We can't really start creating a proper garden until the exterior of the house is finished (and we can't finish the exterior of the house until we sell the house in Australia and get some money...) but I decided that we could create a little temporary wildlife friendly garden, as an experiment and as a bit of fun. If it worked, it would make the distinctly rundown look of the rear of the house look all the more cottagey, and if it failed, well, we hadn't lost anything.
In May I bought some seeds that I thought would grow into plants that would survive considerable neglect and provide a bit of wildlife food. I bought radishes because they would grow quickly and many insects like the flowers of the mustard family of plants, and small finch type birds are reputedly quite keen on the seeds. We didn't want to eat the radishes ourselves -- neither Simon nor I are particularly fond of them. I also got a variety of flowering plants with proven attractiveness to insects and suitable drought tolerance -- Marguerites (ox eye daisies), Jacobs Ladder, annual cornflowers, sweet rocket and sunflowers. Then I added some herbs -- basil and coriander, and salad leaf, zucchini and sweet corn, just to see if they would survive and produce something edible.
Our back yard was previously the stableyard, and doesn't really have any proper soil -- it's more like hoggin and quite compacted and gravelly. We had some loose limestone blocks from the demolished chimney that were of a manageable size and were just lying around doing nothing, so we laid them out as a border to the planting area, just to delineate where the seeds were and encourage people not to trample willy-nilly across the area, but give the little plants a fighting chance. Then I brought out the pickaxe and hacked away at the ground for a while. This was clearly going to take quite a while, so Simon hooked up his chisel blade to the hammer drill and used it like a jackhammer -- job done in minutes!
In went the seeds, on went a mulch of 20+ year old straw left over from the days when there were actually horses here (hope we all haven't got farmers lung as a result of handling it!) and the new garden watered.
After 3 weeks we got this:
and after 8 weeks it was this:
then 10 weeks and looking pretty and cottagey:
and last week we got this!!
and it looked like this (the sunflowers are a good 2m high!)