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You know that thing you do when you’re selling a house when you rush round getting all the jobs done that needed doing for the last five years but you’ve never got round to? Just in time for someone else to enjoy the fruits of your labours?

Well I’ve discovered the same thing applies to the garden. Now – brace yourself: this is a bit of the garden I never – and I mean never – show people if I can possibly help it.

Here’s a ‘before’ shot, taken in June 2008 when it was at its absolute worst, of the middle section of the garden: the section we’ve been about-to do up for quite some time.

You can see why I avoided showing it to people, can’t you?

Over the ensuing two years progress has been painfully slow, but there has been progress of sorts: we’ve moved the shed which you can see to the right, and cleared the undergrowth and much of the junk. However it has still remained the bonfire spot of choice and the place where large loads of manure, sand and topsoil get dumped for want of anywhere else. My experience of this little wilderness has led me to form a firm belief that scruffiness just breeds scruffiness.

Anyway: the idea was always that there would be a central children’s play area to house slides, trampolines and the like (it’s opposite the wendy house) and I would plant it up with something cottagey around the edges.

The imminent prospect of dozens of people walking through my garden and seeing the scene of wreckage above has acted like a large box of nitroglycerine delivered beneath our backsides: and we’ve finally got on and done it.


Do you know what – it took about three hours to install it and was really, really easy. Hubby has also laid a nifty little path across to it since this photo was taken.

Now for the exciting bit: the plan is to rotavate all the spare ground around it and seed it with one of those lovely Sheffield mixes of meadow-style annuals from Pictorial Meadows. A quick fix akin to painting over the stains on the walls with a swish of Dulux: but much, much prettier.

It is so maddening that you always get these things done just in time to leave them behind. I would have saved myself a lot of abject apologising had I got on with it, say, two years ago, and I’d also have been able to enjoy those sparkly meadow flowers all for myself every summer.

I think there’s an aberrant and probably masochistic gene which only switches on when you begin moving house. I have it in spades: it impels you to demonstrate to yourself what might have been, had you been more efficient, more perfect, and just a bit less inclined to procrastinate.

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