Dead or Dormant?
At last, after a wait of almost 6 months, we are about to move into our new house! (banging of drums, stage off) It is a nightmare purchasing a house here, but finally, we are almost there. We have the keys, the painter is almost finished, the carpet-layer comes on Wednesday and our furniture will come out of storage next week. Break open the ‘bubbles’! Yippeeee!
We recently returned to England after 37 years in New Zealand and are now preparing to build our lives as retirees, blogging, doing some travel, may-be a bit of work and for me, learning how to garden in a country where death in winter is the norm.
Our new garden is very small and quite basic. All I have is a broken-down deck (plan to destroy in the spring), a relatively large, but flimsy, garden shed, some grass, a tortured (twisted) willow which hangs over the shed and a garden-bed running down the side of a fence which matches the shed in its flimsiness. This garden contains a motley collection of shrubs that are sadly neglected and which will probably become collateral damage and let’s not forget the 3 deadish tomato plants in a container and a plant in a pot that may or may not be loosely related to the rhododendron family, (the plant, that is, not the pot).
There is an exciting challenge here – if I were in NZ, I would already be out and about shopping for new plants (autumn is a favourite planting time where I was living) and of course, replacing all the tools I left behind. I’m out of my depth, though, as I know that there is a good chance there will soon be icy temperatures and probably some snow. I have never gardened in such extreme conditions, so I need to spend some time learning which plants can survive, which will just ‘die off’ and which will pass on to plant heaven.
Hopefully, I will gain an understanding and a ‘feel’ for the way things work here and for the secrets of the Kentish soil.
I have already decided that I am not going to have struggling cabbage trees. I felt so sorry for them when I saw them on a previous visit, weighed down with snow, their sword-like leaves limp and bent and with a wet, brown hue. Although I have seen beautiful specimens here, it is only the odd one and it just seems wrong, somehow. Hebes though, and pittosporums – that is a different matter and there will definitely be room for them.
I have, of course, already started collecting garden clippings to start off my compost. (Thanks to family). The small, soft-sided weed-gathering bin I bought is acting as a temporary holding bin for the bits and pieces I have collected and is doing a fine job. It will be easy to transport when the great day finally comes.
I have also been to our local council (Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council for those who may be interested in doing this) to enquire about compost bins and any special purchase schemes they may have in place. In fact, they have an arrangement with a company who will supply different items for very reasonable rates. I have chosen a ‘dalek’ bin, a mini-Rainsaver kit and a Kitchen Caddy just for starters.
The ‘dalek’ bin is 220ltrs and I have chosen this smaller version because I am short in stature and somewhat arthritic. Hopefully it will be a bit easier for me to handle. This is going to cost me £15.00. A second is available for only £7.00 but I think I will hold fire on extra purchases till I see how much stuff I am going to have to compost.
I am still deciding on the water butt – 100 or 190 litre capacity. They come with a lid, a tap, a stand and a rain diverter kit – i.e. they fit round your down-pipe and take the water that comes off the roof. Cunning indeed! Have just realised that I will have to measure our down pipe. Won’t be placing the order today, then! The cost of the small water butt is £28.90 and the larger, £38.95. The bigger one is less compact – a different design and not so unobtrusive in a small garden, but of course the extra water is good. The kitchen caddy is totally unremarkable – £5.25. and there is one delivery cost of £5.49. A good deal, I would say! If I had more space, I would definitely be taking advantage of their multi-buy offer – ‘buy one get one half price’.
My other immediate requirement is a worm farm and of course, some garden tools. Any tips on the best brands and value for money would be most welcome. Indeed, if you have any little kernels of wisdom to impart, please, please offer them below. I need all the help I can get right now!
Signing off in a bit of a daze!