Working With New Garden Structure; The Pergola Is Up.

So in my last blog we made the decision to give the fake grass a wide birth and went for the more back braking option of lifting a relatively large driveway in order to make room for some of the real deal.  The week after that the pergola began to be built, and we got our first glimpse of what this space could end up feeling like.

It’s now been two weeks since the structure has been in place and I’m starting to get a feel for the space that it has created.  It seems odd to say, but I’m finding having this new structure to be a little bit like when you get a new house and are not quite sure where to hang your pictures. Things I thought I was sure about, I am now second guessing.  I’ve decided to give myself another few weeks to get used to the space before committing to any further moves with the over all plan. 

The dining area I am more or less happy with, although I do have a rectangular dining table to bring to the space later this week, which will work far better with the shape of the area and give us the room we need for family visiting etc.


The central space is currently a muddle, perhaps even a dumping area.  This is basically because we are in two minds as to what direction to take it in. I’m seeing a living wall along the rear end of it that will host our salad leaves, herbs and spices followed by white stones and a water feature creating a sort of zen area. The other half sees a massive hot tub.  We’ll have to see how this one pans out!

Laughingly referred to as the ‘gin terrace’, this space gets the last of the evening sun and so I want to have quite a cozy area for that certain time of the evening.  You may be spotting a trend with the furniture by now.  I’m a bit bamboo crazy.  On this set, which I got for the bargainous price of £20.00, I plan to stain the bamboo the same shade as the pergola and recover the seats in some kind of, yet to be discovered, jungle fabric.  Watch this space on that one!


The grass seems to have settled in well.  We are on to our third week with it and there are no significant areas to panic about that I can see.  It seems to be draining away just fine when we have heavy rain, so that’s a relief.

In terms of planting so far all I have done is to purchase a phormium ‘gold sword'(10 years old and only £16.00 second hand!), and bring my Chinese windmill plant, and eucalyptus round from the front garden. Otherwise, I am living with the space and holding fire with committing to where new greenery, and planters should go.  It’s likely that the plants you see in tubs currently, apart from the twisted hazel and central one yet to be clad in metal will be removed to another area.

Coming from the car park that we had when this project began It’s difficult to imagine that this is the same space. I hope that by mid summer this same picture will be framed by the giant frond leaves of banana trees, and the vibrancy of that fence will be broken up by some of the vigorous climbers that I am cultivating in the polytunnel at the moment.


What do you think then? Hot tub or zen garden?  Yes or no to bamboo furniture? Yes or no in general?  I love being able to check in from time to time with these blogs and get your opinions. Next time I check in with you, I’ll be looking specifically at creating the right planting in those massive raised beds that I created.

The Fence Is Up! The Work Has Begun

Well it has been a long time coming, but finally last weekend we defined the boundaries of our garden area and were quite surprised to see that it was significantly larger than we had ever thought or prepared for.  In total in measures 70 square metres.


In an ideal world, this feather edged fencing would have been a breeze block wall rendered in a light duck egg blue, staggered to create shadows as the sun moves round.  In a ideal world I would be rich; I’m working on that – check out the stock we have for sale currently!


I resolved in the end that it’s not the medium you use to create your boundaries, but what you then do to pull the look together.  Speaking of which, what the absolute hell was I going to do with an area 10 metres by 7?  The largest space I had contended with previously was postage stamp sized. Now I was dealing with a vast empty terrain to the back of the property, an allotment to the side and 48 square metre front garden also chucked into the mix.


My main plan has always been, as you know, to go all MCM on it’s ass. But after much taking of advice, deliberating cogitating and digesting, something didn’t sit well with this notion to me and I couldn’t put my finger on why. It did take a few months of mulling it over for me to put my finger on it. Finally it did click; all my research into this project pointed towards the same main themes in MCM gardens.  They were covered in clean lines, minimalism, stark – sometimes almost brutalist – features and a ‘less is more’ approach to planting.  

 Fabulous.  Not me, but fabulous.
Fabulous.  Not me, but fabulous.


This isn’t me.  This isn’t what goes on in my brain.  What goes on in my brain is a bit more like walking through a ticker tape calvalcade of pyschadelic clowns with one person in the corner screaming for everyone to ‘try and keep it down’.  You can share my dilemma, I’m sure.  So how do I match my greatest love with the scratch and sniff of crazy that I really am underneath it all.  Well, like all good ideas, the answer came to me in the shower.  Jungle.  Mid century jungle!

 This image formed part of my inspiration for our final theme.
This image formed part of my inspiration for our final theme.


Hurrah.  Everything has slotted into place.  Like one big unbelievable game of Tetris. So I have split the garden into quadrangles to make it easier to deal with. Below I have shared my very naïve drawing of where I am going with it all now.  


Essentially, there is a tropical area directly outside the french windows from the kitchen filled with the likes of Musa Yunnanensis, Voodoo lily sauromatum vernosus, Alocasia calidora, Gunnera manicatia and Tibouchina urvilleana – for that utterly nuts jungle feeling.  Interspersed in this area there will be a wicker hanging chair, and some kind of marble table.  The flooring will be purple slate chips which will absorb the heat that we have throughout the day and release it throughout the night back to the warmth loving foliage. I want to raise the plants out of the ground so will use repurposed concrete drainage pipes in a nod back to those fabulous atomic age curves.


Next time, I’ll be looking at options for greenhouses.  As always, your comments are invaluable to me and how I perceive this operation!