Sunday 25 March 2012

Real life stuff

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...)


  1. I would let the tree stay if I could have a house like that in my backyard as the trade-off... Here though I'd have to have a/c put in. Still! I have a huge backyard and would love something like back there. Hmmm...

  2. I have a 7-or-so foot high wall of azaleas under the inevitable pine trees along our property line/drainage ditch, and about a week ago it was *glorious*. We have nearly half an acre of land, at the end of the street, and I'd really love an outdoor area with a clawfoot tub and a shower and all surrounded by a trellis covered in viney flowery things. *sigh* Wet dreams... (The outdoor shower may actually become reality; DH tends to get VERY dirty year-round & I'd love to make him clean off before coming into the house & OMG it is HARD to type with a tiny puppy crashed out all over your arm. REALLY.) Dreams are a good thing to have, and it's good to have a goal! Hope you get your outdoor space exactly the way you like it. And vinegar is an excellent (green!) weed-killer.

  3. Good luck with making the beautiful happen. Would love to see your progress and the bonsai platforms ::sigh::. Good luck with the tree negotiations!

  4. Your plans sound fantastic. I'll need photos so I can live vicariously, as I don't have a garden at all.

  5. That sounds like a very worthy ambition to me. A friend has a summerhouse and I have spent many happy hours in it writing or painting while the others do strenuous stuff. Even in winter it can be nice with the addition of a heater. A space of ones own with something beautiful to look at during those thoughtful moments - it sounds like heaven.

  6. Oh my Aleks, reading your post just felt to me like I was listening to my kids talking about things they want, so exitement and imagination. One gotta love that! I truly hope you get what you want, I'm imagining a very beautiful picture in my head, can't wait for the photos. England has a certain beauty in her nature, something I can't see here. I'm surrounded by pine and olive trees and the see at the background. A bit different color canvas. Best of luck in your project Aleks. /hugs