Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The One That Unlocks the Garden

As we entered into spring we made a list of things to do and projects to be done during the coming warmer months. Some were exciting and pretty to do, whilst some were more functional but necessary. 

The entrance into the utility/working area
Doing something that will directly make the garden 'pretty', if you may call it that may be more exciting and tempting to do first but such activities doesn't necessarily make for a good priority. Sometimes you have to prioritise more functional projects first.

The thing is in our garden there are three major areas that still needed a makeover: the new garden (with the koi pond), the top patio (nearest to the back of the house), and the front garden (and a tiny one too, with barely enough space to park two cars off the street). And with the narrow access way to the back garden from the front and limited amount of space (and resource too mind you) we could only do one area at a time...

The New Area (blast from the past photo, as it was June 2010)
The Top Patio (photo courtesy of Loree of Danger Garden)
The Front Garden (if you can call it that!)
And it has to be on the right order: the new area first, then the top patio, and last would be the front garden. Why does it have to be in this order if you ask? Because the new area, of the three is the furthest from the house so that has to be done first. En route to there you have to pass by the top patio, which includes wheeling a barrow through it. If we make over the middle area first then it will be at risk of being damaged as we wheel and carry heavy materials constantly through it as we sort out the new area. And whilst we do the work on the new area where do we store the landscaping materials? Out in the front garden (which makes for a front garden that looks untidy almost all the time, not giving the best of impressions to anyone who passes by). It's not an ideal situation to stack things at the front but where else can we put them whilst we're doing some work, with lack of space elsewhere and all. So...

These things have to be stacked somewhere, and with limited space it had to be at the front garden. Not ideal but hey ho...
Before it gets too confusing I'm glad to say that after almost three years the new area is now finished; koi pond done, three raised beds done, pergola and decking done, a huge tick off the major trilogy of area makeovers and from there we can finally turn our attention to the other two....

But oops, not quite, not yet! What about the working/utility area right down at the bottom of the new area? Okay, it is technically segregated from the 'new area' but it is still part of it and it needs attention and doing to it just as much as the rest. It is not an area of beauty and aesthetics yes, but an area of function and necessity that if done will help make the rest of the garden look nicer. An area of storage and to nurture plants (and fish). So indirectly, it is still a project for garden aesthetics and beauty.

In smaller gardens (like ours, relatively speaking), if you don't have a working/utility area then you have to do your potting up and other chores in one of your 'tidy' areas of the garden, wherein you have to tidy up after every time you do work in it, ideally almost immediately. And not only that, you have to be creative where you store your tools, excess pots, compost, and in displaying all the plants that you have so you don't have to sacrifice the limited space you have to the mercy of a working mess.

Something had to give. While the working area was being sorted, the top patio was 'decomisioned' and became a temporary working area. You can see Twinkles in action there
But if you have a designated working area...

So it had to be prioritised. It's not a 'pretty, pretty' sort of project but it has to be done for it is the one that unlocks the garden. And I'm glad to say that the plant side of this working area is now completed (the pond side, the smaller greenhouse is a bonus but still needs doing soon of course).

The 'plant side' is now finished. Which means I have space to store plants now that are not meant for display this year
The 'pond side' still to follow but no big rush for this one
In this area I can carry on and do all of my repotting, store pots and compost, and store plants that are not meant to be displayed in the garden this year. So instead of having loads of random pots scattered around, they can all be stored in one area instead.

The 'unglamorous' side of the Filtration House, the side facing the working area. The ledge however is a permanent storage space potted plants.
A recent visitor took as much interest in the plants in the working area as much as the plants out in the garden...
and you can tell that this visitor is definitely a plantsman. For a plantsman takes as much interest on the plants that are hidden away as much as the ones on display.
A glimpse of what's currently occupying the greenhouse
Each plant has it's own story why they are stored away. Either they are genuine extra plants, they need extra TLC this summer, they need growing on first before they get planted out, and anything else in between.
The working area will help make the rest of the garden look tidy, unlocking areas that were temporarily taken out of use whilst storage and utility work were done there.

And once the pond side of this area has been finished then that's it, the entire new area is finished. A huge tick off the trilogy. And we can move on to the other two.

Mark :-)

42 comments :

  1. Wow! I'm envious of your fabulous working area! My huge garage simply must disappear! Your new greenhouse is looking marvy!

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    1. Thanks Peter! Having a garage is handy too. If possible perhaps incorporate a window there so you can store some plants in it especially during winter?

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  2. I completely agree about having a work area. I squat in the driveway and generally make a huge mess right where we tend to enter the house. A proper work bench or out of the way area is better. I can't wait to see the completion of your next two projects (though I'm tired just hearing about it all--that's a lot of work).

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    1. I feel the same Heather, it's not good for the back too when you squat as you do some repotting. A potting bench at the right height would be nice and makes the process much easier.

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  3. I dream of annexing the neighbors back yard for my working area. We buy the house, rent it plus the driveway, garage and the closest part of the back out...but the last 1/3 becomes all mine. Guess I better go buy that lottery ticket.

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    1. Sounds a good idea Loree (including the lottery ticket which we ought to do too!). I'm glad we were able to annex half of one of our neighbours garden, which made all of the new bit possible.

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  4. Oops! Your discipline is showing!

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  5. I am so glad you have as many pots as I do!! I really need to get the 'unsightly' area better organised!!!

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    1. Those pots are just a fraction of what used to be there, I've thrown loads already even before I took those photos...

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  6. I'm not quite sure what it says about me, but I get quite excited about projects like this, and getting right something like a utility area can make enjoying - and caring for - the rest of the garden so much easier. I love that you built in a shelf to the filtration house for pots, taking the time to really think things out like that will make such an enormous difference. And any time I start to feel sorry for myself having so many plants in pots to take care of, I will remind myself of your garden...

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    1. Thanks Janet and how true, a utility area makes for caring for the rest of the garden much easier. And it's a fun area too, with all the gardening activities you can do there :)

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  7. Don't recall seeing some of this area before. That ledge is a whole little nursery sitting there so I understand people's fascination with that. Your new projects are going to be so interesting to watch develop.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Thanks Cher! This bit doesn't usually get featured on the blog until recently (especially with the big chalk pile there before).

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  8. All amazing looking plants, and they are looking especially nice in all the various pots. For some reason, I like it that way -- gives more natural look compared to having all same looking pots.

    You should one day write a post where you show the old and the new look of all parts of your garden. It would be amazing to look at and get ideas. Whenever you do such a post, please let me know in my blog if I forget to check.

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    1. Thanks KL :) I'll get to do those posts gradually in the next few months, will have to do lots of looking back at the old photos.

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  9. SO many pots! I agree with KL - lots of before and after pics please!

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  10. A good working area makes you want to be there, so it encourages you to get on with little jobs that might otherwise been neglected. This is lovely. Is that York Stone paving?

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    1. Indeed Helen :) Some are yes, Indian sandstone that is rather than York stone.

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  11. Exploring someone else's greenhouses and nursery area is a bit like peeking into the kitchen when invited to a dinner party - great fun to see what's going on behind the scenes! I'm very jealous of your big greenhouse and all that space you have.

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    1. True Ian, it can be fascinating to peek 'behind the scenes'

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  12. Mark, I really admire how you plan and prioritize your garden projects! Owning a small garden myself, with no permanent working area and hardly any storage space I know that it is the only way to have "pretty garden" and not an unorganized mess. If I only would be as disciplined as you guys are :-)! By the way I love how neat all your potted plants are looking, you must be really taking good care of them.
    Christina

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    1. Thank you Christina :) even if it's a working area we try to make it as tidy as possible and enjoy keeping the plants and pots looking tidy too. Hope you're enjoying your vacation and have a fab stay here!

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  13. The transformation is incredible you guys! And I sure love your greenhouses. You both work so well together!

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  14. You are so organized! I suppose having a limited area necessitates that. I smiled at your plantsman seeking out the not for show plants. I am always amazed when visitors to my garden are fascinated by the ugly parts.

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    1. Thank you Debs! It's the thrill of looking 'behind the scenes' :)

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  15. Looking good! I especially love that greenhouse. I'm just now getting started on my summer projects....starting with reconstructing a fence between our house and the rent house next door. It's going to take all summer, but once it is done I'm finished for good!
    David/:0)

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    1. Definitely worth doing David, as you'll gain some much needed privacy

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  16. Wow! very impressive, an inspiration to be more organised. But your garden isn't so small, is it? Christina

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    1. Thanks Christina! It's not a bad size, large for a town garden but not large enough to accommodate all the plants that we'd like to grow :)

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  17. OMG that's a lot of work and literally heavy. If there's no man in the house, and if the gardener is always absent, that doesn't happen, although it is always planned. I am so envious. I can imagine the difficulty of having plants like yours in that type of climate. It gives more difficulty, but you managed, you're so good at it, both of you.

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  18. I have to take off both my hat and wig to you both, you are relentless in creating your perfect plantsmens paradise. Wonderful. What you refer to as the 'unglamorous' side of the filtration house, has many a gardener salivating at its potted residents.

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    1. Thanks Paul, and a fabulous wig it is too if I may say :D A big chunk of the hidden plants are for personal collection, not sure if some of them will ever be displayed but it's just to nice we have them.

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  19. I really enjoyed eavesdropping on your thought process for these projects Mark. I also have a very unattractive utility area , and every year I hope that the budget will allow me to fix it.I can't seem to give up travel though..so it remains a mess!

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    1. Travel is a very worthy priority ks! :)

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  20. Very pleased to have discovered this blog - it's interesting to see how other gardeners are tackling the challenges of gardening in a limited space. This is how I have tackled a tiny space in South Wales http://daffodilsky.hubpages.com/hub/Create-a-beautiful-garden-in-a-small-space
    I am very jealous of your lovely greenhouse- there is no room for one in my garden (without sacrificing flower beds!). Love your container plant collection. Good luck with your projects:)

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    1. Thank you Helen, glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit and looking forward to seeing your garden progress too!

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  21. You are so very smart to think of the sequence in which to work. I usually just go for what captures my imagination. And I don't have a utility area, I just drag plants in and out of the garage. Your ledge looks so much better, and so much more organized!

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    1. Thank you Holley! With a lack of space and desire to tidy as much as we could we had to consider the right order of things. But we do sometimes give in to whim! :)

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