The Geek’s Garden Part 3: In which I don’t get my 15 minutes

I haven’t blogged about the Geek’s Garden project for nearly four months now. You might think this means I’ve been slacking. And you’d be mostly right! In my defence, there were extenuating circumstances, and there is now some progress.

Not long after I last blogged. Monty Don tweeted out a call for gardens and their gardeners to feature in the 2016 series of Big Dreams Small Spaces. Getting advice from Britain’s Favourite Gardener™ is not something to be sniffed at, so I applied. And they responded! I was quizzed heavily over the course of a few phone calls, and photos of the courtyard were exchanged. Then they asked me to postpone any work I was planning, on the basis that if they were going to film us, they’d want to show the transformation, which would be very undramatic if the work was halfway done.

That process started in mid April. In mid May, one of the Big Dreams Small Spaces team came out and recorded an audition tape, featuring me and Coralie standing in the garden, talking about our plans, and a few closeups of the mess that was the current state of affairs. The whole thing was quite surreal. I don’t think I’m made for telly. Apparently, neither did the BDSS team as two or three weeks later we got a call that said we weren’t going to be on the show. C’est la vie! I was mostly annoyed because I’d delayed doing any work in the garden by more than six weeks, so I was raring to get started. Then it rained all through June, which is not conducive weather for dragging soil through your house.

I finally restarted the process of extracting all the soil from the back of the garden, but progress was slow until I bought started buying HippoBags. They aren’t what I’d call cheap, but they take up less space than a skip and they’re way more efficient than driving down the tip over and over again in a small car.

The state of things


That brings us up to the current position: most of the old paving slabs are up, the oven is still there but I’ve gotten rid of the copper piping, the spare tyre and nearly all the soil. I’ve had the first handyman round to quote us on re-paving (or decking, I’m really not sure which yet) and building the new fence to support the vertical garden. A lot of work which should have taken a lot less time. Still, lessons have been learned!


Aren't they nice? Look at that happy bumbler.
Aren’t they nice? Look at that happy bumbler.

I’ve finally made a decision on what to do with the western wall. I’ll be adding a two-seat arbour, running some trellis either side, and growing a climbing plant up the whole thing. On a visit to Kelmarsh Hall I saw them growing passiflora passion flowers which are lovely, but might not be suitably hardy. Time will tell whether I can get hold of some and keep them alive.