In the beginning…

It was June 1990 when we first viewed the 1938 bungalow within a ¼ acre plot
with a small front rose garden, divided in two by the front path, and the back
garden absolutely crammed full of vegetables.


as seen 1990
as seen 1990
By the time we moved in September 1990 the back garden was no longer full of greenery, but had only a row of Sweet William, a row of cabbages, some rhubarb and a few roses left in it.  We had no idea what to do with all this space!  Beyond the back wall is Duddingston golf course with its mature ‘listed’ trees and to either side we have our neighbours’ gardens.  We actually thought that the trees in the golf course had almost reached their full height and that it would be a fairly sunny garden so, on this assumption we discussed a very basic plan that included a lawn and flowering borders.
blank canvas what to do next?
The first compromise was the size of the borders.  I of course wanted
wide borders whereas my husband Harry didn’t. 
We demolished the single
garage and in its place built a double garage with a ramp running down the side into the garden (I am a wheelchair user).  We added a conservatory
which was initially just going to be a covered entrance to the garage.  All this reduced the size of the garden a bit.  We then re-sited the greenhouse, made a
lawn, knocked a hole in the back wall (to hide compost buckets and Comfrey feed bin behind wall) and put in a fairly narrow border.  Every visit we made to friends and neighbours was an opportunity to take cuttings and receive any plants that just happened to need dividing.
lawn and border and hole in back wall
greenhouse re-situated along with veg gardens
lawn and borders

The next compromise was the vegetable plot.  Harry wanted mostly potatoes and sweet corn, but I wanted to try just about every thing else, so we made ‘his’ and ‘hers’ vegetable plots! Friends used to come over to give me a hand with the veggie plot, but by now they were all having babies and babies
tend to take up a lot of time.  So we put in some paving so that I could get my wheelchair between the rows of vegetables and physically remove the caterpillars and other creatures doing the worst damage.  I had tried using a strong water jet to remove the blighters, but the caterpillars and slugs just made their way further inside the veg!  Additional paving also allowed me to harvest the peas, beans, leeks, courgettes and so on myself.  Two smaller raised beds were added for the blueberries and cranberries in order to keep these as acidic beds.  The trouble is; the more paving you have to allow access, the less area you have to plant.
By now we had decided it was going to be a wild life garden, with a large lawn for our two dogs, nephews and nieces with borders full of plants for birds and beneficial insects.  The effect I wanted to create was lush, green and relaxing with a mainly pink, mauve and purple colour palette.  What the garden now needed was a pond.  This time it wasn’t so much compromise as me getting my own way!  Harry wanted fish while I wanted frogs.  We obtained the
frog spawn from a stream running through the golf course and built a small wild life pond. Harry still gets a fright when working near the pond if a frog
suddenly plops into the water!
But, I was running out of planting space and I also wanted to create a more enclosed feeling in the garden, so we had a raised bed built in 1997.
This was not to be your average raised bed for alpines but more of a raised border (three borders really as it is vaguely triangular in shape) with shrubs, bulbs, perennials and lots of ferns.  By now it had dawned on us that the golf course trees were still growing, plunging our garden into shade by late afternoon, so, we made one side of the raised bed a ‘sunny border’ and the other two ‘shady woodland borders’.
raised bed
raised bed

It didn’t take long before I needed even more space for my ‘must have’ plants so in 2000 the tear-drop bed was created.  As I spend a lot of time just sitting by the pond contemplating, what was now required was a small area for
doing just that.  Only a couple of slabs were needed so I could get my wheelchair level and enough room for a small (tree stump) table for my coffee and a book, that’s all.  Although it would be nice if this area was just out of sight of the patio for a feeling of solitude, so, the tear-drop bed was
extended to provide more cover.
garden view
tear-drop bed extended
Over the years we have both learned a lot about gardening and wild life.  We have a lot of wild visitors to the garden and we have learned to share the raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples and plums with the squirrels and birds.  We forgive the foxes that dig up the bulbs and pull out some plants because they are such gorgeous creatures and it is such a pleasure to see them.  We learned to sow a few extra peas in the green house just in case the mice eat a few outside, and we just cut out the bits where the slugs and snails have damaged the courgettes.  The only beasties I squash are greenfly, vine
weevils and New Zealand flatworms.  Although we love our garden with hindsight there are a few things I wish we had done differently such as;
Levelled the ground properly before starting – although we used a roller the grass is stillvery uneven.
Sand blasted the white surrounding walls – red brick walls would have looked so much softer so I am trying to cover the white walls with ivy.
Wider borders with more room for the shrubs – we planted the shrubs far too close to the wall and to each other not realising just how big they would grow.
A bigger pond with a boggy area and none of the liner showing – I would love to have dragonflies visit the garden and would have liked to plant some boggy carnivorous planst.
Put the green house in a more sunny area – it only catches the sun between about 10am and 1pm where it is now.
Used something other than boring slabs for paths; slabs look awful, but I require a nice flat surface to push my chair on.  Bark would look much better but I don’t know how that would be to clear up the leaf fall from all the golf course trees.

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