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Fighting with the garden, not the architects

May 11, 2010

While Tom the architect was away on holiday, the plans were wrong and the budget was even more nerve-wracking than the prospect of giving birth for the first time. We felt as if the house renovation project had been taken out of our hands. It wasn’t a good time.

However, what did happen was that we became more determined to take the garden by its horticultural horns and really make that ours. Being able to fight with the overgrown jungle dissipated some of the frustration we felt about the house.

And so one Saturday morning (10 days before Hughie, our first child, was born), I sat drawing out our garden plans in a local cafe, The Crew Room, surrounded by fit, strapping rowers fresh off the river. As they tucked into well-deserved plates of bacon, eggs and towers of toasted bagels, sadly my enormous pregnancy proportions could only justify a glass of beetroot and carrot juice. And while I read the plant books, my husband wielded an electric chainsaw in our garden down the road. So it went from this:

To this:

We had decided that we needed to clear the entire jungle of weeds, brambles and rubbish before we could start planning what we wanted to do with the space. This spurt of determination and energy was also brought on by an episode of BBC Gardeners’ World in which gardener and designer Joe Swift showed viewers how to make walls out of rammed earth. This has really captured George’s imagination. Building dwellings using rammed earth techniques has been something countries in the third world have been doing with great skill for centuries. I’m not sure how successfully this is going to translate to our little urban garden in London, but I’m certainly not going to dampen George’s construction enthusiasm yet. In fact I even found a 2 day course on the subject on our website, so I could always send him on that.

The other brilliant incentive to get cracking with the garden project, as I said in an earlier post, is that I’ve been asked to write a monthly blog post about it for Stephanie Donaldson’s wonderful website The Enduring Gardener. Stephanie is a well-known author of countless gardening books and she is Gardens Editor of Country Living magazine. I’m thrilled to have been asked, and if this doesn’t make me pick up my secateurs and get stuck in, nothing will.

You can read my garden updates on Stephanie’s website by clicking here, and I’ll let you know on this blog when there are updates over the way.

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