Decoration, Lou C

Vertical Limit

My gardening life has taken a new turn over the past few years. Since moving house I have found myself dipping my (flip-flopped) toe into the realm of extreme sports. Yes, extreme gardening. The preserve of the modern day adrenaline junkie who, handily enough, can get their fix right outside the back door.

After all, who needs base jumping when you can garden on a slope?

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Decoration, Guest Posts, Lou C

Nosy Neighbours

Now maybe it’s just me, but I do like a certain amount of privacy in the garden. Having established that we are somewhat of a novelty in the locality (after all, we love to garden), we know that many of our antics create a certain amount of curtain twitching and more than a few passing comments — not least the regular return trips from the garden centre with the car packed to the rafters with yet more plants.

There have also been certain garden mishaps I’d rather forget, like the time I tumbled down our (then grassy) slope after losing my balance whilst trying to insert a solar light spike in our rock-hard clay soil or when I suffered from pins and needles in both feet after too much crouching down as I weeded. Let’s just say that John Cleese and his Ministry of Silly Walks had nothing on me for nearly five minutes.
The newly painted fence in the garden
As part of a new build development, we are overlooked on all sides, and all sides are not more than a good stone’s throw from us (not that I’ve ever checked in practice of course!). It doesn’t help that our garden is on an incline and our patio (well, that’s what we like to call it, although I think that I might find a photo of it under the dictionary definition of a handkerchief) sits at the top, for all to see.

Maybe I’m just kidding myself – after all, are neighbours really that nosy and am I really that interesting (silly walks and roly polys aside of course)? I’m sure neither is the case but this does nothing to dampen my desire for a little more privacy, particularly when my next door neighbour (unassuming, friendly and not allergic to a few plants herself) combats her slope by having her garden landscaped into levels. This means that when she stands on her patio, she is now waist height with the top of our fence, in manner of the Jolly Green Giant and it now feels like Lilliput on this side of the fence.  In fairness, she does try and announce her presence with a well placed “ahem” or “knock, knock”, should she want our attention, which is usually quite rare. However, it can be a little disconcerting to know that the view from her conservatory window and garden leads straight over the fence into our patio and garden room!
Pergola with hanging baskets in the garden
Building a pergola attached to the house has helped a little and has created a little more privacy overhead, but this still doesn’t solve the whole problem. After a lot of negotiating (read: begging), my husband agreed to a trellis screen carefully placed at the top of the rockery which solved the problem of the neighbours to the back of us having a direct view of the patio. However, this still leaves the issue of my next door neighbour’s view.
A garden trellis
Not one to be deterred, I have taken the opportunity to purchase several more well placed clematis and once they are settled (and not slug food) they may hopefully blur the boundaries a little. However, they will not reach the dizzy heights needed to screen my neighbour’s view without something to attach themselves to and it seems a little extreme to use even more trellis screening, even if it is attached to the fence. We have for now decided that we are on good enough terms with our neighbour to leave things as they are.
Neighbour's red setter dog
Unfortunately the red-headed lodger who has recently moved in has none of the tact and diplomacy of her landlady. In fact, she loves nothing better than spending the greater part of a day peering over the fence into our garden and she’s not discreet about it! Even catching her on camera didn’t seem to deter her enthusiasm although it soon became clear that she was particularly enamoured with our furry five.
Red setter dog looking over fence
It does at first feel quite disconcerting, knowing we are being watched but it is quite a novelty knowing that it is by a rather large red setter and it certainly adds to the Lilliputian effect! I just hope the fence holds because I’ve seen the devastation she has wreaked on her side of the fence and there’s a lot more to play with here.

The whole business has left me wondering though, how do other people deal with privacy in an overlooked garden, and how much does it matter?

Lou C

Gardening, Guest Posts, Lou C

Blooming Marvelous!

What a difference a week makes. This week definitely brought the sun and the flowers where there used to be rain! In fact, my little garden is currently being slow cooked at Gas Mark 2 due to the open south-facing nature of the site. Being on an incline doesn’t help either as there is very little shade. Even our pergola which hasn’t yet celebrated its first birthday doesn’t currently provide much respite.
Red Clematis Blooms
Having at least a third of the garden grown in pots and planters doesn’t help either. Thank goodness the hosepipe ban has been lifted for now. (We are still struggling to find somewhere to fit a waterbutt due to a complete dearth of drainpipes).

At least there are upsides to this weather, the most obvious being that it’s not raining! However, I’m not an exotic creature and struggle almost as much as my garden in this heat. My priority is not lying out in the sun either – I’ve never liked lobster in any form. No, the reason I’m most excited about this weather is because so many flowers have suddenly and gloriously come into bloom!
Purple Clematis on Trellis
In particular, my spring flowering clematis have suddenly gone mad and after several patient years in some cases, I have flowers where no flower has bloomed before. Admittedly, in some cases, blink (or work all week) and you miss them, so this year I’m capturing as much as I can on camera.

For a small garden we probably have more clematis per square metre than the corresponding section of the garden centre and counting… It’s amazing what you can pack into a small space (and yes, my talents do extend to shoes and suitcases, much to my husband’s exasperation). However, this does mean that each morning this week I have been greeted by another surprise – a large nodding head of another clematis greeting me.
Pink Clematis Flowers
In some cases they have been slightly nibbled, in others they are holier than the Bible due to our slug infestation but some of them, to my delight, are perfect! I can’t be sure that my neighbours have taken as much delight in my finds or my squeals of excitement at silly o’clock each morning (I can’t resist just popping out to check before I head off to the rat race each day). I would try and restrain myself for the sake of being a better neighbour but it really is like Christmas at the moment … and long may it last. Ho ho ho!

Lou C

Guest Posts, Lighting, Lou C, Solar Lighting

Let there be light….

After laying our new patio at the bottom of the garden last year we have decided that the bottom of the garden looks very dark a compared to the Christmas grotto at the top. To address this, we have invested in some new solar post lights. After all, they’re in a shadier part of the garden so they shouldn’t make our garden look like a landing strip and we have the ideal place for them. Just at the edge of the border in the patch we have named ‘Pooh Corner’ for reasons that I won’t go into — suffice to say that we have five cats. After all, who wouldn’t want lights there?

Garden Solar Post LightsSolar Post Bubble Lights
Having deliberated over the merits of solar versus wired, we decided to take the lazy option. However, if we want to install a water feature there (it really is the only possible place in our garden, although yes I do have concerns about its possible use as a cat bidet), then we will have to install electricity at some point.

For now however, we have plumped for ease. Never one for patience, I am struggling to wait until the weekend to install them. They are on a spike, wire-free and the solar panel is concealed in the top of each light. Perfect!

It turns out to be a quick and easy job. The spikes slide easily into our clay that is still damp from the torrential rain and I can’t wait until it gets dark. The cats seem to like them too although there is very little for them to damage, unlike my fairy lights which one of the furry five decided to snack on one morning.

Solar light posts in the garden
As the sun sets, I’m bitterly disappointed. They haven’t been out long enough to charge up, my husband informs me. (Once an engineer, always an engineer). Day two dawns bright and sunny. I have high hopes and I’m not disappointed.
Seen from space? Our garden at night? Well, I never!

Lou C