I have been looking after the garden since we moved in, trying to keep it tidy, weeding out things I thought I should, looking after the lawn and borders. I've been keeping watch to see what grows in the borders.
Things were beginning to look rather different by April. A lot of plants had sprouted, and it was clear there were a lot of bulbs - daffodils, grape hyacinth, hyacinth, tulips - in the borders around the lawn in the back garden.
The front garden also had some bulbs, but the major change was that wild geranium was sprouting at an alarming rate. There are some shrubs like cotoneaster, gorse, a few roses were beginning to sprout, and an awful lot of stuff I didn't recognize.
I began to realise the changes that had been made to the gardens. The retaining edging tiles had mostly been removed from the borders in the front garden, and had been used to shore up the borders in the back garden. They were laid horizontally instead of vertically, two or three deep next to the terracotta tiles in the back border. When I started moving them, I found that a lot of soil had spilled over and was thick with earthworms and woodlice.
The removal of the edging tiles in the front garden meant that soil was spilling over there too. I have an immense amount of edging, flooring and paving material in the garden, as well as rocks and bricks, and broken versions of all of those. I certainly have enough to replace the edging, but I think the reason they were removed in the first place is that over the years the organic matter added to the borders had made the eath level higher than any of the retaining tiles.
I'd started researching the idea of permaculture, and was feeling rather lost. I don't want to rip the whole garden up, I like it! I just want to make a gradual change to permaculture principles, working with nature, planting things that work well together, and bringing more food crops into the garden.
I decided that the first step was to observe what was growing in the garden and what insects and creatures we have too. Things that are flourishing include vinca, ivy, couch grass, dandelions, daisies, lilacs.
Mind you, show me a garden in England that couldn't make a success of that list of plants! They all like poor soil... and maybe that was a clue.
I have a lot of birds in the garden, especially a pair of robins, a pair of wood pigeons, and a group of sparrows.
We have a lot of insect life. The compost bin is alive with insects and there are a lot of earthworms everywhere. There is a hedgehog living in the garden too - and his work in ridding me of snails and slugs is greatly appreciated. There are frogs in the garden too, although they keep away from the pond and mostly sit in the cool of the stones lining the kitchen garden.
My first step was to try to get rid of some of the vinca, and Kim and Ali worked hard to remove it. I planted some alpines in it's place, although it has grown back strongly on the other side.