Growing up I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house, or more to the point a lot of time in their back garden.
My grandparent’s spent a lot of time and money crafting their outdoor area into a beautiful outdoor space, which features so often in my childhood memories. I’ll never forget the ‘water shows’ my cousins and I put on in the paddling pool. We would jump and dive into it as if we were on the world stage and intermittently, the eldest of my cousins would make us all get out so he could clean the grass out of it with the sieve he had found in my Nan’s kitchen cupboard.
We had huge water fights where we drew battle lines with washing line and Nan’s towels (my Dad helped himself to her guest towels one year and he never heard of the end of it) and attacked each other with varying super soakers. There was always a mad dash to Grandad’s prized hosepipe with the nozzle that had a million different ways to spray water and by the end everyone was soaked through, so my Nan would bustle around making sure everyone had a hot cup of tea, while we sat in front of Lassie until dinner was cooked.
One of my cousins would make elaborate dens at the end of the garden, with a pully that went all the way up to the back bedroom and we would smuggle biscuits into it, then whizz them all the way to the den at the end of the garden.
In the evenings I would always rush out after my grandad, pestering him to let me fill up the bird bath and help him deadhead my Nan’s much loved fuchsia. At weekends I would ride my hobby horses around the grass for hours and play swingball with my grandad, while my Nan pottered about in the kitchen.
Yes. My grandparent’s garden was a special place during my childhood and one that has made me want a special outdoor space for my children. So this year we have taken to making our garden a stage for memories.
When we bought our house the garden was on two levels, the patio was more or less a mass of uneven, concreate slabs, there were oddly placed, unsafe walls scattered about, some horrendous, weathered decking that took up a third of the garden and the fence at the end of the garden was a jumble of sticking out wood and rusty nails. It wasn’t exactly ideal for children and I was eager to get to work on it.
It has taken an incredible amount of work, but over the last year we have ripped up the decking, knocked down the oddly placed walls, dug the garden down so it is now on one level, put in raised borders, put up a new fence (complete with hedgehog hole), filled the garden with greenery, made a jungle themed sensory garden, built a pergola and laid two different areas of patio. The garden is no longer an oddly designed death trap, but is now a beautiful outdoor area, the whole family can enjoy.
There are several themes throughout the garden, from English country garden to hot tropics and I’ve even squeezed in a vegetable patch. It may not be for everyone, but I wanted the garden to be as interactive as possible, with as many different elements as I could squeeze in.
I love English country gardens, so one border has a strong cottage garden theme with lavender, foxgloves, echinacea, scabiosa, delphiniums, dianthus, geraniums and lupins.
I wanted a soft oriental feel near the pergola, so have planted Wisteria next to it with the idea of training it so it grows over the pergola. I’ve then planted, rhododendrons, azaleas, peonies, tree lilies and a small acer around it. Oriental and Japanese gardens tend to have a body of water in them, but as I have two young children, I’ve kept water to a minimum with just a small water feature for the time being.
I’ve always wanted to grow my own fruit and veg, so I’ve left some space for a fruit and vegetable patch. We’ve currently got blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, carrots, parsnips, runner beans, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, butternut squash and wild garlic growing at the moment. There are also a number of different herbs in the sensory garden. Seeing everything growing and having the boys help, has even lead to them eating more fruit and veg, which has been a nice bonus as well.
The jungle themed sensory garden (complete with mud kitchen) has been a huge hit and Oliver just loves playing in it. He is always pretending to cook in there and Elijah loves smelling all of the herbs growing in it. To be honest, I’ve just planted everything, then left it to go a bit crazy and it has grown into a really fascinating area of the garden. It’s a complete mess, with things growing everywhere, but it looks great and is a great place for children’s imaginations to run wild.
Next to the jungle garden, we left a part of the lower border for the boy’s small world play area. Oliver is really into trucks and diggers at the moment, so I’ve left it bare with just some toy construction trucks in it. As it has been left bare at the moment, it is currently a great spot for digging holes, which keeps Oliver out of the rest of the flowerbeds… most of the time.
Our new patio has been great for the children because they can now drive their Cozy Coupee cars around without the risk of toppling down a step. We’ve also got a Little Tikes toddler basketball net, a toddler climbing frame and a water table for the boys to play with. The boys do also have their own picnic table for when they have their friends over for lunch, a painting easel for our arty activities and we have a stock of family garden games to play, so there is always something to do outside.
It is so lovely to be able to sit outside and watch the children playing and exploring the world around them. The garden has become such a wildlife haven, that the boys come into contact with different bugs, bees, butterflies and birds all the time. My Dad kindly gifted us a family sized garden table and chairs, so at every opportunity we eat our evening meals outside in the sunshine. The pergola is a great place to relax in the evening and we spend nice evenings out there with a couple of glasses of wine. The garden has become another room in the house, meaning we now spend a lot more time outside, cherishing our time together and making memories.