Garden Progress

When I’m feeling that it’s all too hard and the garden still looks scrappy, I get my photos out to remember how far we’ve come.

My body is screaming for a rest but, since I got back from South Africa in December, there has been such a lot still to do in re-setting up my garden. Some readers may not know that I’m working on our sloped site which was severely damaged 9 years ago by the earthquakes in Christchurch.

The rebuild has been a very long, complicated process – finally the end is in sight.

I’ve been doing a lot of ground levelling and clay soil conditioning on the cleared ground down the sides of the house in order to plant.

Our new, more sustainable home, was completed end of 2019, and I’m thrilled with it. For a year though it is the workspace of the architect but I have access to the site to set the garden up around the building. (I started the back edible garden two years ago before the actual build.)

So out come some old photos

Taken in 2011 showing complete collapse of the retaining wall on the left – onto my (then) rose and herb garden.
Left retaining wall rebuilt, old cottage removed from site – 2017
New retaining walls, new house build – August 2019
The start of digging and adding loads of organic matter into clay soil.
Various ferns and hostas, ligularia reniformis, Solomon’s seals – added last week.
Cannas, hydrangeas, various low growing perennials.
Not photographed – Acer autumn moon.

The other side

Disappointingly I’m not able to plant the right side of the house up this autumn. The soil is not compliant enough and I don’t want to risk losing plants … or damaging my back. Instead I’ve set up a large compost area surrounded by straw bales.

photo taken from above looking down

This serves a number of functions:

  • Gives my body respite this season from more hard physical work 🙂
  • The bales have been placed how I imagine the design layout to be so it’s working as a great visual
  • I can load it with organic matter from our autumn/winter clear up of the top garden
  • I’ll have loads of yummy compost for the lower garden … and I need LOADS!
  • Once I use up all that compost, hopefully the ground underneath will be more compliant for planting of blue berries, black currants and gooseberries. If not a raised bed will be constructed.
Looking a shambles in 2016 but showing the front and back sections on the sloping site.

Back edible garden all planted up – December 2019.

3 thoughts on “Garden Progress

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  1. Not sure I’m a fan of the house design (just not a fan of modernist architecture. That’s just a personal thing, though), but the work on the yard is incredible! Y’all did an amazing job- even if it’s not finished yet- and should absolutely be proud of it.

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  2. Thanks for the encouragement.

    When we bought the cottage years ago – the plan was to restore it but nature decided otherwise. It was hugely stressful waiting for insurance to pay out and then trying to find a builder for the rebuild (in hot demand because of circumstances). By 2018 I closed the lid on my scrap box of cottage ideas and ‘accepted’, for my sanity, this rebuild would never happen. I resigned my job and planned an extended solo trip overseas. Just before leaving, an architect contacted us with a proposal to build his prototype sustainable design on our site. (We would pay, of course, but got some good deals in the agreement).

    So while I was tripping overseas most of it was done. I let go of the need to have an input in every decision and must say it’s actually been a relief. It’s completely different from what I had imagined but we have a compact home on a smaller footprint (so more garden space); sited for the sun and views and with protected solar panels for power. We’ve still to have a rain water collection tank fitted but the idea is to live as zero waste, food and water sustainable as possible, without us completely morphing into hermits 🙂


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