Gardening Magazine

Working with Existing Structures

By Alternativeeden @markngaz

When we moved into our home the garden was a key consideration, and for an urban garden we ended up with quite a good sized plot.
The house was built in the mid 1930's and so has had many owners over the years, who will have lived, worked and played in the house and garden. The last but one owner, Richard, was very keen at DIY, and we understand an electrician by trade, but also a keen carpenter. He made various alterations to the house, such as an attic room and added several buildings and structures to the garden. Whilst some of his landscaping has long since gone, many other aspects remain, and I'm sure if he were to see the garden again there would be elements he would still recognize.
As you enter the garden one of the first structures that we are greeted by is what we refer to as the "Church Gate", a pergola with a tiled roof. We assume the tiles are original to the house, as the the house was re-roofed with concrete tiles at some point, but some neighbouring houses still have slates. We did have to add the finishing ridge tiles as Richard hadn't quite completed the roof.
The next structure to survive is a red pergola, when we moved in this was a mass of ivy, and Mark spent a significant amount of time reclaiming the structure from the vegetation. We added the bright red paint for a splash of colour! We need to undertake some restoration to the roof timbers later this year as one of the wooden cross supports is showing signs of decay.  
Working with Existing StructuresThe pergola led up to what was once a Koi pond (yes the garden had Koi in its distant past) however this did not hold water when we moved in, and we understand from neighbours that the pond had failed some years before. We filled this pond in to create our middle patio area.

Working with Existing Structures

The Middle Patio

Continuing down the path led to a large garden shed. This was a fantastic wooden outbuilding, fully insulated plaster boarded on the inside, with double glazing and its own electrical supply. Richard had used this as a carpentry workshop, and neighbours mentioned they would see him working on his carvings and carpentry late into the night!

Working with Existing Structures

The shed before we added the verandah

We added a verandah to the shed a couple of years ago (See here for photos of the construction) and now have a sheltered and secluded place to sit and enjoy a cold glass of something (or a hot mug of tea in the winter!).

Working with Existing Structures

Working with Existing Structures

A relaxing place to sit

Finally at the end of the garden, Richard had a pig pen and sty, keeping Vietnamese pot bellied pigs - apparently a gift from his mother in law. According to our neighbour, the first pig arrived pregnant, and promptly gave birth to a litter of piglets. Unaccustomed to keeping one pig let along a ready made herd, Richard wanted to re-home the piglets as soon as possible, unfortunately for Richard, events over took him and there was a temporary ban on animal movements due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. So for several months what is now our garden more closely resembled a farmyard than a garden (Richard also kept chickens and rabbits!). Once the ban was lifted all the pigs were relocated to a local children's petting farm. The rabbits escaped and a fox got the chickens. The gardens short life as a smallholding was over.
We couldn't come up with any good ideas on conversion, so the pig sty came down. It was built from sections of wooden telegraph poles, so these were recycled in the garden. The pig pen itself had been concreted (and this was 8-10 inches thick in places) so we decided this was too big a job to remove, instead we built our first koi pool and created another patio area. Secluded at the bottom of the garden, its perfect for barbecues, with the smoke a long way from the neighbours!

Working with Existing Structures

A secluded spot for a barbecue

 

Working with Existing Structures

A view towards the existing Koi Pond

In this area was also a normal garden shed which is used to house the filters for the existing koi pond as well as a secure tool shed.
We were rather fortunate to inherit several good quality structures and sheds in the garden, all of which still enhance the garden today. Whilst much of the planting has changed, its nice to know there is still a connection to people who had called our home their home.
Gaz


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