Wheel barrow left out in the snow

Over the years we have had a love hate relationship with our larger than average garden. We like the space it provides and the birds and animals it shelters, but there is no point pretending we will ever have a well kept orderly outdoor space with manicured lawns and tidy borders. It comprises: lawns, or in reality patches of grass, with a single border of flowers; a pond, a wooded area, a gravel memorial garden, a vegetable plot, a greenhouse and an orchard (or what is left of it after it flooded). It is surrounded by fields.

Overgrown apple tree

Shortly after we started our vegetable garden about 30 years ago we planted two apple and two pear trees. They all continued to provide good crops through to the end of last year, when we reluctantly decided we needed to remove one of the old apple trees. The other apple tree is still in reasonably good shape but the pear trees have suffered from a combination of neglect, poor pruning and serious weather damage. Last year all the pears on one were cracked and both, for the first time, had pear rust. I am still trying to find the juniper trees which I understand host the fungus over winter.

flower border

It was always my intention to plant a low maintenance garden. Under the guidance of my mother - a much more experienced gardener than I, and someone who actually knows the names of the plants, I planted a few perennials and shrubs in the single border along my drive way and then left them too it. That was over 20 years ago.

Makeshift butterfly cage

Having so much land available it would be a shame not to grow some of our own fruit vegetables. The gardening programmes and magazines make it sound easy (subject to some hard digging and a bit of weeding) but each time we have tried we have struggled against our natural competitors. Occassionally we have succeeded but mostly the birds, slugs, snails and insects enjoy more of our labours than we do and I swear the weeds grow many times faster than the crops. As for the grass, it re-occupies the cleared spaces in the blink of an eye. 

Maybe one day we will have something we can write about in this section, after all weekend magazine gardeners manage to write a column a week. Who knows we may become experts in pest control and watering melons.

Dead tree

The garden directly to the front of the house is lawn, er well, OK, grass which stretches down to the pond. To the left the land rises sharply and there we planted an assortment of trees and ground cover shrubs. The intention was that it would be low maintenance, but that is not how it is in practice. Brambles and nettles run rampant. Battling them is exactly that, with scratches and stings to prove it.

For a number of reasons we neglected this area of the garden for a few years but have recently begun tackling it again, giving the Webmaster and excuse to buy a new chainsaw which he has been busy learning how to use.

Looking across the pond

Before the time when on-line activities took over from real life we spent a lot of time gardening. From when we first moved to Ladymoor Gate and began tackling the overgown parts of the garden and fighting to convert the grassed areas into lawn we had always wanted a pond. In 1999 when I was between jobs we decided it was a good time to begin. I expected to have at least three months before starting a new job, which should have been plenty of time. The pond building went to plan, but job hunting went much faster than expected and so finishing the pond was "outsourced" to my parents while I rejoined the ranks of the wage slaves.

Bleeding heart flowers blooming in Andy's garden

After Andy died on 21st May 2004, we decided that we needed to create some kind of memorial for him. We weren't sure what to do exactly but we were considering planting trees or plants somewhere in the fields or garden. We also considered some kind of monument, but were really unsure about what we were actually capable of doing. We also need somewhere to place his ashes.

 Towards the end of 2004, we were doing some garden tidying near the old gravel garden, which had become completely overgrown. After a couple of days hacking through the undergrowth, we reckoned that with a serious effort we could turn it into some kind of memorial garden.