When we decided to downsize from our smallholding to a regular house, we were not looking for a semi detached house, in fact we were after something with far more character. But, finding ourselves in need of a rapid move, we viewed this hosue which was in the right location. We were instantly swayed by the fabulous sea views, the enticing romantically neglected garden and the tasteful interior renovations that had already been done. We haven't regretted the drastic change from period smallholding to modern seaside residence for one moment and welcomed the opportunity to make it our own.
When we moved in the front garden had not changed since the property was built in the 1950's. It is fair to say it has never been pretty. What were once cheap and cheerful pink and green concrete slabs had faded to a sad, stained grey - it was earmarked for change on the first day we viewed the property. During the recent work carried out on the back garden we made it even less attractive by dumping a huge pile of top soil and rubble on it. A week or so ago we decided it had to go.
Our initial intention was to lift all the slabs but when we discovered that each slab had been laid on four or five inches of hard concrete we decided to just remove the outer edges and put gravel in the middle to cover those remaining.
It was hard work, at least five trailer loads were taken away by my other half and his trusty helper while I dug the borders and transferred the huge pile of soil to the edges. We slept very well indeed that night.
Next the new fence went in, carefully chosen to deflect the wind and (hoepfully) not blow away in the next gale! Over the next few days we put in a few plants - some grasses, a few roses, some hardy fuschia, and some azaleas that I know will survive because they've been out there all winter in pots. Whatever we plant has to be tough because during the winter we are often beset by strong northerly winds that are laden with salt blown in off the sea. As yet, it looks quite bare but the plants will grow up tough and those that don't thrive will be replaced by others more likely to withstand the weather.
John laid a raised edge to help keep the gravel from the flower beds and we then hauled a half ton of gravel from the quarry. The only big job now is the replacement of the nasty concrete steps with something smarter - the jury is still out on that. We are finally getting there. The front garden may not be remarkable but it is at least neat and tidy and people won't look at it with horror. We have had many complements - apparently the neighbours have been watching our progress and taking bets on what we will plant.
You might think we'd take a rest from it all now but no, he has already begun his next project. A bigger better and prettier greenhouse! I can hardly wait!