Mary, in The Secret Garden is accused of being a meddlesome wench when she wants to find her way into the secret garden, and that’s pretty much how I feel about our side garden.
When we first got here, it was only accessible via the secret passageway between our house and the annexe. It’s the only way to get to the annexe house, and it was completely overgrown. It was impossible to get through. It was completely covered in ivy and vines and miscellaneous shrubs. When we moved in, there was a diseased cherry, and the other trees.
Now we’ve cleared a lot of the undergrowth, cut through brambles, hacked back the ivy, it’s looking a little better. The annexe needs new windows and new shutters, a new door and a whole new interior, if not a new roof!
Having said that, the annexe is waterproof and has decent sized rooms. It’s definitely a good guest house! You can see the pear tree, now bare, against the annexe. You can also see, next to it, the quince and the other pear tree that winds through it. Both need pruning back! The outside of the building needs painting, and I’m not sure why the roof over the secret passageway is at an angle to it. It doesn’t line up with the house, the edge of the house, the annexe or anything else. Odd!!
When we first got here, the gate was overgrown and locked. We’ve hacked our way through the brambles, ivy and vines and now the gate opens.
Both the gate posts are in need of TLC, having been vandalised by ivy, and the gate, as you can see, needs to come off completely. I think it was only the padlock holding it all up and together!
We bought a cute little picket gate kit from Brico Depot, which Steve put together and I’m in the process of painting. We went for the cheap paint on special offer – such is our life now – which said ‘Vert Irlandais’ and was more ‘Irish green of the Irish tricolour than the green over Connemara’. Still, I like it. We have got a big double gate to replace at the back, and I will probably paint that in the same colour. I’m all about the gates!
I am, however, also all about the customising. Expect to see some white and gold customising! Would butterflies be too camp?! I can see Steve skipping up the path if I paint it with little flowers or butterflies, but it definitely needs a little ‘je ne sais quoi’
With a new gate, white arches with clematis, wisteria and vines twisting through them, the hedge back under control, this will be beautiful – although it takes a little imagination right now! I feel like it’s the season to strip it all back to the ground, and when spring comes, it will be like watching a butterfly-garden emerge from a winter cocoon.
We have a little ‘w.c.’ up in the back of the yard, as you do in France! It forms the corner between our house and the road, so we can’t remove it. Steve’s idea is to turn it into a water feature. I think not. Water features need cleaning and looking after and fussing. I’m thinking of a shady fern-and-hosta retreat – the secret garden faces west and gets very little sunlight in parts, not least because of the huge hedge.
The door and any wooden structure will be going on Jake’s bonfire, come Friday. I’m thinking shelves and ferns and hostas. You can see all the ivy all over the floor – it’s rampant! I have already been out on mammoth secateur trips, and I’m making in-roads, but it still needs a lot of work! The path needs clearing out again, the ivy pulling up and back, and this will be a cute little corner to the garden. There is a stone table thing there, too, though we’ve no idea what it once was. It’s neither stool nor table. It’d be good for plants in pots, but it’s collapsing, so it will be removed!
It’s not particularly good as a garden, being right next to the road and overlooked by the house over on the other side, but it’s good to look out on to. Both back rooms in the house have shutters that open up onto it. New shutters are needed. Steve will make these and I’m wondering if the green isn’t a little bit too much for the shutters as well? If I had my way, I’m thinking dark red. When the walls are painted again, it will all look quite splendid!
Anyway, it’s all a long way off! It needs a lot of love and tenderness before it will look half way like I want it to look!