It’s the end of winter and it seems that almost everyone in London is vacating the city for some refreshing sun in exotic places.
Having enjoyed time in Munich, Austria and Madrid recently my good expat-Aussie self and hubby opted not to join fellow Londoners in the quest for sunshine and stayed home to prepare for the upcoming summer.
Putting down some roots
We are some of the lucky few in inner-city (Zone 2, for all you Tube travellers) London with a garden.
It is very large, secluded and private. Sadly, in a past life, it seems that it was also used as a garbage dump and previous tenants obviously didn’t care for it. To date, the only beings using the garden are the wood pigeons, next door’s cat and the skulk of foxes that have been wandering through on a regular basis despite the 2 metre high brick walls.
One recent evening (probably after a couple of drinks), the flatmates started to discuss how we could develop the garden into something useable once summer rolled around. We talked about painting the outside walls, laying grass and pruning trees. All activities I don’t think any of us have ever done before.
Getting on the grass
Like any normal London household, we have all lived a somewhat nomadic existence in the past and probably never invested time into a garden. I have never owned a property and I have never rented a property for more than 12 months. But since we like our place and we are planning on enjoying the next two summers here, we figured that it was time that we learned some (grown-up) skills and lay down some grass. From what I see of my friends renovating and landscaping their dream homes back in Australia, how hard can it be?
The first thing that we did was consult YouTube and gardening blogsites. Then we searched online for turf delivery, pavers and paint. Then we decided it all seemed too hard for short term gain – it’s not like we are not laying down roots, so to speak. We just want to make the most of the garden come summer.
Instead, we purchased a pitch fork, some hand spades, a couple of buckets, some lawn seed and several pairs of gardening gloves just to see what would happen. Over three days on two weekends, we worked in the garden, digging up weeds with roots over 40cm long and history you have never seen before. From the amount of rubbish we binned and the antique items we unearthed, I would think that it has been at least six decades since someone cared for this garden.
We pruned back the apple tree, but left enough so that we can hopefully make some cider with the apples that will drop in the months to come. We dug up enough bricks and pavers in the earth to edge two garden beds. And we transplanted (what look like) flowers to the garden beds that we created. We sprinkled grass seed and have been watering diligently.
I hope it will be worth it. Despite the back breaking effort, every muscle in my body aching and the sunburn (in seven degrees! How!?), I look out over our (half) finished garden, yell at the birds like I’m a grumpy old man, and beam with pride at the work we have done so far.
How does your garden grow-up?
It turns out that sometimes living in London is not all about parties, musicals and pop-up restaurants. Perhaps we are beyond the grown-up-gap-year. Could it be that we are growing up and putting down roots, just a little?
Now we just have to wait for the grass to grow (not entertaining at all), buy a cider press, and work out how much we can get on eBay for our recently acquired Victorian rope edge garden tiles made by Doulton in the early part of last century…
Also by Jacqui Moroney:
Read more of Jacquie’s Honeymooning Nomad series about life as an Aussie expat and visit her website www.neverendinghoneymoon.net