleased we can claim the flat land they were taking up as a picnic and play area. I've replaced their valuable chook poo in the compost heap with sheep and horse poo from friendly farmers.
Which projects have you done in the garden that have had the biggest impact?
Thanks so much for reading Woman V Wild this year, and for all your comments, emails, Facebook messages and support. I've learnt so much from our conversations.
All the best for Christmas and New Year, and I'll be back on January 7 with more tales from Wild Estate and beyond. Happy gardening! Kimberley