I'd like to finish the week by sharing some photos from our garden transformation. Of all the work we have done in the Nest, I think it's the garden that makes me happiest.

In the area where we live in Manchester, two bedroom houses are around the same price as two bedroom flats - with the exception being that the houses hardly ever come on the market, so when one does, you jump! And we knew we wanted a house, so that we could have a garden, so that we could finally have the dogs we'd been dreaming about owning during all those years of renting apartments when we had barely enough room to swing the proverbial cat, even if the landlord had allowed us to have a cat in the flat (look, I'm rhyming today!), and even if Andre hadn't been allergic to cats. Which he is. Hence rendering the whole cats versus dogs thing a fairly simple decision.

Anyway, if someone had told me as little as five years ago that I'd one day in the not too distant future actually take pleasure from grabbing a trowel and a packet of seeds and spending an entire day gardening, I'd have immediately thrown on my stilettos and grabbed the nearest Cosmopolitan (the cocktail, not the magazine) as if to affirm my distance from that future, blurred, gardening-loving Alice with whom I just couldn't associate myself.

Yet the family green thumb (all the women in my family eventually succumb to gardening. That makes it sound like some kind of Victorian illness, right? 'I'm terribly sorry sir, but I'm afraid your wife has succumbed to a fit of Gardening') came through when we moved into the Nest, and now I have a shed full of tools (and not the girlie versions with flowers on the handle, no, not for me, I have the proper man-versions, more power!) and love nothing more than spending the afternoon grubbing through the dirt (who knows, maybe it's the small mud-pie-making Alice making a belated reappearance).

I mean come on, how awesome are bulbs! You take what is basically an onion, stick it in the ground, wait for a few months, and it magically grows into a gorgeous flower - all from an onion? How is that even physically possible? And seeds are even better - seriously, how does a flower fit inside something the size of a pin-head? Just incredible.

So anyway, when we first moved in, the garden was really working that whole prison-yard style thing, with half comprising of concrete slabs, and the other half of boring old grass:

A couple of short years later, and this is how our garden looks now:

When I designed it, I was mostly going for a secret garden atmosphere (one of my favourite books from childhood), with a Mediterranean influence (we have 6 cordyline palm trees, five eucalyptus trees, and seven olive trees) and a jungly feel, with plants scrambling everywhere.

We built various structures to provide a framework for the garden (a wooden deck, a patio with an overhead pergola, and a seating area with raised beds) and because I wanted it to look good all year round, we chose mostly evergreen plants, and planted hundreds of spring and summer flowering bulbs to ensure that the garden would burst with colour from February to November.

You can also check out the before and after photos in our photo gallery.

I'll be back next week with the results of my first Out of the Picture post - a room design based on Van Gogh's 'Room at Arles'. Happy weekend, everyone!