COLUMNIST: ANDY PEASGOOD
The garden is real life cinema - honest, brutal, inspiring, and gripping. It gives in abundance for short periods of time, only to then take it away with just a silhouette and memory left behind. It is truly remarkable.
I began with several ‘areas’ of soil. Compacted clay was the core and when dug into, it was like a pass the parcel of builders’ surprises. The most common artefact found in my soil was the nozzles from silicone tubes, alongside various metal objects, a rather large metal attachment for some machinery, and an even larger portion of an old wooden telephone pole mast. All swept under the carpet, or should I say turf! This is where I had to start and I would recommend anyone to start with the soil.
Drainage was key for me, and the landscapers I employed installed a perforated piping system that concluded in a sump in the bottom corner of the garden. It has been well worth it as I often see people asking on various forums about what to do with their turf which is now water logging since installation when the landscaper advised that there was no need for drainage. It is a real shame for those having that trouble who now have to pay out double for the issues to be rectified. So make drainage one of the first points of exploration.
Our landscapers were employed for excavation, drainage, and laying of the path and patio only. Everything after that was, and still is, done by me. On our 8x6 metre plot, the landscapers work finished up within 5 days. It was quick work and it was lovely to have a patio to sit on so I could start enjoying the space. This helped me feel the garden and make more informed choices and vitally, it allowed my daughter to enjoy being outside safely.
The first real project I undertook was to dig out the borders - my back is still angry with me for this. Whatever planting scheme I was going to choose, I knew that was the opportunity to improve the soil as there was no planting in the ground. Armed with a spade, I dug out all the rear garden borders by hand and mixed in organic matter. To improve this I also bought some Lob Worms from an online retailer to put back into the garden so that they could take the organic matter around the borders.
Prepped with the solid foundation of a garden, it was now time for me to be a gardener.
A dividing fence (post and rail style), sub base, gravel, potting shed, and raised vegetable beds were installed into the rear portion of the garden and soon took on the name of the ‘Working Area’. In our first year we grew baby carrots, baby corn, and salad leaves. There was a lot of work yet to do in the garden and we did not want to overwhelm ourselves.
The following year we grew the bean ‘Purple Teepee’, raspberries, and salad leaves again. This year we will fine tune what we will seasonally eat as a family.
In the first spring I planted geum, nepeta, achillea, echinops, veronicastrum and verbena which soon created a rich tapestry of colour and shape, whilst Luzula nivea and heuchera are happy in some of the shadier spots.
My personality does not see me sitting still for long and I am always on the lookout for the next project, and they soon came. In no particular order:
One may look at my garden and say surely that is it, but it never will be, and I have barely even touched upon the vertical spaces yet which are vital for smaller gardens.
It is a sheer pleasure, but if I were to give some starting advice, I would say this:
Enjoy your garden, for it is tomorrow.
Andy Peasgood is a former Principal Dancer with Scottish Ballet and a keen gardener. His performance career is fast-paced, and he finds balance in the garden with particular interests in planting for wildlife.
In his regular column, Andy takes us on the journey of creating ‘A Garden From Scratch’.
Follow more of Andy’s garden on his Instagram feed at @andypeasgood.