Several people have asked if I'll get more, but I can't bear the thought of it happening again. Instead, I'm turning the pen into a fruit cage, and the hen house into a potting shed. Later this week I'll bring myself to clean it out for the last time, and dismantle the nest box and perches. Then I'll paint the outside (maybe soft green or lavender) and move it to the side of the pen, to maximise the space.
I'll give pride of place, inside the shed, to this carving that my brother made for me a couple of years ago. I'll paint the inside white, put some staging from the greenhouse inside to work at, and hang pretty curtains to hang at the window. I've been reading up on painting plastic garden chairs, and will have a go with four which are knocking around the garden, and make some cushions for them, too. With a couple of hanging baskets suspended outside, this area at the bottom of the garden will become a little oasis from life, for me. I fancy getting some chicken statues to dot around, too, although DH reckons I'm going over the top there!!
On a lighter note, I had a fab outing this week. A neighbour/friend belongs to U3A (University of the Third Age) which offers talks, etc., for retired people. The range of groups/meetings is huge, and I'm going to sign up for some stuff starting in September (I'll start by trying a reading group, and the garden visiting one, and take it from there). Norma goes to poetry and play reading groups, too.
Anyway, back to the outing. I joined them for a visit to a local garden. I love going to National Trust places, but it's so inspiring to see what people have done with their own domestic space, too. This one was just around the corner from our home, and was delightful. It's about 120' long by 30' wide, so not huge, but crammed with plants and character. The couple living there have worked it together since 1995, when their children had grown and no longer needed play space.
Fancy a tour? I hope it inspires you as much as it did me. I started taking pics on the patio outside the house, then went down the left side and back up the right. I hope you can follow it, and it makes sense.
The first is up against the house, showing part of their huge collection of succulents. I've come away wanting to introduce them into my garden - watch this space!)
On the opposite side of the patio - yet more succulents! I love the way they've used all sorts of pots, and I'm determined to use the ones I've got hanging around.
For this one, I just stepped back, to show across the garden - the swing seat is fab, in the shade under the wisteria and two huge hanging baskets.
This water feature can be seen in the foreground of the above pic, and has a little light in the hole at the top - just right to enjoy with a glass of wine, on the swing when the sun goes down!
This old stone sink 'thing' is ideal for the succulents, and I love the use of the shells. Must dig mine out!
Carrying on around the corner, you come to a hot bed. It's mostly green (cannas and other lush foliage) sprinkled with zing-y splashes of vibrant orange. I must copy their use of varied leaf size, shape and texture.
This shot shows it full on, from across the garden.
Notice how the fences are all completely covered, giving the impression that neighbours are miles away, rather than up close and personal.
Further up, in the shade of trees overhead, you come to a big area, on right and left of the path, full of hostas and ferns, which make a fantastic contrasting combination. They must sit up all night, watching out for slugs and snails - there was hardly a nibble showing!!
Past a clump of exotic bamboo
you get to the beautiful trees giving the hosta/fern shelter - look at that amazing bark!
I love the use of different paving materials - adding interest as well as saving money.
This is so sweet - the spade and cap which had belonged to the man's father - it stays as a memory to the man who gave them £3000 to kick start work on the garden, back in 1995 - a lovely tribute.
At the top of the garden you arrive at this sweet little summer house - bring on the Pimms!
Just outside the summer house, the tinkling sound of water again, to cool and refresh.
What a great idea, at the very top of the garden - a mirror obscured by this old gate, with the legend 'Enigma' - truly inspired.
A great use of ground cover.
Coming back down the right hand side of the garden, there are two miniature railways The track for this smaller one, runs around a bed mainly of alpines and succulents, which complement the size of the trains, going around at waist height, so you can appreciate the beauty of the tiny plants and trains.
Here's the waist high bed/train set - see the brill 'Easter Island' head and hair-do?!
This is the larger set, which runs along the ground, between mainly hostas and ferns.
I'm not keen on buddhas, but I love the use of tiny pearl-like succulents in this flat dish, alongside the larger ones.
Another gorgeous example of bark
Even the bird feeder is a work of art -
Finally, this beautiful acer and clematis bring us back to where we started.
I hope you've enjoyed the tour as much as I did. Thankfully I've come home inspired, rather than overwhelmed by the talent and hard work of this couple.
Love for now, Chris xx