Living in an ordinary suburban house is not really suited to the archaeologist by nature. I should be living in a dramatic historic building with sweeping grounds featuring ancient monuments and things. Anyway, here we are and we are at least lucky in that we have our own house, many of my friends don’t, some still travel about the country with their tent. Thank goodness for facebook or I’d never manage to keep in touch.
I must admit I’m a rubbish gardener, I’ve read books and books on the subject. I can identify loads of plants and animals without need for keys. I cant seem to visualise the final effect of chopping and planting and to be honest I think we have ruined the look of our garden, the steady decline happening year upon year. Still, the wildlife like it and we do have a nice colony of bats in our bat box, plenty of reptiles, bees and butterflies.
Several years ago I planted some tiny lavender bushes in our front garden, they quickly established themselves as a large bush and attracted hundreds of bees. It was beautiful and neighbours remarked how amazing it was. However, over time the bush took over the pathway and when I cut it back I was left with woody sticks, a mess. Something needed to be done.
I decided to use some reclaimed scaffold boards to build some raised beds and have a bit of fun this summer. The end result was an amazing display of sunflowers (above), I’m not sure I’ve ever seen taller ones and plenty of tomatoes (currently green). I don’t know what to do with it over winter.
Where we live the front gardens are all immaculately presented and people spend a lot of time on their marigolds and violas. This is a radical departure, but surprisingly the vast majority of people have been really enjoying it. I have had countless pensioners stop, chat and offer advice. Several have remarked how they are enjoying watching the stuff grow from seeds each day. I really think it has actually made a few smile and think about using their gardens in a different way.
Last night I realised I had a surplus of eggs (again) our hens tend to lay an egg each a day, which when you are no longer making cakes means there are plenty spare. Chicken keeping has been an interesting experience, they really are a joy to watch and the eggs are lovely but they are noisy and I wondered if the neighbours were getting a bit cross. But no, there was much delight when I rang the doorbell offering fresh free range eggs.
I’ve not had a lot of time this year, but we seem to have been successful with rhubarb, raspberries, sweet peas, onions, marrow and pumpkin amongst other things. Its a real joy to be able to eat your own produce, I’m not entirely sure whether it actually is money saving on our scales. I think the eggs are perhaps the most expensive you’ll ever eat by the time you factor in the cost of hen food. However, there is something lovely about being able to offer others your surplus produce and to eat your own.
I haven’t got my dream small holding, I have a really small garden which looks a mess. However, its amazingly productive. The question being, should I go even further next year and grow even more? Should I start wearing dungarees and a headscarf? Am I turning into Barbara Good?