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Diary of a garden rescue – an update

Three years ago we took on a garden that had a distinct character given it by its site, topography and the groundworks and planting by the former owner. Brambles in the ascendency, boundaries blurred by saplings and brick walls collapsing, we have taken the slow road to reclaiming and replanting. Last year I bought a greenhouse and it has swung into full use this hot summer. With mistakes here and there, we have raised plants and put them out into the garden. Amaranth growing on the slope in front of the greenhouse

I’ve given up my allotment plot so that our own – I guess we have about quarter of an acre – has to fit in everything – dogs, places to sit in the sun, vegetables, nursery beds, tortoise run, cold frames. Off the list went the chickens – just don’t seem to have the house room for them. I really want to muddle up vegetables with plants but dogs stymie this one. Next winter pear fencing will go round the vegetable growing area to keep them out. We have one raised bed where beans and gherkins have been sown beside clematis, a fruit tree or two and a rose. The randomness and counter-formality suit our small house.

The greenhouse adds a real element of experimentation. Some box plants, left over from a customer order and not to be wasted, got planted on the south facing bank. Every time I looked at them, resentment welled up. The Amaranthus caudatus germinated apace and have now taken leafy height over the box and added a jungle feel. Fruit and veg growing with flowers in Catharine Howard's garden

One of the great things about a garden that is not too large is that the glass cabinet approach can be taken, moving things around, getting shot of any that do not perform 100%. We have got galloping ground elder and bindweed so the battle to reduce them is on. Expensive perennials are on hold: the silver lining is in sowing and growing annuals in cleared weed patches. I have dug over small areas infested with the elder and sown with Pictorial Meadows’ Volcanic Mix from de Jager. Nigel Dunnett advises blinding off with sand before sowing. I didn’t and so the original weed seeds have got the upper hand. Knowledge for next year round. The bindweed is being trained up sticks, and when it is munificent I shall choke it off under plastic bags.

One bad thing happened this winter. Our standard wisteria tree rocked itself in the winds and then died. It is still has architectural beauty of a sort and its deadness is leavened by the meadow seed mix coming into flower round its ankles.Weeding and sowing apart, I am on the hunt for reclaimed bricks for our courtyard and path. At the moment we have concrete pavers laid above the floor height inside causing damp. The builder’s brief is that the bricks when laid should look as if they have always been there. Nothing new and sharp.

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