Reclaiming my Garden

I like before and after stories…. they are a record of our achievements, a chart of our progress – and thus an inspiration to continue to try and reach our goals…

I love beautiful gardens…I bought our current house, I am sure, because I fell in love with the garden. The little house we are in is on a 2000 metre block. Half the garden is bush and fruit trees, the other half is (was) beautiful English style gardens. The people we bought the house off were diligent gardeners (My neighbour tells us the reason they got out of bed in the morning was to pick the next weed), the lawns were immaculate and looked like bowling greens, the plants pruned and pampered. Sadly I do not come near their standard! Also the garden was watered via a pump from the local creek and I don’t think they ever took any notice of water restrictions.
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This is our garden when we bought the house…can assure you it doesn’t have a bowling green for a lawn any more…
I did say I loved beautiful gardens, but I don’t necessarily like the hard work involved! And I don’t really have a green thumb. I have lots of gardening books and do my best but the garden has never looked the same. Also I tried to be more ‘water wise’ and the grandfather rule that allowed you to have a pump in the creek expired when the pump did, so we have been just using hand moved sprinklers ever since. So all these factors meant after initially embracing my beautiful garden I became discouraged when things died due to my more prudent (read legal) watering regime and me working near full time. Extremely long hot summers and lack of motivation meant my garden struggled….
When I went to Europe I saw some beautiful gardens. Monet’s Garden, even on a hot day was just beautiful.

This is Monet’s Garden…. I doubt I can get a pond like that but surely I can have some nice flowers?

Then travelling down the Rhine, I fell in love with the window boxes. Everywhere you went were magnificent colourful boxes of flowers. So many cities were just a riot of colour.

The floating flower markets in Amsterdam were just amazing…. and the window boxes in Germany and some of the city gardens were beautiful…

Then in Slovakia we did a home visit and a little Russian lady showed us her vege garden that was filled with every sort of edible plant using every corner of her long yard. I noticed she had a small corner (about a square metre) filled with Gladioli – which was her one concession to the need to feed her family.

A Backyard vege garden in Slovakia…

So I came home inspired to reclaim my beautiful garden. It may never reach its former glory but it can be better than the neglected place it has been recently. While we were away the grass had grown everywhere so we needed it all whipper snippered before I could even begin.
Sadly I dont have any before photos…but I have taken photos to plot my progress… I decided that every day I had to do something in the garden – and almost every day I have managed to do that. I find once I make these determinations I get a really anxious feeling if I dont stick to these plans. So my ‘One Bite at a Time’ philosophy does work – even with gardens that look like a jungle! And it is odd that altho I am a procrastinator, if I have started a project I really do stick to doing something every day. Even if it is only ten minutes I do it. And until I do it each day I am anxious about getting it done – I can see my obsessive compulsive tendencies coming out!

I have a self imposed ban on certain Hardware and garden nursery stores. I tend to buy far too much stuff there – including plants that I let die. I do have a soft spot for pot plants so I have quite a collection. And who can resist some of those beautiful planters? Anyway I have had to lift this ban so that I could fix up my garden. But I have tried to be sensible and only buy what I need and generally I have been fairly good – just a few minor transgretions….

So motivated to reclaim my garden I started at what I thought was the easiest part. The pot plants on one of my verandahs. I have thrown out a lot of plants that really werent that flash (yes actually thrown them out), repotted everything, tidied everything up and moved all the emply pots nd pots where plants have died to my newly claimed potting table. I held a survey of people who used the verandah (my husband) and asked what needed to be done to encourage him (and me) to sit out there more often. When we bought the house I fell in love with the verandah and imagined sitting out there with cups of coffee – which of course hs rarely happened – so a survey was important. We tidied up the table so newspapers could fit (instead of pot plants) and tarted up the couch so it looked more inviting to laze about on. So mission accomplished…
My newly tidied verandah with an inviting (I hope) couch and a breakfast table…
I used to have a vege garden but that had been neglected for years. I decided with raised garden beds it was easier for me to manage – and out of the reach of chooks and ducks. So I ordered two new raised garden beds. They have taken ages to fill as they are quite deep. All the whipper snippered grass has gone in there, all the pot plants that have died and the pots sat there with potting mix in it – and layers and layers of my own rabbit poo mixed with hemp bedding (beautiful compost). I hope to be able to plant them soon – just waiting for the bunnies to produce a bit more poo! My garden bed that I started before I went on holiday has just produced its first lettuce feed – and eating your own produce is great motivation!
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The last week or so I have been working on a small garden bed along the drive way… overgrown with lavender and self sown hollyhocks (dont you love Hollyhocks? They always remind me of my Grandpa as he always had them in his garden).
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My Wisteria has turned into the man eating plant out of the ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ this year and is galloping over an archway. The area underneath reminded me of my Mums shadehouse where she kept her potplants. Out on the farm with limited water her shadehouse was under the high tank stand, with tamarask tree lashed around the outside and this giant orange creeper that grew over the entire tankstand. It was cool and shaded inside and this area felt the same…. So I have tidied it all up, bought some new plants to go in pots under there (yes I am addicted to buying plants online – did I mention that before?) and t now looks lovely and inviting….
My lovely Wisteria shadehouse and a climbing rose at the top. A herb and lettuce garden and some of my geraniums I have potted up (with a couple of ducks in the background ready to swoop for snails)…
When potting up my many potplants I took a lot of Geranium cuttings….. Several of my friends also collect Geraniums so we are doing a bit of a swap meet in the future….
Thats the progress so far – still have a few more areas to go but it is slowly taking shape. I want to finish the main lot of work before the real heat hits as I now I will lose motivation once summer arrives…
Looking again now at my photos when travelling inspires me again to reclaim my garden…. I will update you in the future when I have done some more…

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