YOU NEVER PLANTED ME A ROSE GARDEN.......
Well, actually you did.
In front of the utility room window and direcly on your left when you come down the garden path, we had an overgrown patch of land. Lots of weeds had self-seeded together with masses of brambles (see picture on the left).
An initial attempt to clear the land proved fruitless mainly because the 'garden' had been created with the rubble and clay dug out when the extension was built. And when I say clay, I mean the blue dense kind. Every time you put a fork or spade into the ground, you would hit old bricks, stone, slate tiles or even worse....the dreaded awful heavy clay.
In order to try and stop the weeds and brambles, we laid two or three layers of turf (dug up from borders in the back garden), grass side down, on the patch of land and left it for a year.
Any thoughts of turning the soil and creating a flower bed had gone out of the window and I started to look at what I could plant with the minimal of effort but for the maximum effect and, just at the right moment, the David Austin rose brochure popped through the post-box.
Roses love clay and so, after much deliberation, last March I purchased 10 David Austin 'Olivia Rose' scrub roses for the border together with 'The Pilgrim' climbing rose and 'Claire Austin' climbing rose to train along the fence. It was a big investment for a small patch of the garden.
The bareroot roses were planted on a very wet day in March 2018. The soil/clay was heavy and it was difficult just to dig sufficient holes to plant the roses. I mulched the roses with Strulch and waited.
The new roses started to grow mid-May and by late June were in full bloom until October.
My hope is that the roses will continue to grow and create a low-maintenance hedge. I don't plan on digging the border but will feed the roses during Spring/Summer and continue to mulch in Spring.
The rose garden also helped us out with another problem. After a period of steady heavy rain, a pool of water forms in a small ditch by the side of the house. The water hasn't got into the house yet but this is mainly due to my husband and I going out with our full waterproofs on and with buckets to get the water out and poor it down the outdoor sink. It is a constant worry especially if we are not at home and it starts to rain. My husband had previously dug a drain (in the heavy clay) and filled it with sand and stone to try and aid drainage but it didn't work. However, since planting the rose garden last March, we haven't had any problems with flooding.
In 2018, I managed to persuade my husband to buy a greenhouse.
This was sold to him on the basis that we would save so much money if I grew the flowers for the garden and the vegetables for the raised beds from seed rather than buying plants and herbs from the garden centre.
We had been fortunate enough to find a large concrete base when we had cut back the weeds, ivy and brambles. We never knew it existed before clearing the garden and our neighbours explained that there used to be a garage there. Already having a fixed base saved us money, which went towards the greenhouse.
After much research, I settled on an Elite vintage greenhouse. My dad advised us to save as much money as possible and buy the largest greenhouse we could afford as we would never have enough space. The size of the greenhouse was largely based on the size of the concrete base but we managed to to fit a 12 x 7.5 ft greenhouse on it. I also 'negotiated' with the supplier and managed to get some shelving and a seed tray unit thrown in. The greenhouse also came with 2 windows and a louvre vent.
I feel in love immediately on installation and couldn't wait to fill it with vegetables, seeds and plants for the garden.
We've had the greenhouse for less than a year and I can say with some certainty that it was one of the best purchases we've made. During last Summer, I managed to grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse and sow lots of vegetables and plants from seed saving us (probably) hundreds of pounds.
There is also something quite wonderful about sowing the seeds and watching them grow. And I can't wait to start again this Spring.