It’s not often I get the chance to completely transform a garden from scratch and I find it a two-fold process; first the vision of what is needed and where, then the serendipitous process of adding and amending along the way. Fortunately I had the help of my talented and grafting wonderwoman friend Celia and also the expert gardening advice of the esteemed nature documentary maker and naturalist Cindy Buxton, who happened to live next door.
Cindy is a national treasure, and also a bit of a Lord Kitchener – if something needs doing she’ll take command and marshal troops where needed, such as purloining teenage muscles from the opposite neighbors to shift 300lb planters,earning her the nickname The General for the week. She is marvelous.
So what we started with was a bit of a no-hoper which had been more or less a student hang out, knee deep in butts and bottle caps. Job one was to power wash every inch – walls, flagstones, canopies; everything needed bringing back to life and rescuing. That took a whole day. The patio was unloved and uninviting, mostly housing spare floor tiles. Tiles were loaded and dumped. After washing, the next step was to populate it with plants and color, box woods and bay trees. At a local auction we bid on a giant fruitwood mirror and antique wrought iron garden furniture, I sprayed the bench white to match. The Barbeque was unearthed and cleaned up, resplendent in its new prominent position. Finally, the kitchen was given a behind the sink display that adds much to the patio when the windows are thrown open. I give you the before and after…
We created three distinct spaces for entertaining – the patio for morning coffee and barbeques, the dining table in the middle and properly spiffed up the end section as a party space, after dinner lounge and sun trap. The middle was looking a bit sad, so it got cleaned and dressed. Apologies for the fuzzy picture, it’s a long story. I was particularly pleased to bring out the blue in the garden’s eyes with this ensemble of hydrangeas and fern in coordinating pots:
Next was the dreaded bottom of the garden, with a crumbling Victorian wall that said slum dwelling and all manner of hidden, dark creatures lurking in corners. Canopy and chair pads power washed, chairs painted, a bamboo backdrop, dressed sun loungers, pots heaved into place and some planters. Base boards of the wrought iron canopy painted to blend into the grey. Weeding all round!
Lastly, the front had to be brought up to scratch…wish I had before pictures, still waiting! A broken brick driveway was removed and overhauled (girl power!) and we laid 30 bags of fresh gravel. Porch washed and painted, dressed with box wood planter. Windows cleaned, balcony dressed with potted box woods. Front door now a nice glossy black but you get the idea here. A full front and back sweep:
Total time to transform: 4 days. The doctor has ordered 7 days in a hot bath to recover. Phew!