The International Steam Pages

Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin, 2012

For convenience I have now grouped lifestyle illustrated features by topic:

This page is just one of several describing aspects of our '2012 new life', for earlier and later pages use the West Gloucestershire link above.

We returned from Penang in March 2012, to discover a mass outdoor sex orgy taking place in our pond. At the front, the daffodils were doing their best to ignore the unseemly behaviour:

The brutal truth was that parts of our estate were more than a little tired. The retaining wall in front of the house was bulging ominously and the garage roof was completely rotten. Both had to be replaced at great expense followed by a quick overhaul of the main roof, the first two are immediately obvious, the latter not. The banisters up the steps were a DIY job and the new flower bed at the bottom was a lot more work than it might appear.

Tidying up doesn't always please the wildlife, a slow worm had made itself at home in the moss over the rubble at the front and was gently relocated. With mass slash and burnings a thing of the past, the compost heap cum bonfire area has reverted to a vegetable patch and the odd frog has hopped off into the jungle next door. The rhubarb was inherited, the beans were a job lot from a charity shop in Ross-on-Wye. There are two rows now, the other beans coming locally and the bean canes from Huntley, it's not much fun carrying 14 of them on a bicycle for six miles, fortunately the first batch came in a neighbour's car just before we would have been refused permission to carry them on the bus.

Over the period of our occupancy, the level of the heap had risen alarmingly, fortunately the surplus soil was needed for the new flower bed at the front (above) and also for a couple more flower beds I had added half way up the at the back. Elsewhere, parts of the so-called lawns have been nibbled away to provide space for something more interesting  I finally persuaded our neighbour to let me give the trees a much needed trim, I also did the same to those at the back of her property. Although I cleared the brambles and ferns there at the same time, they are all growing back again. But the improvement in light on our side is wonderful. Alas the dreaded sycamore at the back is now covered in leaves despite my removing the more accessible parts last year.

The wood from the old banisters wasn't 100% rotten, some has been recycled. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme anyone?

There's a separate page on the garden flowers, but I'll conclude with what for me has been the horticultural highlight, the thousands of British bluebells. I can't claim to have introduced them but the cutting back I have done in the last couple of years has given them space to spread and show their glory. Frankly in some parts they are even threatening to become weeds.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson