Downsizing House, but Upsizing Garden!

Downsizing House, but Upsizing Garden!

Only six weeks to go, if all works out as planned. We are so excited, like little kids.  We can’t believe it, but we are buying a house much smaller than our 3-storey Victorian house, with a garden so long that you can’t see our 1920’s house from the end of the garden.  We went for another look last week, and Erik walked to the far end of what will be our new garden, then took photos of each section as he walked back to the house. I’ve already planned out what to grow in each section.  See what you think.

The far end of our new garden.

This, and the next section will be part of our mini-orchard.  We want to grow apples such as the strawberry-flavoured Worcester Pearmain, the traditional Bramley cooking apple, and the intensley pink Scrumptious. And pear trees, especially Doyenne du Comice, the perfect pear for desserts, and the aromatic Beurre Hardy. Eric wants a Damson Tree to extend his range of jams, and I’ve always wanted a Sweet Chestnut Tree so that we can eat the lovely sweet Chestnuts, and make great desserts with them.  We have a wonderful Mulberry Tree that is fighting to come out of its tub, so into the soil it will at long last be planted.  In time, it will grow huge, so I will have to work out the best place for it so that it does not cast too much shade over our smaller fruit trees.

Almost at the end of the garden …

This section will also be part of our mini-orchard, maybe with a Morello Cherry tree, and the juicy Sunburst Cherry.  Cobnut and Filbert trees will give us more nuts (I just love eating nuts).  Juicy Plum trees could be planted in this space – luscious pink Victoria,  and the deep purple Czar.  But in summer I want this area to be a wild-flower meadow, with a path weaving through the fruit and nut trees.

Wildflower Meadow – courtesy of MAS Seeds

Overflowing  with cornflowers, poppies, daisies etc,  peeping through the delicate heads of some lovely grasses, so I am definitely going to be scouring Sarah Raven’s catalogue for her selections of seeds. Sarah also writes up how to create the Wild Flower Meadow, which will be incredibly useful to me.  I’ve always loved the look of these meadows, but never thought I would have the chance to create one. Just so excited.

The middle – could this be my Kitchen Garden?

This middle part of the garden is going to be my Kitchen Garden.  When we were looking for a house, I thought I may not get the chance to create another Kitchen Garden, but happily we will have enough land to do just that. I’m already browsing the pages of Thompson & Morgan’s catalogue for my fruit and vegetable seeds and plants.  Imagine here our raised beds for carrots, parsnips, leeks, garlic and loads of interesting salad leaves, (Sarah Raven has a brilliant range of Salad Leaves), the chance to make another Asparagus bed, room to actually grow potatoes, tiny new ones to cook with my own mint, medium ones for salads and lovely big ones for roast or chips or Jacket potatoes. Plus loads of room for Runner Beans, Broad Beans, Kale, Mange Tout, Onions and Shallots – in fact enough room for just about any fruit or vegetable we fancy.  Can’t believe it.

More of the middle garden.

This next bit is near the shed, and will be more of my Kitchen Garden, with probably a small fruit cage for redcurrants, whitecurrants, blackcurrants and my favourite Gloire de Sablon pale-pink currants. (Click to see the fruit from Thompson & Morgan). Raspberries, red and gold, and a new one to try, the purple Glen Coe will be strategically placed with suitable posts and wire to hold them together. Maybe large juicy Tayberries or Loganberries, and we’ll see if there are any Blackberries growing in the hedgerows.

I just love growing Artichokes, such as the beautiful Violetta di Chioggia  pictured below.  These plants take up some space, but are architectural as well as tasting  very special.  It’s amazing how many recipes I’ve found using Artichokes.  And Sarah Raven recommends spreading the Artichoke season by first eating Violetta di Chioggia, then the mid-season Green Glove, followed by  Gros Vert de Laon’, after which Violetta is producing its second lot of plants. Click here to see Sarah’s Artichokes.

Beautiful Artichoke, Violetta di Chioggia

At the back of this section, not easy to see because it is so overgrown, is a small sunken garden, lined with stone.  We’ll have to be careful with the grandchildren there – don’t want any cracked heads. But we will see what it’s like.  It may be an interesting feature.

Getting nearer the house now …

As we get nearer to the house, I want this area to be stunning in Autumn, full of different shades of bronze and scarlet, to be seen from the house.  There are wonderful trees in the garden, and a lot of shrubs that need a good bit of pruning.

Acer Griseum – The Paperbark Maple

But I’ve promised Erik that we will buy an Acer Griseum, with it’s amazing peeling copper bark, and it’s Autumnal glow of shimmering orange leaves which change into the most luminous glow before they fall. This tree takes my breath away, when I look at it in the Autumn light. I also love architecural shrubs, such as Twisted Hazel, with its twisted, contorted branches, great for Christmas twiggy decorations as well. I would cover this in solar fairy lights for winter, so that we can see it from the house.

So that’s where our house is!

Here it is at last.  Our house to be.  This part of the garden will be full of small trees, shrubs, bulbs and flowers.  We hope to add a single storey sort of garden room on to the back of the house, on the right hand side as you look at the picture.  As the back of the house faces South, this new room will have maybe a big window seat looking down the garden, and big doors opening out onto a patio – maybe a veranda so that we can sit outside even if it is drizzling.  Come on … it is England!  We have to allow for all weathers.

We also would love an Outdoor Kitchen, to house my Wood-fired oven, (or a built in Jamie Oliver Wood-Fired Oven), the Barbecue and somewhere to cook undercover even if it raining.  It may be a thatched roof hut on big wooden legs, who knows.

Thatched Garden Shelter – maybe our Outdoor Kitchen?

So, Downsizing House, but Upsizing Garden!  Are we mad?  I know I’m going to have to work really hard at creating this, and if we achieve 3/4 of our dream, we will be very happy. Just watch this space and I will write about all our endeavours (if I have the energy left), and I look forward to what it will look like in just one year’s time.

More seed companies that I use:

The Real Seed Catalogue

Nicky’s Nursery


Kings Seeds

The Organic Gardening Catalogue

Jekkah’s Herb Farm


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2 Responses to Downsizing House, but Upsizing Garden!

  1. Georgie Porgie December 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Can I come to help? Please think about a Concorde pear tree. They are quite crisp but delicious. Ours is not very big but has presented us with absolutely loads of pears each year (apart from 2012, but it deserves a rest after working so hard in previous years).
    Also think about the beautiful silver birch “Jacquemontii”. We were bought one for our slver wedding (nearly 20 years ago) and it is so beautiful, especially when the sun shines on it showing off it’s pure white bark.
    Lots of love – Gina xx

  2. Astrid December 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Thanks Georgie Porgie, for your suggestions. All welcome. The Concorde pear tree sounds great, and also the Silver Birch. Have to cut down loads and trim even more for the sunlight to get in, but the more the merrier can come and help, providing they have their own secateurs. Love Astrid XXX

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