On the first Friday after we got the keys, I spent the day in the house taking down all of the old fittings with my Belgian father-in-law and protecting the original features with the Friday team. But on Saturday, well, the sun came out and wild horses couldn’t have kept me out of the garden! There’s a lot of work to do out there. Part of updating the electricity on the house is that we have to put down rods in the garden to earth it. That involves digging a trench on our path and pushing 2m copper rods into the ground. On top of that, the existing garden has to be divided into two plots, ours and the downstairs neighbours. There were a few large bushes in the path, one the size of a tree, so we had to take them out. This is already quite a lot of work before I start clearing all the junk left by the former owners in the cabins at the back. The cabins themselves are in a terrible state. They are falling down and dangerous.
Once all of this work is done, then the real fun starts.
This is my draft garden plan (please excuse the quality of the image, I finished this at night) and I’ve been putting together a Pinterest board with ideas, but the overarching idea is to eventually create an Alice in Wonderland-style space, with riotous colours and small surprises. I want tall flower banks and hidings spaces under hanging vines, fairy homes in trees a birdhouses galore! There will also be a kitchen garden with veg to feed us and perhaps even a few chickens! We’re both vegetarian, so the chickens will be for eggs rather than eating. The Belgian abhorrs the idea of killing an animal and although I’m not so put off by the idea if it’s for my own consumption, I am really afraid of birds!! I got chased by a goose only just this weekend! Seriously, what is it with agressive birds?! So I don’t think I could bring myself to catch the chicken to kill it! I could ask my grandmother to come on a visit. I have memories of her killing and preparing chickens on their small household farm when we were children. She’s a very practical woman. Not at all afraid of birds…
The sheds at the bottom of the garden are so full of junk, it’s going to take a long time to clean that up.
All of this will take years to put together, but I’m very much looking forward to it. Honestly, I knew that I really liked the idea of having my own garden, but I had no idea how much. I don’t mind telling you that there were moments on Saturday when I just stood looking around and listening to birds and dogs, no traffic, no street noise, with tears in my eyes. I was so absolutely, blissfully happy. The feeling was even better for being so unexpected! I love the physicality of it, the smell of the earth, the open sky, the roughness of the bark on my hands, everything…
During the last week, while tearing down walls inside the house to make doors, I kept some of the beautiful red bricks from the walls to work use to build a garden path. I had a quick read about building a good garden path and I think it should be manageable on my own after the teams have finished the main work on the house.
Later in the year, or perhaps even early next year, I’ll ask my Dad to come over from Ireland to help me build a green house. I’ve been dreaming about this green house ever since I was a small girl and spent time with my grandmother in her geranium and tomato-filled greenhouse. Even today the smell of tomatoes on the vine in the supermarket transports me immediately back to that warm place in the sun with my grandmother pottering about with compost and seedlings. My father has built a few over the years, including one from recycled old windows. I’ve been keeping all of the glass that we don’t use in the house and all of the windows from my neighbour’s renovations for that purpose.
Before all of this though, we have to first make the apartment liveable… We’ve been working so hard but there’s still so much to do. Phew! We both realised this week, that had we known before we started the sheer volume of work and unknowns involved, we’re not sure we would have started! Lucky we didn’t know then!!