I owe people a gazillion blog comments and emails. (I will get to it, just not right now, I'm all typed out.)
In any case, today I talked to a landscaper about the pretty pathetic mess that is my back garden, its potential, and the cost involved. And there's also the tiny detail of a huge pine that stands at the back of the garden and doesn't really fit there - I call it the "feral Christmas tree", because it looks a lot like somebody planted it there, oh, many years ago and now it dominates a part of the garden it has no reason and justification for dominating. Also, it ruins the soil in the back, killing everything around it. My partner wants it to stay, I want it to go. I foresee a direct conflict there (but, as long I get everything else I want, he can keep his tree, so at the very worst, it's a bargaining chip).
The landscaper walked around the garden with me and said that I was best off with a "clear canvas" approach. I totally agree. No plan or rhyme or reason to this garden as it currently stands, and I'm heartily sick of it, too.
The main issue is that I do have an expensive taste; this is a big project and will result in a really dramatic change, digging out soil, laying lots of natural stone, raised beds, all new flowers and plants, totally new grass and new fences all round. The plants will all be about the wildlife - I want something that feeds birds and butterflies and bees - so lots of flowers and probably an area for a bird feeder and stuff (I assume the grey squirrels will eat everything, but we can try).
I'm very intrigued by an option he brought up, that's a summer house - a self-sustained "shed" in the back of the garden we (I) could use as a second office. Ideally, it would have a reading/resting couch, a desk, a plug for a laptop, and no internet. This shit ain't cheap, but I want it. Mostly because the internet is a real drain on my productivity, and sitting outside surrounded by green stuff in the summer sounds like sheer heaven. And I can just see the possibilities for such a space. (Or something.)
We do have this really long garden we're not actually using - so placing a work-focused space out there seems like the way to go.
But with all the possibilities, I'm going for the Expensive Option. Considering that in the last six months, we had double glazing put in, replaced the boiler and remodelled the front garden, I think I just broke our budget with all my habitual (that is, habitat-related) ambition. So, err, stepping slowly back from the idea of having everything done up as I want it this year, and do it in steps.
Sandstone porch first (with bonsai display area, for which, obviously, I'll need to buy a few bonsais, too, but then, I've been dreaming about maple bonsais for a long, long time), new fences second, clearing some of the feral plants for the rest of our budget, and then crazy ideas like raised vegetable/flower beds and summer house and a total re-do of the vegetation next year. (And those involve camellias and climbing roses EVERYWHERE - bring on the flowers and colours and LIFE!) Also, we'll need garden furniture... which, holy hell, expensive.
I know it's going to be absolutely awesome, but I'm not going to bankrupt myself over a garden. As long as I get my porch soon-ish, I'll be still happy. I do want to spend part of the summer sitting in the garden, editing manuscripts. Step by step, this is becoming *mine*.
(Photos as it happens...)