Cottage Garden Project Update: May 2016

Cottage Garden Project update May 2016
Very different to the last time we posted a pic…

At last! After a few months of not much to report, we have something to talk about on the Cottage Garden Project front.

Planning

Jo (project lead, chief plantswoman) and I (general dogsbody, occasional suggestions) have spent a fair bit of time chatting ideas back and forth and have come to a general consensus. We know what the general shape of the garden will be, thanks to the advice we got from Joan Mulvenna back in January: a seating area near the house, with a gravel section between the house and shed, and a gravel path leading from the seating area down to the utility area behind the shed.

The path will bisect the garden and create two distinct planting areas: on one side, nearer the fence-line, where sunshine is at something of a premium, we’re going to establish a cool, relaxing, shade-friendly planting scheme. Lots of woodland plants in the shadiest parts of the garden and then traditional cottage garden style, with lots of height, soft frothy foliage, and flower colours in shades of soft pastel, whites etc.

On the other side, we’ll up the energy and tempo a bit, with some stronger (but not too bright) colours and more sun-loving plants, as that side of the garden will get a lot more of the daylight, particularly in the heat of a summer’s afternoon (if the hotter days of this month are anything to go by). We’ll also have a few linking plants or base tones, to provide a bit of coherence, and a quite literal link in the form of an arch across the path with mixed climbers meeting and subtly mingling the two colour schemes.

The gravel area outside the back door will be for potted plants: dwarf fruit trees, herbs, flowers, shrubs, bulbs, you name it.

That’s the general plan, anyhow. First, there’s the not-so-small matter of:

Landscaping

The big decision we’ve taken here is that, rather than bringing someone in, I’m going to do the bulk of the hard landscaping myself. Two reasons for doing so: firstly, so save on the cost of hiring a landscaper, meaning we have more budget available for the materials we want to use. Secondly, it will be good practice for me. My long-term goal is to move to a career in horticulture, and hopefully this sort of project will provide the sort of experience that a potential employer might find relevant.

The first big step forward was taken on Bank Holiday Monday, when the old garage was demolished and the ugly-ass concrete crazy paving patio lifted and removed…

May 2016 - The old garage
Before: concrete monstrosity.
May 2016 patio area
Before: ugly-ass concrete crazy paving

…revealing a lot of builders’ sand, rife with roots from the neighbours’ trees (ripping those out is a quick addition to the job list) and a concrete plinth, ready for the delivery of our new super-shed:

May 2016 garage gone
After: lots of builders’ sand and tree root
May 2016 - garage demolished
After: garage gone, ready for shed

We’ve also started researching and/or ordering materials for the landscaping: Indian sandstone for the seating platform plus assorted steps and stepping stones, a balustrade railing to surround it, a few tonnes of gravel for the pathways, trellis panels, and an arch for the planting area.

We’ve also had a think about the path and bed edging. We were going to use plain gravel board, but decided that would end up looking rather dull and utilitarian. Instead, we searched around a bit and found a supplier of something a lot more attractive and (hopefully) hard-wearing. More on that in a future update.

The actual work is going to have to wait though. I have Level Two RHS exams to prep for in mid-June, so nothing will be occurring until they’re done and dusted. Then I’ll roll up my sleeves and get cracking.

Floral Display

Everything is in a state of flux at the moment, with plants in pots being moved here, thither and yon to get them out of the way of the outgoing garage and incoming shed, so there’s nothing much in the way of a permanent display. We’ll have some photos to show once we actually start getting something in the ground.

Right, that’s it for this month. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to nip outside and see how the construction of new shed is coming along…

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