Regular readers of the blog (and of a particularly lively comments page) will remember that a few weeks ago I caused minor consternation in benworld by announcing that the garden was going to be turning into the battle of the Somme… the diggers were moving in the next day. Charlie’s been on the case ever since, and I can’t imagine a luckier team than Mike and his men who have been served a daily diet of biscuits scones toasties tea and cake by the master baker (who we on Rugby Street got to experience during the heady crazy days of Charlie’s pop-up shop last autumn). The village has seen its own version of the great British Bake off these last few weeks.
I’ve hardly been in Dorset at all – trips to Worcestershire and a London weekend, and a pretty crazy couple of weeks of work, have put paid to that. I haven’t seen quite so much of the chaos, except on photos emailed to me by Charles. So arriving on Saturday afternoon (coming down from Nottingham, and our lovely project up there, where I’d been on the public consultation the day before) it was with minor trepidation that I walked into the garden for the first time in 2 or 3 weeks.
Some things hadn’t changed…
But if you glimpse carefully you can see an upturned wheelbarrow…. a sign of things to come. Some things don’t change… primroses coming out in their usual spot…
But others do. A few weeks ago this was the site of our dying golden laurel tree. Which is now going to become Charlie’s flowering shrub bank (for cutting branches).
All along the lawn beds is a low drystone wall, where once the bank tumbled into the flat grass. It’s extraordinary the spatial effect this low line of stone has had. The suggestion for these walls first came from our friend Kim Wilkie. How right he was.
The door to the sitting room is beautifully framed by Charlie’s new flower beds, which to be honest look as if they have been there for years.
One level down, the new long grass terrace is taking shape. At the lane end, is a new pair of gates that we found in a junk yard up in Worcestershire. Perfect to have a wider opening so that we can at long last dump a load of manure right by the veg garden, rather than wheelbarrowing everything from the very top of the garden down to the bottom, which has always felt like making a bad job worse.
Mike’s been having a fun time trying to level the terrace in all the rain, which has been little short of extreme these last few weeks, but plenty of sand seems to have done the trick.
When I first set out the veg garden whatever it was, seven or eight years ago now, we made the fence parallel to the boundary of the garden at the bottom – not parallel to the house. This time, we’ve straightened everything up. The old fence used to run tight to the brick path. Look at the change now. As a result we have some very funny triangular beds in the veg patch now, but somehow, they just work. And a lovely new rabbit proof fence… the badgers had been having a fun time with the last one.
The veg garden was looking beautiful in spring sunshine that felt warm, briefly, this morning.
Tulips are coming up everywhere.
Here’s the low stone wall at the foot of the new terrace.
I’m not quite sure what the police cone is doing but there you go.
The tulip border is going a little bit mad already. A bit too early, I might add. I hope there isn’t a crazy frost coming.
More tulips, and Fritillaria Imperialis, in pots, are hiding around the corner…
The old regency wirework arch has survived the cull. At one stage I think Charlie was eyeing it up for removal, but it is reprieved for now.
The snowdrops are in force at the foot of the beech tree, which always makes me very happy.
The stonework built by Paul, the dry stone waller, is absolutely beautifully done.
The apple trees down to the church gate..
The sense of space that comes from having the new long terrace running from one end of the garden to the other is amazing. The garden feels different… so much bigger.
Work in progress, but nearly complete. The next time I’m in Dorset, I think everything will be finished (as you can see, I’m an armchair spectator in this game). I can’t wait; we can’t wait. Spring feels like it’s on the brink of coming. And it’s never looked better.