Appropriately, I'm writing this post about our garden design while sitting outside in our garden at 10pm WHILE WEARING SHORTS, A T-SHIRT AND FLIPFLOPS. Manchester only gets summer for about one week per year, so it's important to make the most of it. I'm also slurping a Cointreau in-between sentences, so please forgive any typos.
Our plan for the garden at our new house is a bit different to the garden at our first house. This is because we now have children who a) are quite hard on flowers, be that the over-zealous toddler pruning of any flower that dares to show its face in the garden, and, if my own childhood was anything to go by, the future destruction of flowerbeds by footballs, basketballs, cricketballs, bicycles, feet etc that is inevitably coming our way in a few years time and b) take up pretty much every nano-second of our time, meaning our opportunities to actually tend the garden lie in the region of slim to none.
So while we designed our first garden (pictured above) to include various sunny and shady spots for lazing around sipping coffee/cocktails, this time around we need something much more functional. Here's what we've got in mind.
So the idea is that the new kitchen-diner will open onto a wooden deck with an outdoor dining area and overhead pergola to the left, and a sandstone sun-lounger area (hopefully one day the kids will amuse themselves long enough that we can actually use them, right?). We'd like to have vegetables and herbs in raised beds close to the house, with a patio in front of them to make access easier.
We're hoping to build a treehouse (well, more likely a raised wooden platform) around the acers, and also one of those swing-set/slide/climbing frame/tower contraptions in the corner, slightly hidden from view by some shrubs and flowers (we already have a camellia, buddleia, honeysuckle, random bush with berries, and random bush with pink flowers in this part of the garden). And behind the acers, we're planning to lay a patio, similar to the Stone Circle of Servitude (shown below) from our old house, but this time with a basketball hoop fastened to one of the acer tree trunks. Hopefully the treehouse and the basketball patio will help to make sense of the two acers that are currently located fairly oddly just off-centre from the middle of the garden.
We've currently got a delightful wilderness in the far left-hand corner of the garden - the plan is to chop it all down and lay a new lawned area, maybe even artificial turf, which will become a cricket/football area. I have very fond memories of playing (small-scale) cricket in my parents' back garden, where anyone who hit the greenhouse was automatically given minus six. We may also enclose this area with trellis in an attempt to keep flying balls under control.
What else? A trampoline, obviously. Some pretty clematis to grow up the back fence. A seasonal cutting border - daffodils, peonies, ranunculus, lisianthus, sweet peas, poppies and maybe roses too. Outdoor cold AND hot water taps (for filling up the paddling pool - I recently took the kids for a playdate at a friend's house who had an outdoor hot water tap for this specific purpose, which they actually had installed pre-children, how organised is that?). Compost, waste and recycling bins plus water-butt round the side of the house.
We're also planning to create a dog run down the side of the house by making access to the main garden by gate only from the deck and sun patio. A couple of months ago we installed a temporary wire fence and wooden gate system in the garden for trial purposes, and it works brilliantly at keeping the dogs from destroying the lawn every time they charge outside for a good bark, which they do about ten million times a day (sorry, neighbours).
I think that's about it. Probably enough, huh? I think the space is going to work pretty hard for us, which is exactly what we want. And although it's probably going to take us about ten years to get it all installed, it should at least be pretty low-maintenance after that.
Do tell me - what did you love about your childhood garden? What do you love about your garden now?