#TheGallery 171 – Something Beautiful

It’s been a weird old year for weather so far.  Winter, whilst hammering the US and Canada, forcing my old boss to decide whether he needs to close the Dalhousie campus for a snow day, has largely bypassed the UK.  Thus far we’ve had a couple of hard frosts and that’s been about it.

But those frosts transform the landscape around you, bringing out the magical in the mundane.  My kids are fascinated by the grass, the fallen leaves, the patterns on the school railings.  My youngest was thrilled when I had to de-ice the car yesterday, laughing at the snow falling inside the car as I scraped the windscreen!

There’s a beautiful “Baston” sign at the heart of the village, a stone’s throw from the church and our house.  We walk past it to get to school.  My youngest was amazed to see the flowers blooming last week, yellows, reds and blues peeping out.  He was speechless when he saw these:

I couldn’t decide which made the better photo, so I give you all 3 instead.

One thing living on Shetland taught me was to enjoy the weather, whatever it brings.  Dress right, get out there and enjoy.  Sure, the weather down here Lincolnshire is a lot tamer, there’s less of the “is the house going to blow away” and “is that your trampoline flying off to Norway”? winds and more of “oh, it’s a bit nippy today, might need a coat” mildness but still. Gear up, get out, enjoy.  You’d be amazed how much gardening you can get done.

The story so far…

In the beginning, the garden looked like this:

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Actually, that wasn’t quite the beginning.  Rewind a little further, lose the step that shows we’re actively working on it and it looked more like this:

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That’s more like it.  I took this shot from as far down the garden as I could get.  Right behind me was this:

IMG_20131130_153017What you’ve got here is a very sophisticated Buddleja scaffolding holding up over a decade’s worth of brambles.  There’s a back wall in there somewhere, far, far away.

Now, fast-forward to now.  We’ve had a few weekends (and the odd day) concentrated working on the garden. We’ve put in a shed, cleared bag* after bag* of ivy, brambles, buddleja and assorted garden crap.  We’re nowhere near finished, but we’ve made a start…

We’ve made a start on the herb garden, the fruit trees are here and ready to be planted as soon as I’ve collected another bag* of horse manure.

The next step – the next step – is chickens.  Then a yurt.

Ever wish you’d never started something?

*Bag – 1 cubic metre, or thereabouts.

Amazing what you discover when you start looking!

wpid-IMG_20140111_110457.jpgSmall boys and worms! What’s better than that?  Dirty hands and smiling faces.  That feeling you get when you’ve worked damn hard and achieved something.  Something you can look at and be proud of.

Since we started work on this garden we’ve discovered brambles, nettles, overgrown hedging, more ivy than you could possibly imagine and assorted bits of ex-gardening equipment left behind by previous voyagers into Bramble Corner.  No bodies yet…

We’re turning it around – and it is we who are doing it.  This isn’t just mum and dad in the garden while the kids are on the PS3 playing Rayman Legends (mostly) cooperatively.  Well, alright, sometimes it is.  But for the best part of it, it isn’t.

When I was growing up we had a long, thin garden stretching away from the back of our terrace house in Ripon.  Right down the end of that garden, absolutely miles away from the house* was our den.

*probably only 30 yards or so but it felt like miles!

The den was built around the base of one of the trees using whatever spare wood we had.  It wasn’t great but it was a place to hide and play whatever games we wanted.  Don’t know how many bits of Lego and Star Wars figures we lost down there!

When we saw just how big our garden was (after removing the brambles, the buddleia that was acting as scaffolding for the brambles and a metric crapload of ivy, the kids spotted their den site.  It’s around the base of a holly tree, they’ve used a load of the spare wood to build up the walls and used leftover ivy (‘cos we didn’t have enough of that) to camouflage it.  They’ve been racing around playing Avengers games, Dr Who games, Harry Potter games, and occasionally helping us by filling a barrow or dragging some stuff around.

Thing1 has helped getting rid of the nettles and ivy from behind the shed – we’re going to set off strawberries at one end, mint at the other, let plant-based carnage ensue!

We’ve discovered the area of the garden we’re going to put the trampoline (where the fire pit is now).  The area we’re going to put the pool in the summer (need to trim the hedge a tad!) and the area we’re going to put the Yurt that’s going to act as guest accommodation, home office, gym and summerhouse.  Most importantly, we’ve discovered the area we’re going to put the chickens.