Inside Looking Out
In May I had to remove a tree, a Rhus typhinus, from a small patch of ground at the back of our house. It was damaging a neighbour’s wall but it had also put out underground suckers and small trees were springing up through the tarmac on the road. This shamefully neglected patch of ground always seemed dark and uninviting so I ignored it and allowed ivy to take over the wall and much of the ground. The tree came down and I filled several green waste bins with tree roots, weeds and ivy. Suddenly breeze blocks and an empty bed was the only view from the back kitchen window and without the dappled shadows of the tree this view was truly bleak.
There was a tub half full of lime putty in the garden shed left over from lime washing the front of the house several years ago. I had also kept several packets of dry pigments. It’s a time consuming job stirring the thick lime putty into water but when it reaches the consistency of custard (free of lumps of course) it’s ready to use and the pigment can be added. I chose a reddish powder and added a tablespoon at a time until I felt the colour was strong enough. I then applied it with a large paint brush, 25cms wide, to speed up the process. On the second coat it began to transform the ugly breeze blocks and by the fourth coat I had achieved a lovely rustic finish and a mellow depth of colour.
In order to keep costs to a minimum I lifted and divided plants from existing beds on the other side of the house. Sedum, perennial geraniums, eau de cologne mint, ajuga, luzula and cherianthus all gave it instant form. I transplanted a not too vigorous rambling rose R. ‘Crimson Showers’ to eventually climb over the wires on the wall at the back. My only expense was a late flowering purple clematis to mingle with the rose. Cosmos and dill were grown from seed and a neighbour gave me some sweet rocket plants which added to the wild flower feel and that was helped by sprinkling a packet of meadow seeds directly in the ground.
It is lovely to look out on and it’s rather surprising since for years I was totally convinced that it was a dark and depressing space with no room for improvement. How wrong can you be?