I have become obsessed with gardening. From someone who found gardens deathly dull I am turning into someone who knows the names of plants. We have giant hogweed, how lovely.
When we bought the house in 2003, the garden, lovingly tended by a little old lady, looked like this. While looking at these pictures, I want you to reflect on why anyone with a small garden would plant seven fir trees. Answers on a postcard please.
Then we left the country and let the house to tenants. Conscious of the fact that the garden might need some maintenance and having more money than sense we offered to pay for a gardener to come every so often. The tenants said that they would rather do it themselves. Here are some pictures of the garden just after the tenants moved out in 2008.
And look at those cute little fir trees, they grow up so fast, don’t they?
This is the side passage of which I have no 2003 photo as it was then an unremarkable gravelled area. It pushed the boundaries while we were away. When clearing away the foliage below, I unearthed two bicycle skeletons.
So, much of the past two years has been spent in uprooting. I’ve hung on to the pussy willow which self-seeded, is enormous and holding one end of the washing line. Mr. Waffle feels it needs to be pollarded. He says this on the basis of some work of literary fiction he is reading. Personally, I’d like some more reliable source, like the internet. You see it on the left below, does it need to be pollarded, if so how? Note also the tasteful paving stones on the “lawn” which I have not yet removed as I know I will not be able to grow lawn to replace them.
Speaking of not growing grass, you see my problem below. On the plus side the fir tree you see is one of only two extant specimens. Cutting them down is hard work, especially when Michael cries and throws his arms around them. I am taking the children to Cork next week and I hope that the dastardly deed will be done in our absence.
While there are improvements in the side passage, I would be the first to concede that it still needs work.
Two years of hard labour and this is the result as of today.
Frankly, sometimes I despair and I haven’t even shown you the, ahem, vegetable patch.
You could try coppicing it. This is exactly the same as cutting it down (you can’t really pollard it as you haven’t got a single trunk – a pollard is basically a coppice on a stick). Do it in winter when the tree is dormant, and you should get a whole load of new growth shooting up from the base. You’ll have to find somewhere else to tie your washing line – I suggest not one of the willow sticks, or you’ll end up with two willows.
Our garden in London looked like your side passage when we moved in as tenants (the letting agent had promised it would be cleared). I had great fun hacking it all back and turning it into a garden
Never ever believe tenants who say they will do gardening. They are lying (she says, and then embarrassed, reads townmouse’s post. Sorry, townmouse)
We coppiced the horse chestnut tree next door (growing into our eaves) – well I say we, the nice tree surgeon did it. 2 years later we had to cut it down as it was growing into our eaves again.
You need a shed.
I second townmouse re coppicing. Pollarding is more for the likes of elm and beech, not willow. See Epping Forest – trees pollarded in such a fashion that the common land could be used for grazing and ‘coppice’ wood grown above safely out of animal reach.
Also, if that wall faces a suitable direction, how about some espalier fruit trees?
The Brussels communes love pollarding, plane trees I think. They look desperate during the winter months but fabulous now. Happy gardening, but you’ve made me shudder to think what’s happening our lovely garden in Dublin currently being rented out!
TM, I feel that this is sound advice, but, in the interim, what will I use for the other end of my washing line. V. trying.
Katie, I see there perhaps the answer to my washing line problem.
Sarah, my husband feels very strongly as you do that we need a shed. I am considering. We already have two small sheds full of stuff and I feel we may need a different solution. I am seriously considering the fruit trees. The wall faces due west which should be alright, I think.
CAD, shudder hard.