One of the main reasons we bought our house was because it had an enormous back garden. The possibilities were endless, vegetable patches, a formal garden, building a garden room complete with running water and electricity, an orchard with a variety of fruit trees.
The reality was, hard work, time consuming and a relentless battle against nature.
Evidence of the garden’s previous life, popped up every spring, crocus, daffodils, snow drops an assortment of beautiful reminders that summer was on its way.
Moving sheds, digging up hedges, laying new patios and path ways. The hard landscaping was arduous but worth it. The new formal garden started to take on a new character, showing our preferences and inspirations. Building a row of raised beds to grow vegetables, which was easy to maintain from a wheelchair.
The new patio was very plain, until we built seating areas, using free pallet wood, enough seating for 10 – 12 people. Making cushions, choosing fabric to cover the cushions, then building a table from old sewing machine bases with recycled planks sanded to perfection and then varnished. Using old tiles, to provide a heat resistant centre piece.
To crown the seating area, we created an arbour, again using recycled wood, planting climbers to create some shade. Honeysuckle, passion flower, clematis and jasmine, not just a canopy but an experience in fragrance and beauty.
Planting masses of lavender along the newly laid path way. Giving the bees a treat and filling lavender bags endlessly. We removed two enormous cherry trees which had long since been giving any fruit to anyone other than the birds who then dropped the stones all over the patio.
But separated from the main half of the garden, the back end is nature taking over, like triffids. Growing up and over, through and between anything in its way. Until a chicken discovers the tasty green shoot and devours it greedily.
Overgrown, uneven, weeds everywhere. Not neat and tidy in anyone’s mind.
Home to insects, spiders, little frogs, hedgehogs and most importantly, chickens.
The patch of land quickly becomes sparse and bare earth, only nettles grow unhindered. The chooks investigate every inch, inquisitively.
We create a safe haven for them, fixing up fences, Heath Robinson style, to prevent their many attempts to escape. Before filling every gap and little hole, we would often get a call from the garage next door telling us that a chicken was strutting around on their forecourt. We thought that they were maybe trying to help sell the cars, or give the space some added interest, but they never received any commission.
In the summer, stretching out a canvas sail, across the corner of their pen to give them some shade. Making dust baths for them to help keep their feathers clean.
On Christmas day, they have a special treat of sprouts, still on the stem, hanging from the hen house windows. The rest of the year, they eat all our kitchen scraps and peelings, running at you when you enter their enclosure, like mad little dinosaurs, velociraptors.
509 Words – Sandy Bryson
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