Things really stepped up from 2013, in terms of what we were developing with our cottage garden. Kevin worked as a plant Nurseryman and so he decided that he did not really want to do much of the gardening. Pretty much from the get-go, the garden became my project and this has been a joy for me. It has also been great therapy and essential exercise as my illness, still undiagnosed at that point, would get more and more challenging each year.
Our little dogs, naughty terriers Oscar and Digby, would become central to our lives and this made being in the garden all the more fun. The two cheeky little dogs saw their first snowfall , started to grow enough to be able to start taking walks out in the wider world with us and they loved the socialising that we did, with many friends and family members either popping by for a visit or coming to stay with us for a few days at a time. Of course, these two adorable pups would soak up all of the attention and cause great merriment.
We started to tackle some of the bigger jobs that needed to be done. We asked our landlord, who kindly agreed, for a new driveway to be laid and for our front garden to be reshaped a little; giving a slightly larger driveway. This was a most massive undertaking and resolved a great many problems both with cracked concrete and with much needed flood drainage to be provided. This came in the form of a very large concrete tunnel being laid directly under the back garden. A considerable amount of disruption but great peace of mind, given that we did see the meadow outside our house flood.
As our dogs continued to grow and enjoy life, we started to tackle some of the larger planting and, on one occasion, a dear friend called Sharon came along to help us tackle a massively overgrown lilac that sat between the front and rear gardens. This saved the lilac which would otherwise have collapsed on itself.
This was when we started to see our little ‘sticks’ hedge take off and grow. By the end of 2013, the hedge was almost as high as the fence and I was truly able to see how the garden would look, going forward. It was precisely what I had planned for but, given this was the first time I’d designed a garden, I was particularly pleased. Not least of all, I was delighted with how much the hedgerow was attracting in yet more wildlife into the garden. We saw a great rise in the number of birds coming into the garden and, here on the Suffolk coast, the variety of birds still astonishes me to this day.
Particularly satisfying, and very important to us, was that the garden was starting to take shape as a lovely place to host social gatherings as well as the impromtu cuppa with spontaneous friends. Kevin and I love nothing more than to welcome people to our home and to sit for hours talking nonsense over something lovely to drink. The cottage garden was becoming a place that felt incredibly comfortable for that.
Over this period of time, we went as far as holding a pretty big event in the garden. I knew that my mum was in worsening health and so we decided rather than to wait for her 70th Birthday, in 2015, we would throw a big party for her in 2014. This was indeed timely, for had we have waited until 2015, my mum simply would not have been able to make it through a full day of fun and celebration. Her 69th Birthday was one of the best days ever. We had friends and family gather and we set up a massive gazebo. With delicious home cooked food, lovely drinks and great company; we finally ended the event at around 2am the following morning and it was simply the most happy, fun and joyous day. My mum spoke of it often and she looked back on that occasion with a great deal of happiness in her remaining years, until we lost her earlier this year (January 2020).
What better can I say about the development of our cottage garden? A source of fun, nature, wildlife, sanctuary, home, friends, family and special ocasions. Oh, this really was the dream as a wonderful reality.
Gardens need constant work, however, and they continue to evolve. I will write more about how our cottage garden developed, so do look out for further posts.
(c) Deano Parsons. 2020.