Throughout our time here so far, the view of our property and our surrounding land has sometimes been quite frankly horrific! I never thought I would have to endure the horror of so much mud... piles of pallets so high I could have buried the house in them, rubbish from the building and house renovation lying about, and just the general chaos that comes from doing what we are doing; Turning a blank canvas into a functioning smallholding.
I studied art and design in college, graduating to become and employed as a Graphic Designer which for a time I loved. But my passion for it dwindled and I took a different direction in life for a time. However the love of something laid out or designed well has never left me. I enjoy a nicely framed view, the colour of our windows against the textured white walls. I like a nicely laid out place, something that makes sense for stuff to be where it is. I love gardens, spaces with colour, light, design and structure. Creating spaces is just very satisfying for me. Somewhere to sit and enjoy a view, I'm planning a stone fireplace, which will double up as a BBQ as well as somewhere to sit outside with some extra warmth for cooler evenings. I've laid the patio, all out of slate found here, and some extra pieces dug up directly from under where it now sits.
Perhaps my passion for design and attention to detail is why the animal houses all have windows, they look like little cabins. The only one I dislike slightly is the dairy building, I was given UPVC windows and I've always preferred the older metal framed ones. They sit better with the look of the place. So one day I may show my obsession for this kind of thing and replace them.
This is all why you'll see lots of garden pictures this year on the smallholding social media pages. I like to add little touches of details such as tiny terracotta pots as cane toppers, ceramic bird feeders, in blue of course, to match the house. I've enjoyed making signs for the chicken coops which after their lock down I'll be able to take some proper pictures to show you. Perhaps my passion for gardening is the reason for me planting willow cuttings, with a plan to plant strong and rampant variegated grass in the chickens fenced off area, as well as the cala lily which we have seemingly grown lots of here in the ditches. I know that the chickens will eat some of it but there's something just lovely about them having some plants and texture to the area around the pond and softening the newly painted black coops with greenery.
I'm loving the rather larger project to create a wood/log storage area, somewhere to park the tractor up, stones under foot gives us a hardstanding and somewhere to cut the wood up, a large log store and somewhere to store the cut down trees and branches. As well as that I've got the area marked out for a double muck heap, accessible by the tractor but also with a barrow. I can't wait to see it fenced and with the gates I made and re-hung. I've planted willow and once its taken and grown I'll pull that over and create a nice living hedge/fence with bent willow. Even the utility areas are getting a touch of the design in them, I literally can't help it.
So that's why the greenhouse looks like it does, as much for my need to design and add some creativity to what we create and do here but also because people know I can re-use lots of items so I'm gifted things. Its just about figuring out what to do with it all.
So I've sculpted, dug, filled, moved rocks, de-contructed, built and created here. Everything is considered from where the muck heap goes to the bins. The views and the animal housing in view of the house as well as the view around us. Gateways, paths anything to make our lives easier. Even the septic tank area has been covered, fenced and organised, no longer just buried in the field where you can accidentally drive over it....which we did. Now when it needs servicing it can be easily got at and I don't have to dig at the grass to find it.
I've probably turned one fifth of the place to gardens and areas to plant up with perennials or turned to growing vegetables as well as my work areas with the poly tunnel. It's addictive and has caused me a few headaches already on how I'm going to be able to turn horrid rough pasture into fertile perfectly fluffy soil, but it's happening... A long border is being created, a whole 75mtrs of what promises to be hedging and perennials as well as vegetable plants such as pumpkins, squash, beet for the animal winter fodder and annual flowers for the insects. This follows the footpath that crosses our land so hopefully those few who walk our path will be able to enjoy the flowers that will grow there.
The window ledges at the front of the house are always filled with pots after winter, succulents and drought tolerant plants that can cope with the heat of the summer sun. I also have at least five hanging baskets around the food shed next to the house, as well as the six hanging baskets around the greenhouse so I'm always promised a busy year watering. Last year was difficult to keep up with everything as we dived into the job of re-surfacing the track and the driveway. This year there should be more time to steal 15 minutes away from everything to indulge in my gardening need and to water everything. While there is much to do to prepare the beds this year it will certainly not be as bad a weeding job as it was last spring. I'd allowed the nettles to overrun the borders and had to peel them up like carpets! This year there is more soil than weeds, and I can only hope my dahlias survived a less than perfect lifting and winter care.
This year promises to be bigger and better than last year for plants, I've got so much more to plant out and plenty more seeds to sow as well as a plan for more cuttings. All the time the trees will continue to grow and frame the views in the way I've seen them in my head since we started laying the place out. We look forward to sharing the progress of our little plot with you all and hopefully inspire anyone to add a touch of creativity to anything you do in the future...if you don't already.