As a mum over 40 I remember the days when I spent more time outside than inside as a tot. We didn’t have the new technologies there are today that have allowed schoolchildren the stimulation that was once experienced in the great outdoors.
The best memories of growing up and of primary school for me were pottering about in my gran’s garden, making daisy-chains on the grass of the school playing field, listening to stories outdoors and going on trips down by the riverside to increase environmental awareness.
At home we’d make rose petal perfume in the garden, were happy playing with snapdragon flowers and hunting and bottling ladybugs and caterpillars (which we let go of course). It was a simple pit village existence, but one that addressed the benefits and importance of having plenty of green space.
So when we moved home, the ‘Titchmarsh Effect’ took hold of me (blame the pregnancy hormones) and a private sunny garden at the rear of the house was a ‘must-have’ – if only to top up my vitamin D level.
You see we’d always had a back yard to sit out in at our old property and having spent a fortune on the house and the front garden, we couldn’t bring ourselves to shell out any more of our hard-earned cash. This meant it was always cold, drab and needed more than a bit of TLC to bring it back to life. I tried for hours one day to spruce it up a little by white-washing the walls, but it was still grim.
We were perhaps a little over ambitious with the front when we planted a crop of Thuja trees to quickly create a screen. It gave us more privacy, secluded us from passers-by and traffic and created a tranquil setting.
It proved a hard day’s labour as hubby and I dug up the paving slabs and planted 40 trees, one by one.
Doing it all over again at the back of the house and having to lift more concrete was not something either of us wanted to do in a hurry. It left us envying friends who’d invested in lovely new homes with private gardens and fantastic views.
When we finally decided to move ourselves, hubby suggested going to see the property we eventually ended up buying. Having already viewed the online pictures, it was a straight ‘no’ from me. There was a huge garden, but no well manicured lawn or shrubs. In fact there was no grass at all.
I craved a green garden. One with large clumps of hostas, climbing roses and sweetly scented shrubs…even if I really wasn’t ready to grab my gardening gloves and start planting flowers in my final weeks of pregnancy!
Looking at the barren back garden of the property my husband had set his sights on, I could see that it represented a huge challenge/investment of both time and money – making it impossible to bring this space to life overnight…or even over a few months.
It did represent a blank canvas though and there was plenty of space for a vegetable garden, herb garden and even a flower garden over time. It had growing potential…even if I wasn’t great at keeping houseplants alive, let alone those in the garden.
In the end, I compromised as we needed to put down our roots somewhere and it had ticked all the other boxes in terms of space and location. It also provided plenty of space for barbecue parties.Fast forward eight months later and we are still without a lawn or flourishing shrubs, but we do have the perfect pad to unwind and relax in.
We’ve planted a few shrubs outdoors, painted the decking and back gate and have a young oak tree to celebrate Cyrus’s birth. We’ve also had some excellent family time here so far and invested in a large kettle BBQ which we bought in the Clas Ohlson closing down sale for £35. A real bargain!
I have decided not to “go big” on the garden, but instead just to start it. It won’t be perfect. I will make mistakes. Some plants may live and some will inevitably be eaten by bugs, but I am going to start this garden and finish it once I return to work.
With a little bit of graft, some sunshine and luck, I hope to reap some bounty for our little family, get Cyrus digging in the future and get some fresh air while we are all exercising.