Since February I have continued to build, paint, fix, plumb, plaster, saw, sew, knit and generally handmake our home... I have taken far fewer photos than usual but I have been focussing on enjoying the process, which can escape me sometimes.
Today I thought I'd give you a peek at what I have been up to specifically in the garden.
Back in March I built a willow den or 'Twig-Wam' for the kids.
I asked for willow cuttings on our local freegle group and was delighted when a friendly couple turned up at our door with several bags full of long willow sticks. (not as long as you get in the kits, but at a much better price)
This was my first attempt at a project in willow and I was on a steep learning curve. Small helped plan it out on paper first. We marked out the general shape with string on the grass before poking sticks of willow into the ground (the newspaper acts as a weed suppressant) The Twig-Wam features, as all the best dens should, a secret entrance, a tunnel and 3 windows.
Most of the willow is growing and it is now (July) in full leaf, though it'll be a year or 2 of weaving and pruning before it really fills out - next time I build a willow structure I will do a tutorial, promise.
During March I also put a serious amount of drainage in the back garden, where our patio will be.
Again a disturbing lack of photos, (sorry peeps)
I dug a trench by hand, around 18" deep and 18" wide (I used the water as a level for most of the trench before cutting through to our outlet) It is wet clay, heavy, sticky, messy work. Also it was raining... I just cranked up my iPod and pretended I was at a music festival... there may have been dancing.
I lined the trench with landscaping fabric and put a couple of inches of pea gravel down before laying and fitting a perforated 4" flexible pipe. Filled all around the pipe with pea gravel and topped it off with some more landscaping fabric and then hardcore on top to give us a base to lay the patio on.
John was mostly on childcare duty through-out, though he did wheelbarrow 2 tonnes of hardcore and 1 tonne of pea gravel through the house for me (big kisses for him)
We have had some very heavy rain over the past few months but for the first time since in 6 years we have no puddles in our garden!
Once that drainage was in I was able to start building and filling gabions which create the retaining wall for our terraced herb garden, and access to the rest of our mini-holding.
Gabions are easy to build and can be filled with almost anything (bricks, stone, rubble, logs, slate, even glass bottles) to create a strong retaining wall. They improve drainage and are great for wildlife and mini-beasts. They do look a bit 'industrial' and I am not averse to that, but I am hoping to soften it a little over time by planting some climbing and spreading plants in the crevices.
I still have a way to go obviously with the back filling and the laying of the patio but some of our herbs are already planted up and getting established over this summer.
The garden is a huge part of my life, having been the prime reason we bought the house in the first place. The vegetable garden, the polytunnel and the orchard have been somewhat abandoned while we have a very young child and concentrate on improving our day-to-day living conditions closer to the house. We will get back to it all someday.
As well as all that since February I have...
Continued to work on our lobby,
Continued home-educated both children,
Went on a walking holiday in the Lake District,
Painted some window frames,
Baked lots of cookies, bread and cakes,
Been a politics geek (and there has been enough politics happening in our wee part of the world to make a grown woman weep... several times over)
But also I've been a Mum, and a Wife and occasionally just a little bit a Me (that's nice sometimes)