This novice gardener's DREAM Garden
5 years ago my husband and I were lucky enough to be able to buy a slice of Welsh paradise.
5 acres of garden, to be precise.
In case you are wondering how big 5 acres may be, this might help:
1 Acre = the amount of land you can plow in a day with a pair of oxen. or 1 Acre = one furlong by one chain (and who knows what that means)
1 Acre = 43,560 square feet = 4046.8564 square metres
Of course in Wales I doubt you'd get an acre ploughed in a week, much less a day, not unless your oxen have mud-proof feet, but never mind. Just imagine a football field, and you are roughly there. At the time I thought: 5 acres? Is that really enough?
Fast forward 5 years and I can definitively say, YES, 5 acres is bloody well enough! If you are trying to hold down a job, and if you have dogs to walk twice a day, if you have to clean and cook, and you don't really have anyone to help you, and if you have no gardening skills, and if you have very few tools, and if you don't know how to use half the tools you have, YES it is enough! So this is what I achieved in the garden during the first 5 years: Year 1: In the first year I looked out at the front garden and desperately tried to conjure up a "vision" of the garden I wanted. Apparently this is a good thing: the idea is NOT to dig everything up immediately and just to watch what happens in the garden throughout the year. Year 2: In the second year I looked out the front garden and desperately tried to conjure up a "vision" of the garden I wanted. I also wondered why there seemed to be no flowers in the garden at all. And then I realised that pet sheep will eat EVERYTHING else in the garden before they will eat the grass. So the second year was spent fencing off chunks of the garden so that the pet sheep would revert back to their original role of live lawn-mowers, rather than live everythingbutthe lawn-mowers.
Year 3: In the third year I looked out the front garden and desperately tried to conjure up a "vision" of the garden I wanted. Just as I was beginning to despair over my absolute lack of creative spark, I met a whirlwind of a garden design expert called Helen Scutt. She taught me the most important lesson thus far:
That Rule No. 1 of successful gardening is that you must always WORK WITH THE LAND, NOT AGAINST IT. In Wales that really means: work with the clay, work with the bog, work with the endless rain, work with the mostly grey skies, work with the puddles, work with the ponds, work with the springs, grow to LOVE the rain.
Rule No. 2: DON"T BE AFRAID. Just get gardening.
And so I did.
5 years later progress has been very slow but there are the occasional successes, as well as quite a few epic failures (imagine planting 1000 crocuses in winter, only to discover, in spring, that 999 have been eaten by the local squirrels.)
5 years later I happened to hear of a Dutch man called Piet Oudolf. And then I fell in love with this Van Gogh of the gardening universe, and thanks to him now, finally, I have a vision of a Piet Oudolf inspired garden to rival all gardens this side of Carmarthenshire.
But more importantly, 5 years later I have caught the gardening bug. Big time.
So now, as I embark on Year 6 in the garden, my aim is to inspire other novice gardeners like me, and to share news of my failures and successes, and the lessons I learn, as I create my dream garden.
I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in the garden, and I hope you comment on what you see. But please be gentle; I have an ego that is as fragile as the flower of the Snake's Head Frittilary (one of my favourite flowers in the spring garden).