Everyone meet Jane! Jane has been a part of the Horkans team for over 20 years. Jane and her family have undergone a massive journey over the past 2 years. They have transformed their home into a modern and tranquil space, suitable for their growing family and their varied needs. The house is now complete, but the garden? Not so much!
Here you can read, in her own words, Jane’s ongoing journey of turning a jungle/building site into a glorious outdoor living area. Here, Jane tells us her story…
Jane’s Journey Of Transformation
In 2002 I bought a ramshackle old, very small cottage in the countryside near Belcarra. It was very rough and ready. There was no central heating and the windows were very old and drafty. I completed these jobs and settled in with my two dogs. We fell in love with the place! It had great character. I loved the old lumpy walls and the many nooks and crannies.
The cottage was nestled on nearly an acre of land. There wasn’t much of a garden, just lots of green space. There was a bit of woodland and at one stage a small but proficient vegetable patch.
Fast forward 12 years and the house had become a little more ramshackle. There was also 3 more lodgers. My two growing boys shared a room, not much bigger than a match box. There was also no space in the kitchen. It was time to take action! A small extension soon turned into a complete re-build, which saw us out of the house for nearly two years.
After 2 long years we were delighted to be back in our beautiful, shiny, new home. But the garden took a bit of a battering. Now, we are slowly but surely trying to tackle the garden. One step at a time, with no real plan and a very small budget.
To Tree Or Not To Tree!
The side of the garden was adorned with beautiful, old trees. However, they were blocking the light coming in to our kitchen, via the patio doors. Everyone who visited had different ideas about the trees. “Cut down the trees and you’ll have a lovely view” was one opinion. “Those trees are lovely and you can’t get rid of them, if you do you will lose all the shelter” said another. Many a heated debate was had about the trees. Personally, I didn’t want to get rid of them, but they did block a lot of light.
Eventually we decided on a compromise! We chopped off the lower branches. The difference was immediate and drastic. The natural light coming into the kitchen increased dramatically and everyone was happy! We were now able to relax in our new kitchen, watching the beautiful sunsets through our lovely, still standing, trees.
Rockery N’ Roll
What do you do? When you are left with a pile of rocks, rubble and bits of knocked down 120 year old cottage and a muddy bank? Well obviously make a rockery! This project started long before we moved into our new house. The bank had been dug out to clear space at the start of the build. It was a great way of getting rid of the copious amounts of rock. But what was left at the end was basically an eyesore.
It took a few days of hard graft to fill it up with rocks. We were really pleased with the results. We had planned to plant it up with alpines but it was a little too late in the season so this can wait until the spring. I did throw in a few nasturtium seeds which came up but again this was a little late in the year. We decorated the rockery with solar lamps, these were really pretty on summer evenings.
We also have our resident goats head ‘Norman’. This was given to us as a gift from a dear friend of mine. After much deliberation we decided that Norman would just not look right anywhere in the house.
I was very reluctant to get rid of him. So we decided to put him amongst the rocks. He had his own solar light and he looks pretty funky. Who knows Norman could be just the start of an animal head themed rockery.
Sanctuary In The Garden
As you may have guessed from my ramblings, none of the garden was planned. We really took things as they came and made things up as we went along. However, there is one small area that I have a definite plan for! This is going to be my space, my small haven of peace and quiet. This particular space is at the back of the house, looking out across a green field. During our beautiful summer, this area would catch the last of the sunshine – the perfect setting for a G&T!
In this area I decided to try and recreate a wild flower area. Hopefully, this will attract butterflies, bees and other insects. I cleared all the weeds that were here and back-breakingly raked them all out. I sewed country meadow grass and wildflower seed mix. To add some colour and zest, I added an extra few poppy and cornflower seeds.
Slowly but surely the grass is coming through and hopefully by next summer I will have wild flowers insects joining me for my evening G&T!
Just like I need my own space, my two active, football crazy boys needed theirs… this brings us to the next part of our project.
Football Crazy In The Garden
With two pre-teen boys, obviously one of the main things we had to get sorted asap was an area to play football. Now, it was definitely a project for all of the family.
The boys football field hadn’t survived the rebuild too well. It had become a little overgrown and it was full of holes from our neighbours cows called round to say hi. So the grass was cut and the boys were set to work filling in the holes with sand. It took a good few days for the grass to green up and start to grow again. The main thing is the boys have a place to play football.
There was also an area beside the pitch that was mostly brambles but we had a few lovely vibrant orange crocosmia. This small patch was completely chocked with weeds. Those weeds that are covered with those tiny sticky balls – which weeks after clearing I am still finding stuck in my pockets!
As I mentioned earlier there was very little budget for our garden. Hence, I was picking up a few end of season bargains whenever I saw them. Before the build we had a beautiful fuchsia marking the boundary of our garden. Sadly this was they first thing to be pulled down to make way for the builders and their machinery. Now, we have a new bank (where a wall was taken down to make for a septic tank). I was determined to get my fuschia’s back, so I planted a couple of my bargain-buy small fuchsias. So far, they are doing well. Hopefully they will spread and grow during next spring and summer and fill up some space.
Among my bargain buys was some primroses. These, I have planted into a wall and a wooded area. After a long, hard year of digging and clearing, it is nice to finally be able to sow and grow. The sight of purple flowers blooming on my primroses brought sheer delight! It really is the little things in life… Planted so late in the season I was excited to see the new growth.
Over the last few months our focus has been on the new addition to our family, our little Maltipoo, Lexie. She has quickly become the Queen of our Jungle.
So, here’s to new beginnings – a New Year in our new home with our new garden, full of new growth and new possibilities.