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my starter for ten ...


I’ve hesitated about writing a blog in Grows on You – as a total newbie, what could I possibly have to say that anyone else would find even remotely interesting? I don’t even have “a garden”, as the term is commonly understood.

But at least I can write for myself, to read back and remind myself of highs, lows and progress of ideas, plans and dreams.

I moved into this flat in July 2010 – in nearly two years, it was the first place that the council had offered me that met my three non-negotiable criteria: ground floor with no-step access; garden; outside any flood risk areas (in Tower Hamlets, that last alone cuts out half the borough!)

The garden is pretty microscopic by normal standards, but it’s positively huge compared with some of the places they offered me – I wasn’t looking for accommodation with attached garden, I was looking for a garden with attached accommodation — I’d have lived in a tent if the garden had been big enough! Well, not really, but that shows my scale of priorities.

But I’ve now got my very first garden and it’s up to me to make the best possible use of it, given the restrictions of space, physical ability and finances.

Of course it will take time to find out what’s going to work best. I’m going to make a lot of mistakes – but, as the man said, people who don’t make mistakes usually don’t make anything. But I have the space, I have the time, and I certainly have the dreams.

Oh, do I have dreams! For years I’ve planned what I’d do with my garden when I got one, as I never (much) doubted that I would one day – I just hoped that that day wouldn’t come too late to be any use to me.

I’ve drawn layouts and planting plans and bought dozens of gardening books (I have an almost complete set of the Garden Expert range, plus stacks of others). I knew that any garden attached to an inner-city council flat would be a bit on the small side — I just didn’t’ think it’d be quite THIS small.

Now I have to scale my dreams down to fit the available space – there goes my mini-woodland and mini-stream and mini-streamside wildflower meadow. And I also have to scale down the plants to fit the containers I’m going to have to grow them in – there go my small trees and shrubs.

Of course I could scale right down: I’ve got some “miniature garden” books. But they talk about full-grown trees 6” high (under 10 cm in case anyone does bother to read this far!) and as I’m also severely visually impaired, would I be able to work to that small a scale? Especially to create a complete landscape that’s in harmonious proportion?

Ah well, that will come later. For now, work on what I’ve got, with what I’ve got — for as long as I’ve been buying garden books I’ve also been buying and storing planters, troughs and lots of other stuff “for when” and now I can get ’em out of the cupboard at last!

I finally got round to measuring everything – started several times before, and have so many rough notes all over the place that it was easier to start from scratch than to try to interpret the scrawls. Plotting it all on a Word table [or two, as it wouldn’t all fit into one, and then taking screenshots and pasting into Paint Shop, then trying to jigsaw them into one] was even more fun.

But here’s my “blank canvas”, ready to be drawn upon and coloured in. “Left side” and “Right side” were measured from the fnences to the corner of the lounge, to the right of the steps, marked by the horizontal black line – seemed the logical place to split the plan into two.

More blog posts by franl155

Next post: I'm going to pay for this tomorrow ...



A very interesting, well-written blog ..

Clever you to make the plan of your garden in so much detail...

It will be fascinating watching your progress ...

good luck ... lots of GoY members here to give you advice, ideas and encouragement...

Where is North, South, East, West ?
Do you get any sunshine in your garden ?

15 May, 2011


Welcome to GOY! You're full of enthusiasim for the new garden and that's just great! A garden can make life in the hussle and bussle of everyday life that little bit better! One way to make the garden colourful for your first year at not to great a cost is, to sow packets of annuals! They grow really fast and can make a loud statement, depending on which ones you choose! Good luck with your very own piece of the planet! Happy Gardening!

15 May, 2011


Thanks Terratonie. I'm in London, the East End, the wuff bit - turn right at Tower Bridge (if you're heading upriver!) and I'm a couple of miles down the road. I did try to get out of London, or at least to the outer fringes - I'm on medication cos of the wonderful air quality round here. But, sigh, unless my numbers come up and I can hand over a suitcase full of cash, no chance of that.

Though the garden faces east, there's little direct sunshne: there's a green beyond the gardens, with tall trees, so, oddly, I get more light in winter. The sun only shines directly from around 11-1, when the sun's moved round enough to shine down the line of the block.

I'm already a bit overwhelmed at the responses I've had so far - the last time I posted a question on a site it took three months for anyone to answer, and he was only sarcastic.

Checking my details, I notice that I joined GoY in June 2010 - I must have already seen and accepted this flat, because I was getting ready to garden a month before I actually moved!

15 May, 2011


thanks Helenium. lol my enthusias mmight wear off a bit once I start realising how much there is to be done, but I don't think so - this is one case where half a loaf is defintely better than none and I'm going to eat till I'm sick!

Sadly, the "beds" I have aren't usable: I dug out the left-hand one, meaning to put in plastic edging and so raise the level a tad, but I found a layer of bricks about 10cm down; I've not dug the other beds yet (my elbow still hasn't recovered from the first lot, and that was a month ago) but I've no reason to suppose they'd be any different.

The weeds don't seem to mind shallow-rooting, but I think that plants will. and I've got about thirty packets of seeds - some I've had for years which might no longer be viable, but there's only one way to find out.

If i can get access to the green beyond our gardens I have packets of wildflower seeds, meadow seeds, which I intent to put to use - so long as the council teams don't cut the grass just before the flowers are due to bloom!

but i've plenty of pots and compost, so I can try some seeds in containers - ha, why did I buy sunflowers?!

15 May, 2011


Welcome to Goy Fran/155! I can see you are going to have great fun putting your garden together, and having a plan already organised is a grand start! I can't wait to see what happens! Take care, happy gardening!

15 May, 2011


thanks Libet. lol "fun" as in slightly-masochistic "why am I doing this??" but the end result will give me the answer, she said with her fingers crossed.

15 May, 2011


Don't be afraid to write blogs. I never have much to say but I've written loads of them lol.
It was interesting to read about your new accomodation and garden. I wish you good luck in developing it . And look forward to future 'bulletins' on how it progresses :o))

15 May, 2011


flippin heck Franl155 you have a challenge there with your garden, but i have no doubt you will get it together, your enthusiasm and determination will get you there. Your books will no doubt help you choose the right plants for your shady bits lol. Good luck, enjoy, and let us know every single detail of your plans and pics would be great..

15 May, 2011


Even a garden without much sun can have lots of colour. Many of the early spring bulbs grow in woodland in the wild so will not mind the lack of sunlight in your garden. Primulas also like a shady spot and busy lizzies will positively thrive all summer. Then there are heucheras with coloured leaves which will love your conditions.

Good luck wth your garden - I am sure it will give you hours of pleasure

15 May, 2011


thanks, Hywel

lol I didn't want to risk falling into the same cateogory as those sad people with no life who write blogs and create elaborate websites that no one ever visits!

15 May, 2011


thanks for the encouragement, Youngdaisydee.

smiles, in some way it's even more satisfying to have such limited resources, cos I've really got my work cut out to make it work and that'll mean a lot more planning and that'll increase my input and so my eventual satisfaction - at least that's what I'm telling myself

15 May, 2011


thanks Andrewr

I do love spring bulbs - snowdrops and bluebells and crocus and daffodills. it hadn't occred to me that I could call the whole garden "woodland-esque" abd plant on that basis. that's given me something to think about!

15 May, 2011


And Ferns and Hostas Fran, you can't have a shady garden without them, and my alltime fave plant, the Treefern (they will give some height), i have 2, there just Amazing, if i were a treehugger, i would hug them all day long lol..

15 May, 2011


Don't worry about having a small garden - there are always plenty of ideas on GOY - if you have a look at "Small Gardens" or "Balcony Gardens" on this site you will get loads of ideas if you get stuck with what to do with it. Plus there's a whole lot of kind people on the site who can help you. Good Luck and Happy Gardening.

15 May, 2011


hello fran,i put up with no garden for twenty years and would sit and plan and daydream as you do,i moved into my council house a year ago and got the garden,it is hard and dont do what i did,went mental and bought everything i saw as i was that exited then put it in the wrong place and it all died on me,and ive had great help and tips for my garden from here,good luck on the garden and i hope to see lots of blogs and lots of pics,you get brill ideas on this site and everyone is so helpful,welcome and good luck chris

15 May, 2011


I know what you mean, Ladybug! I’ve had to exercise heroic restraint – even so, I’ve got so much stuff to do things with, there’s no room to do anything with them! But I’m trying to think “sort out what you’ve already got before you buy anything else”.

But it’s hard not to get carried away, isn’t it? you finally get the thing you’ve always wanted, you’re bound to fly high for a while; how could you keep your feet on the ground?

Lol in some ways I think we’re luckier than people who’ve always had gardens; we appreciate them so much more when we’ve been waiting for one for so long (I stand to be corrected by people who’ve always had gardens!).

At least there’s not much chance of me putting things in the wrong place – either the whole garden is the right place or I shouldn’t have bought it at all!

I used to get so depressed: from my 7th-floor balcony I could see so many gardens, and almost all of them were jungle; why give people gardens who don't appreaciate them? I thought. I even wrote to the council to ask if they knew anyone who couldn't manage their garden who might let someone in to tidy it, but never got any answer, sigh.

15 May, 2011


Thanks Mariek

I was steered onto "small gardens" and then I went through the entire alphabet at the bottom of the page, seeing what "ideas" pages there were and saving them to my newly-created but rapidly-filling "GoY" folder on Favorites. Just finding and savng the pages took ages, as for going through every pic ... grins, so much site, so much skill, so few hours in the day!

15 May, 2011


lol, Youngdaisydee, I AM a treehugger, of sorts. Well, I'm a pagan, and the Earth is - well, I don't woorship, but I certainly respect and love and want to interact as much as possible - getting dirt under my nails and an ache in my back puts a light in my eyes.

And my idea of heaven is an English (well, let's not get chauvinistic, European) mixed woodland, various trees and shrubs, a stream bubbling by, birds singing, insects humming ... in all seasons and all weathers, it's where I'd want to be. lol, you can keep tropical islands and palm trees and perpetual summer - okay to visit, but to live?

That's why I dreamed of creating a woodland-feel. I thought I'd have to give that up, given the space I have, but then again ...

There's actually a site that sells patches of woodland, and I've looked, and dreamed - but even if I could afford one, how would I get to it? something else to go on my shopping list when my numbers come up!

15 May, 2011


Good luck take your time and enjoy it.

15 May, 2011


You've got loads of enthusiasm, Fran and your dreams will become reality. You have waited such a long time to get your new home and I hope you have lots of fun developing your new space.

I hope you get the chance to sow the wildflower seeds in the council grassed area too...what fun :)

16 May, 2011


thank you everyone for being so supportive and suggestive - err, well, you know what I mean, I hope.

I'm learning that my enthusiasm must be tempered with restraint: I can hardly stand up straight today after the session yesterday.

But when I get stuck in, and it's starting to take shape - maybe not the shape I originally planned, but a shape nonetheless, I want to carry on as long as I can.

Because it doesn't hurt my back too much - at the time - I usually forget that it's going to get me later, and then some!

16 May, 2011


Don't forget there are lots of interesting small gardens in London that open under the National Garden Scheme - you could get lots of ideas from them as well

16 May, 2011


indeed, Andrewr, I've seen an annual book about gardens open to visits from the public, some of them private and quite small (the gardens, not the visitors!).

I can't remember the exact title of the book, but a general search on Amazon should find it eventually - think that's where I saw it last time. Or better, check out the National Garden Scheme directly.

smiles, I've been to places where I thought, Oh, yes! and then it was trying to remember them properly and then trying to integrate them with all of the other ideas which were also imperfectly remembered.

But (touch wood!) I've got time, and I can fiddle around, tweaking here and there, until I find the right blend to fit my space and my desires

17 May, 2011


Hi Fran

You can go on Google under NGS and find a list of all the gardens in your area which are open for visitors under the National Gardens Scheme.

24 May, 2011


wow, thanks for that, Mariek; i'll do that right now. well, in a few minutes *s*

24 May, 2011

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