Tuesday, 7 May 2013

My final stab at growing plants in my garden

I have the tiniest courtyard garden imaginable. I'm not complaining mind you. To have outside space at all in the middle of London is a blessing. However it very hard to know what to DO with it to make the most of it and, at the risk of going twee, make it that 'outdoor' room that people keep talking about. I am also fighting a proliferation of slugs. Not just any slugs mind you. Slugs who wear safari hats and come inside the kitchen in search of adventure.

In addition to all this it is a north face garden so there is little hope of much growing successfully due to the lack of sun. This has not stopped my trying though. I have wasted a fortune in the past as I trot down to Homebase and rush back to plant my purchases only to watch them succumb to slug suppers, grow stringy in the hunt for sun and eventually die. I will admit that my ad-hoc approach to watering the plants in their pots probably hasn't helped.

This weekend I determined to solve the problem and make it work. It started badly with the discovery that the honeysuckle, the one glorious plant that actually grew prolifically all over the back wall, is almost dead. This did take a bit of an edge off my enthusiasm. I gloomily cut all the dead wood off and left anything with a  hint of green in a vaguely optimistic hope that it will spring into life next year.

 Is there any hope?

Staring at a load of pots with dead plants and  lively weeds in them I remembered a photo I'd seen on Pintrest of a rather irritatingly perfect stack of pots. As wonky is what works for me I decided to pile the very mismatched pots on top of each other in the one part of the garden with regularish sun to make a planter with a bit of height, do something with the pots and hopefully get as much greenery into a small space as possible. A few pots of herbs from Morrisons (£1 each, can't go too wrong as if they look a little droopy we'll eat them!) and voila.

Garden somewhat less crowded I decided to try for one final time to plant two shrubs in the two remaining mini beds in the cobbles. A little google to have a clue what to look for what might grow in a shady garden and a trip to Columbia Road market. I love and hate Columbia Road in equal measure. I adore the slightly bonkers collection of shops, love the street market with its proliferation of plants being sold at bargain prices. HATE the people. It is just too crowded to choose properly and half the time you are just standing still in a crowd, desperately trying to get out. I ended up with a bleeding heart and a camellia. (I suspect I was conned when I asked if would be ok in shade!) However I spent £15 for both, funded by putting a few of the pots on gumtree, so can't complain.

Back home this was the point when the magic happened. Both plants planted I realised I needed to move the table and chairs to allow the camellia to have a hope of getting sun. I moved my bike to under the kitchen window and put the table and chairs where the bike was. Suddenly the garden looked huge and more like a place to sit in. Yes the plants need to grow and in many ways it is a little bare but I can see something rather lovely evolving over time.

The only way to finish the weekend was with the first barbeque of the year, slightly charred bangers, peppers and aubergine all washed down with cider.

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