Building a garden from scratch

Author: Cloudybutnice


One day while i was working in the picture gallery i’d started on a shoestring about ten years earlier i just decided i’d had enough of shopkeeping.

Sure, it’s a living if you do it reasonably well and have a bit of flair, and i did okay but i get bored easily doing the same things over-and-over.

And when it gets to the stage where it feels like your working life consists of spending eight hours a day just waiting for the next customer, then the next etc until the clock creeps around to 5.30, or you just make an excuse for leaving earlier, it’s really not much better than the hideous office job i had for years after leaving school.

I made my mind up i was just not having another 25 years of that, so a major change was on the cards.

The truth is, i’d always wanted to live in the countryside with a bit of land to call my own and the chance to “do my own thing” — in other words, be able to come out of my door without an audience — make a nice garden — play loud music — grow my own food. You get the idea.

Well, to cut a long story short, (selling our property turned into an epic that made Ben Hur look like a KFC commercial) five years later i found myself the proud owner of Ravendale House, a renovated 19th century cottage out-in-the-sticks. With a completely lawned front garden and a small field attached, about ¾ acre altogether, it was a blank canvas.

goodbye gallery hello ravendale house the house potted primulas

So it was that we arrived at Ravendale House. As you see the first instalment of our worldly goods consisted of our “potted garden” — 345 plant pots ranging from primroses to small trees.

potted various potted azaleas potted groundcover pots outside the front door

Here you can see what i mean by a “blank canvas”. This is the front garden — almost nothing but grass.

almost nothing but grass almost nothing but grass

laying out the front garden laying out the front garden laying out the front garden laying out the front garden

But within a couple of weeks i begin work on laying out the paved paths in the front garden, forming the lawn and digging out the flower beds. At last the majority of our 345 potted friends could be planted out.

Of course a project of this size has to be taken one step at a time so for the first year the field remained untouched with grass over 5 feet high which was sold to a local smallholder who cut and baled the hay to feed to his livestock.

cutting the hay baling the hay

In year two i took charge of the field with my state-of-the-art industrial-sized mower and began the process of repeatedly mowing the whole area to form a gigantic lawn, in readiness for laying out the fruit and vegetable gardens,

hay baled pea on a drum

bordered by an avenue of flowering cherry trees and an apple tree walk to my favorite bench. Finally the remaining area was planted with a selection of coniferous and deciduous trees.

vegetable garden vegetable garden and cherry trees

front garden after snow front garden after snow

The garden after an unexpected snowfall.

front garden after snow front garden after snow

As you can see the garden is beginning to mature and has benefited greatly from reducing by half the height of all the ancient hawthorn hedges. This has at the same time rejuvenated the hedge and made it much easier to maintain, as well as letting much more light into the front garden.

view from my bench summer perennials top of the field the house, looking west

The garden in summer

garage and new shed through the arch to my bench apple tree walk the old orchard

I hope you enjoyed your visit. Now the heavy work is done, my good lady wife will be taking over the everyday running of both the garden and this website, adding more updates and photos, so please remember to bookmark the site.

(back to the journal…)