Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Flexing my green thumb

It's a little known fact that when you buy a house with a garden, all of a sudden that garden becomes a Big Deal. Two years ago I would never have dreamed that I would spend hours at a time weeding, pruning, watering, feeding, planning and generally gardening!

The front

To keep up appearances, I kept the front looking pretty good...

This photo is from the real estate listing:

Unfortunately that little patch of grass didn't stay looking that good - it pretty much died and turned into a bare patch of earth. So we decided to turn the whole thing into a garden bed:

Shortly after planting (back in March of 2011):

We planted:
  • Purple Agapanthas from my mother's garden
  • A low growing plant with purple flowers from my parents' neighbour's garden (left photo, closest to the concrete pathway)
  • Geraniums/pelargoniums galore from my mother's garden
  • Gazanias lining the concrete of the driveway - there were originally in the flower bed and we pulled them up and divided them. They grow so easily.
  • Succulents and cactii in the other flower bed and a fern from my mother's garden
The pink rose bush in the background (in the little concrete flower bed) is the border of my front garden and the neighbours'.

This is how the front is looking today (excuse the quality of the photos - I used my iPhone in fading light, but I wanted to get them to finish this post!):

The agapanthas have flowered and the geraniums are going gangbusters. I continually have to cut them down as they're getting bigger than the agapanthas. As you can see the gazanias have also exploded - during the day their flowers open and they look so cheerful!

I'm still not totally happy with it - I am really envisaging something very lush, so will keep dividing plants and filling in the gaps.

The back

The back garden is a long narrow space that I'm still grappling with in terms of how to best use it...

This is what it looked like in December 2010 (a few weeks after I moved in):

During the settlement period the weeds had taken over and it was not a pretty sight! As you come out of the back door, you come down about 4 steps and to your right is this view. The washing line was full of spiders (eek!) and blocked the rest of the space. You had to duck under it to get to the rest of the back garden, which was also blocked off by two trees.

Since I never used the washing line outside (I usually just have a clothes-horse inside), I decided to get rid of the washing line. My brother came over with an angle grinder and we cut that baby down! 

Then we tackled the tree issue - although I hate to get rid of a tree, the space was really too small to handle two trees. So I decided to cut down the first tree - the one that was most 'in the middle' and therefore most in the way. Again, my bro came to the rescue and we pulled, sawed and cut that poor tree down. It then lay on it's side for MONTHS whilst I figured out how to get rid of a tree...(I wasn't up for paying anybody to remove it).

I'm embarrassed to say that after that, I pretty much ignored the back for almost a year. Yes, I can't believe it either. Well not quite - I bought some pots and planted some seedlings - more about that later. So, fast forward to December 2011 and this is what I faced:

This is the view from the back door. A small section of the back fence was recently replaced and that big dark patch on the left is all the debris that was left behind, blocking the drain. (And that's not a roll of toilet paper, it's a roll of rubbish bags).

You can see the older fence on the right (replaced about 2 years ago I think) and the newer fence on the left. Hopefully over time it will weather to a similar colour as the older section, otherwise I might need to paint the whole fence to disguise the difference.

Welcome to the jungle! Dead tree on the right, and re-grown tree behind it! Whoops - I learned you need to drill holes in the stump and pour kerosene or poison into it to kill it.

Behind the re-born tree is even more of a jungle - grass growing to about waist-height, although it had been raining so it was all bent over from the weight of the water. Elephant-ear in the pot is also courtesy of my momma.

Part of the motivation to get this situation under control was that I was hosting a Christmas/housewarming barbecue! So I tackled the back one humid Sunday and cut back all the new growth from the tree stump, pulled out all the grass and weeds, and discovered a lovely little space!

That pile of grass and weeds on the left is only half of what I pulled out! I also tried breaking the dead tree into smaller bits (a bit easier now that the wood was dried out) and put as much as I could fit into the green bin. I filled another three rubbish bags with grass and weeds, and moved the last bits of the dried tree right to the back corner. I've still got to work out how to get rid of the bigger pieces...

And drum-roll's the after (for the moment at least):

I've got all sorts of ideas about what to do with this space, although the narrowness is definitely a challenge. I'm working on a moodboard/design post but I'm still trying to sort through all my ideas...

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