Oh, oh, oh, now this is exciting! For me, anyway.
As you may or may not know, we bought this house at the end of March last year. Aside from the totally awesome location, top of my personal priority list was that it had a big north-facing garden and no pine trees. Well, two out of three ain't bad, as they say. Big yard? Check! The total block is over 800m2, which whilst not enormous is still very decent size. North facing? Certainly is! 20 degrees off North (I'm told). No pine trees? Unfortunately, you can't always have everything you want (or don't want, in this case) and there is a whopper of a pine tree overhanging the north-east corner of our block, blocking lots of sun, stealing water, and acidifying the soil. This is our yard right this minute, in all it's weedy and 'work-in-progress' glory.
So over the last nine months or so I have been looking at our back yard, our virtually blank canvas, watching where the sun warms, looking at the contours, and thinking and dreaming and plotting to myself. And this is what I have come up with. Very pretty, even though I am a bit inept with the old coloured pencils.
It's not obvious in the photo above, but there is some slope in our yard, with the patch under the pine tree being the highest point. My central idea with the garden plan is to basically take what is existing in the yard already in a soft and unformed kind of way, and add bones with stone walls and a touch of terracing. I'd like the retaining walls to look a little like the slate cladding below, with its blue greys and warm reds. Not sure yet how this will be achieved, but my father-in-law is on the case for me.
When we in Japan, I wanted to see Tofukuji temple in Kyoto, and in particular the paving stones dissolving into moss. We never made it to that temple, we ran out of time, but I am channelling the Tofukuji Zen Garden nonetheless, and would like to mimic that paving with large pavers and grass, but beginning with a solid patio/courtyard rather than a checkerboard (Google it).
The house does not yet extend that far into the yard, but it will in the not-too-distant future; plans for a house extension are being drawn up by a draftsman even as you sit and read this. In a nutshell, looking at the bottom of the plan and reading upwards, we'll have a big extension on the back of the house with lots of glass, then a formal-ish courtyard with a curved seating area on top of the wall. I'd like the right-hand side of the courtyard to have a slightly sunken feel, which I'm hoping to achieve with careful planting. In the future, there will be some sort of trellising over the courtyard with deciduous vines to provide shade in summer, and extra sunlight in winter. Then you walk out over the paving which blends into the lawn. Straight ahead will be a lawn with a large water tank at the back, and perhaps a couple of small gum trees, underplanted with aggies (recycled from the current planting over the existing retaining walls). If you walk right, there's a raised area with trees underplanted with smaller plants on one side, and a large vegetable garden on the other.
I will be planting as many edible and food plants as I can, with lots of other pretty but hardy plants in between. Later we'd like some chickens. They can have a coop up the back, and free range during the day.
Does this all make sense? Easy enough to draw, but hard to put into words! And who knows how much of it will come to fruition, subject to the idiosyncrasies of climate as we are? My garden will grow, it will change, it will take 20 years to look remotely like I imagine. I can hardly wait, but I must.
SUMMARY (click on image to zoom)
2- Row of plum trees
3- Compost heap (very glam!)
5- Espaliered fruit trees
6- Kiwi Fruit on trellis
7- Dissolving pavement
8- Mulberry Tree (exisiting, very small!)
9- Fig tree (existing, may espalier)
10- Tahitian Lime
11- Kaffir Lime
12- Apricot tree (existing, small)
13- Fruit tree (not sure what yet, nectarine?)
14- Lemon tree (existing, small)
15- Japanese quince (existing, small)
16- Garden bed, shrubs
17- Garden bed, shrubs
18- Water tank + agapanthus.