If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that we were disappointed when a much-anticipated wildflower meadow failed to materialize.
After that experience I decided to take a different approach. I became interested in permaculture and decided to learn more and apply some of its principles to my garden. It is the ideal way to garden for someone like me as I have limited time, I love experimenting and I admit to being a bit of a scavenger who can’t pass a skip without sticking my head in!
GATE BY GATE
When I was regaining my walking ability after my accident last year I measured my progress by the gates in our lane. Every couple of days I would aim to walk as far as the next gate, then the next gate, then the one after that etc., until I had walked the length of the lane – gate by gate.
So I am applying this approach to my garden and have realized that the best way forwardfor me is to stop worrying about planning the whole thing at once. I am working the garden bit by bit, this gives me plenty of time to observe and learn about the rest. It also means that the plan evolves slowly – pretty much like the way I am learning about gardening!
I think of this garden as a forever project and if this seems a bit long I’d say, great because I love gardening, besides, what else would I be doing? Watching crap on the telly? Reading about celebrities? Nah too boring…
So, starting directly in front of the house I plan to create a few small gardens within the acre of land that was supposed to be a wildflower meadow. I hope doing this will break up the view of overgrown grass and weeds until eventually they are no more!
There is a natural formation of rocks on the more southern side that I particularly like because to me it is like having a little bit of the Burren in the garden. I thought it would be good to extend this rocky area into a horse-shoe shape by growing some willow trees to form a living willow fence. These would also break up the cold blast of the east wind on to the raised vegetable beds. The rocks are to the right of this photographs to the left.
GROWING WILLOW IN TYRES
I planted the willow in tyres both for protection and as a way to place soil and organic matter in the exact areas we are planting. Bare rock is only a few inches below the grass here so digging down to plant trees is pointless. Below is what the land looks like when you remove the shallow layer of briar and weeds.
We are very close to the Burren here and we share its rocky landscape. People here usually have to buy in topsoil but I want to buy in as little as possible. I hope to create good soil by using organic matter. So, from our own house we keep all our vegetable scraps, newspapers, cardboard etc. I also invested in a shredder and am now shredding branches to add to our compost and use as mulch. Our chickens supply us with manure and their straw gets reused as well.
SEAWEED AND STRAW
We are only a mile from a great bay, which has plenty of seaweed and we also have access to fallen leaves in our nearby woods. We can get extra straw from a local farmer as I want to try out straw bale gardening this year – starting with a rose garden between the chicken coup and the septic tank. I heard roses love chicken manure!
We are lucky to live only a mile away from a great source of old tyres and it is good to put them to use. These could be painted but I am going to let them sit for a while because I have a feeling they won’t be visible for too long once the growing season gets underway again.
I have never done anything like this before but this March I am hoping to do a course in working with willow up in Irish Seed Savers which is a wonderful place in Scarriff, County Clare – so fingers crossed I get the hang of it.
WILLOW FENCE IN IRISH SEED SAVERS GARDENS
There is a short post about how I planted my living willow fence here. I have started another couple of little tyre gardens as well, and will post about them soon.