Thursday, May 5, 2011

Before and After

I do so love having a squiz at people's gardens.  Especially if there are before and after shots. I follow Sweet Bean's blog and she sometimes features other people's gardens before and after. And I remember when Enchanted Moments gave a tour of her garden.  And Missy and at the Greening of Gavin.  And I'd been thinking that I should do that - a tour of the garden. Or, even better a before and after tour.

I am actually rather proud of the transformation I've made in the backyard. When I first moved in with Monkey Man, he'd been here about ten years. The block had been owned by an old Polish woman who died. She'd planted a plum, avocado (don't get excited it never fruits) and three lemon trees and had a whole bunch of old chook sheds along the garden fence. She obviously loved her garden. But I'm afraid by the time Monkey Man had it for ten years and then I came along, it was a mess. Nothing but cooch grass and a few established trees. And then I rather hastily got pregnant and before I knew it the back room had been knocked down, we were extending and the backyard was a junk yard. It remained that way for quite a few years - as did our house. Not the greatest or safest environment for Eldest Monkey Boy to toddle about in. Check out these snaps.
Now, before I go any further, let me explain to you the trouble I have been to this morning to dig up these old photos. Following our renovation, our house is now comfortable, but it's not finished. Remember this post? There is a room upstairs that is one day supposed to be our bedroom, but for the past eight years (yep that's how long we've been renovating so far) it's been our junk room. Hidden from sight by a nailed up bit of material, behind which lurks this...
Going in here makes me feel a little ill and a lot overwhelmed.  Piled high with boxes of stuff that I'm sure we don't need. Not just our stuff, but stuff from Monkey Man's father who passed away two years ago and Monkey Man's mother who passed away sixteen years ago. And there are boxes and boxes of photos. I don't know about you, but once I start looking through boxes of photos I find it hard to stop. And photos from your lover's old life are sad but compelling. Why couldn't I have known Monkey Man when he was in his 20s and travelling the world? Is that another girlfriend? Just how many girlfriends did he have? Look how much fun he's having. How old is he now? How many years have I lived? How much longer do I have? Death anxiety... death anxiety... Quick get me out of this room!

That's probably enough insight into my mind-wanderings for one blog post. Back to the garden.

I was tempted to save my before and after shots until Spring or Summer when the garden is looking its best. To at least photograph it when the sun was shining, after the grass had been freshly whipper-snippered and after a bit of a weed and tidy up.  But I haven't. You know I'm impatient and lazy so I did none of those things. I decided to show it warts and weeds and all and on a grey day.  So here's a little tour of my imperfect, messy but transforming garden.
This is the first patch that I dug in the yard when Eldest Monkey Boy was about 6 months old. I love ferns and this spot is right outside the back window and shaded all year. We've had such a mild Summer that the carpet of baby tears didn't die back at all and it's creeping out everywhere. In the foreground is the pond we made in December.  You can see the plants have grown. The water is covered in duck weed and I have no idea if those fish are still in there but I still like it.  Now notice to the left of the pond - lots of weeds. And look at the back right corner. That's a junk and storage pile down the side of the house - plumbing pipes, timber, extra chairs, old doors. Oh, and you can also see that the architraves around the windows and doors are only half painted. Sigh. I really ought to be painting instead of anxiously rummaging through old photos and blogging.
This is the view from beside the fernery at the back door.
And here's a bit more of the back taken from in front of the table. Check out how much that protea has grown. Look back to the second before photo when Monkey Boy was a toddler, he's standing beside it there. I got the big, colourful flag last month from the Melbourne Garden Show. It's probably a bit gaudy but it'll look better when the veggies start growing up around it. The two big sticks are from a  tree that died out the front. I convinced Monkey Man that an arbour to walk through to the second part of the garden was a good idea and he came up with this suggestion. Unfortunately, nothing I've yet planted will grow up it. Every creeper seems to die. Any suggestions? You can just make out the chook run along the back fence and under the trampoline. They also are free to wander about to the right of the trampoline but they don't. I have no idea what's wrong with them because there is a lot of grass / weeds that I know they like to eat. I think they like the security of a roof over their heads and are too timid to venture to open space. Either that or they're stupid and can't remember how to get there.
This is not a very attractive shot but in an effort to be accurate and honest I'll show you anyway.  It's taken from the back door and looking to the right. Where those pots are is the herb garden. Usually there are also a bunch of veggies growing there but I recently dug up my failed pumpkin vine so it's looking a bit bare. If you look closely you can see the teapot hanging from the lemon tree. This is the same teapot that Eldest Monkey Boy was toddling about with six or so years ago in the first before photo.
And lastly, here's the view from beside the flag looking up to the house. The veggie patches are bare but I did notice a couple of broad bean and snow pea shoots just poking their heads through the straw. And yep, that is how I leave the hose. No careful rolling and tidying in my back yard I'm afraid.


  1. Thanks for that, I too love a tour of other peoples gardens, I might do one myself at the weekend.

    I love your sculptural elements and things like old teapots hanging up, I am always bringing home old kitchenalia from Op shops to use in the garden.

    I do sympathise about the junk room - we don't have anywhere like that because we have moved so often but I think that once it gets to those proportions it is almost impossible to start. You need a friend (or even a complete stranger if you have loads of money) to help you sort it out and be ruthless.

  2. Wow! I see the problem you have had to cope with... In the circumstances, I think you have done a grand job. Maybe you could get Hazel over for a while and see if she can transform any of your leftover bits and pieces into an outdoor kitchen or something?? :)

  3. I'm still laughing, what a morning you had in junk room,and most impressed by the wood stack!

  4. Thanks for that - it is always nice to get an overall view to put all the garden stories into perspective. I like the way you have little wandering pathways. Gosh I wish I could grow proteas.

  5. Oh yes Greenfumb please do your tour. I'm figuring that if the boxes stay for long enough I won't have to actually go through them, just ditch. Because surely there will be nothing important there after so many years! Yes Mark that might be a good idea. But maybe you could fly on over and neaten me up. I've seen your garden and I know you're the man for it.
    Thanks M.K girl.
    Glad you're laughing Andrea. I was starting to worry after Monkey Man read this post this morning. He reckons that people might not quite get this post and that they will think I'm bonkers (I might just be).

  6. I *LOVE* it! I love that your garden has a story and is full of personality. I love that you show it when it's not at its perfect peak - don't all gardeners have a mental visual image of what they'd like their garden to look like, but it never quite gets there? (Maybe that's just me, though!) and I love your walkways/paths too. :)

    And if that's not enough loving for ya, I'd love to feature you on a before & after too. :) I'll email you!

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  8. I am so impressed by your 'warts n all' tour. Maybe I should summon my courage and to a 'real tour' of my place. Maybe...
    have you tried a sasparilla up the arbor? Or a banksia rose...that would look good too.

  9. Well done, lots of work there... and you have just reminded me that I haven't planted the broad beans yet!!! Help!!!!

  10. I value the information on your web site. Thanks for your time!


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