Sunday, May 25, 2014

About my house

Before I start explaining what I am doing with permaculture, I should explain the history of my house.  It was built around 1850 as the gas works manager's house in Market Rasen.  The Market Rasen Lighting and Gas company had opened their gas works in 1837 and brought street lighting to Market Rasen, then a flourishing market town about 16 miles from Lincoln.  They built the Gas works house next to the gas works to house the manager and his family, and right through the changes of name and ownership for the gas companies (and into nationalization in 1948) the house was the gas works manager's house.
Gas Works House (as was)
In the late 1960s the house was sold into private ownership for the first time, and that couple lived in the house for many years.  The family I bought it from were only the second private owners of the house.

The house has a rather odd layout because it used to be linked to the gas works, which is no longer next door.  There is a small front garden with a wall and railings, two overgrown holly trees.  I don't think I will be able to grow food crops in the front garden, as it is close to the road, which is small but very busy - everyone uses it as a cut through.

After the wall there is a side gate and path leading down one side of the house, and then a gate to the back garden.  However, the side gate at the front is more or less redundant due to the fact that the wall which runs alongside the house is about 18 inches tall and nearly everyone simply steps over it.

Archway to loo on left, office on right

At the back the garden is more or less the width of the house, with a high wall all around it.  There are a number of outbuildings.  There is what is known as the office, which is in poor repair, with the ceiling come down and the walls crumbling inside, which is reputedly where the gas works manager used to pay his staff.  Next to that is a small archway, which is where we keep the wheelie bins, leading off to a lavatory - apparently he used to object to allowing the staff to go into the house and so had two loos built in the garden.  Only one of these is functional, the other loo has been removed and the little room used for storage - of that later.

The functional loo with heath robinson tap


On the other side of the garden there is what we know as the stable, which is simply a cupboard with a stable door.  Next to that is the coal house, which is full of a lot of junk at present.

Stable door and coal house door

There is a concrete patio type area outside the back door, with an alarming slope into the middle with a drain.  There are terracotta steps up into the garden here.  There is a very small lawn ranged around quite a tall cherry tree for the space.  Looking at these pictures, I am astonished by how much the cherry tree has grown in six months.


There are borders either side of the steps and some quite big plants within those - a lilac tree on one side of the garden, and a large forsythia on the other, which arches across the path on the left side of the Garden. 

Forsythia on left, looking down the path to the house


There are paths on both sides of the lawn area going up the side of the garden, and a path across from one side to the other behind the lawn and before the pond.  On the left hand side, there is a small patio lined with breeze blocky things, and I have constructed a bench for plants which like a lot of shade (I have box cuttings there among other things) which hadn't happened when I took these pictures. 

Small patio area


The pond is very overgrown, and has a crack somewhere - it gradually drains when we have a few fair days and then fills again when there is rain.  It also has leeches in it, according to the previous owner.

Pond and leeches


Next to the pond is a rock garden, which is pretty much overgrown with vinca - creeping myrtle.  Directly behind the pond is a hedged area.  The garden then splits... on one side there is a paved patio area and a garage behind, which is accessed from the back road. 



At the side of the garage is a border with established shrubs, and a terracotta pathway to another gate. 



On the other side the path continues through a redundant doorway to a composting bin at the back of the garden.  There are overgrown lilacs and a lot of overcrowded planting along the borders.  Between the two is a kitchen garden, which was covered in ivy. There were thick vines encircling the laburnum tree which was struggling to survive in the middle of the kitchen garden, next to an overgrown buddleia.  All the foliage on the tree is ivy.

Ivy strangling laburnum

The photographs I am showing were taken some months ago, and show the garden as it was a few weeks after we moved in.







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