Our Seaview garden story

I have been much in the garden lately, enjoying some fine warm days.  And I have been reflecting on how our garden has grown with us – and what solace it has given.  But it has been hard work.

As I have written elsewhere, we inherited a garden that had been unloved, and grown wild. Wild Seaview garden when we first arrived The grass was long; some of the fencing had come apart round the oil tank; and in the corner you might just glimpse the sad remains of the plastic shed that had been blown apart in storms.

The first chore was to mow the lawn.  Stephen mowing wild gardenThe garden was well-fenced in.  This was useful while our cat Poe made her preliminary expeditions in her new territory, but meant we couldn’t see the view from the house.Poe exploring garden for first timeSo the next task was to reduce the height of the fence.  Then we could see the sea!  Lowering the fenceAfter that we replaced the shed.  This sounds an easy task, but was complicated by the fact that we were experiencing very strong winds at the time, and there was no way we could hold the large wood panels correctly in place with the wind blowing as it was.  Everyday we checked the Met Office forecasts.   A week later our opportunity came and we got the shed up.Stephen building the shedSitting in those pots on the patio were the plants and seedlings we’d brought from our old Devon home.  We now needed to make some flower beds in our new garden so we could give our much-travelled plants a new home.Seaview with the wild lawn tamedWe started with a large bed in the corner of the garden….. first bed we dugand that’s when we realised how hard it was to dig this ground.  Eventually we acquired a pick-axe.Stephen pickaxing new holeWe learned that digging flower beds here involved removing all the earth, clay and stones and rubble from the proposed spot, sieving it, putting back a little bit of good earth and buying a lot of expensive compost and top soil to refill the hole!Stephen inspecting a newly dug holesThis is why it was such hard work.

One of our neighbours kindly showed us some pictures of the old farm steading when it was being converted into homes.  This is our kitchen.  That pile of rubble behind the kitchen is our garden.  We further learned that our garden was where the tractor was usually parked.  To keep the mud under control, the farmer regularly tipped hardcore and rubble on this spot.  Aaaaagh!Seaview farm kitchen being built

Despite the hard work, we did finish the little beds beside the fence in time for our little seedlings to be transplanted there in the early spring.view out of garden to seaIt felt such a triumph to sit out in early summer as we came to the end of our first year here.Stephen sitting in the gardenThese little beds under the fence were still very empty, so we bought poppy and cornflower seeds.  This was the result in high summer – just amazing.first year crop of poppies We added a conservatory.  new conservatoryThis has been a huge bonus for us in windy, colder Northumberland, meaning we can shelter ourselves and our more delicate plants.morning glories around conservatory doorStephen put a lot of care into making raised beds to grow our vegetables inStephen building the raised bedsIn a few years we had transformed the garden with the addition of water butts and three raised beds.  new raised bedsAnd, of course, a greenhouse.Stephen putting up the greenhouseThis is the last garden bed Stephen dug.  Judging by his expression, I think it is the last he is ever planning to dig.Stephen beside new garden holeSuddenly it looked like a proper garden!plants growing well in raised bedsAnd we got produce from the raised beds.  Our first year carrots were a little curious.weird carrotsBut last year we had these beautiful courgettes …yellow courgettes from the gardenand tomatoes …tomatos from the gardenand chilli peppers too.chillis from the gardenI cannot believe that we now have what looks like a proper garden!  There is still often work to do.Katherine weeding the garden pathThe garden is now showing us that it has a mind of its own. How silly of me to think it is our garden.  Of course, it isn’t!  It belongs to the place itself …

Self-sown poppy seedlings are growing round and through our bench …Poppies growing through benchand in our raised veg beds …Poppies looking gloriousand in the lane …Wild poppy seedlings in laneNever mind, Poe can still do the fence walk …Poe doing fence walkand she can still find the bird water when she’s thirsty.Poe drinking from the birds' waterAs for Stephen and me, – well, we’re happy so long as we can still see the view.Poppies in the gloamingWhat we have tried to do, is build a garden where the plants we grow merge into the natural grasses of the fields around us. Garden merging into field

The essayist, Francis Bacon, was surely right when he wrote that “…[a garden] is the purest of human pleasures.  It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; without which buildings and palaces are but gross handyworks.”Poppies in the new garden bedHow lucky we are to have a garden for solace, beauty, abundance – and hopefully a lot less hard work!