In celebration of retirement (6)

A Retirement Challenge

It took two years to plan and build our retirement house. It had to be built on the flat to avoid steps and we included features in our main bathroom to accommodate a disabled person. (You never know what might happen to you). Both the study and the family room from which it opens are roomy and light.  Pleasingly we even have a shed!

The builders finished work early 2007, and we moved in at Easter. Then came all the finishing touches. My wife very capably looked after the inside changes but left what was outside to me. We may have avoided steps in the house, but we had been left with dauntingly steep banks as a result of the site excavation. It has been up to me to get the garden established before I die, since we had run out of funds for professional landscaping.

It has not been a burdensome task. It has been like working with a blank canvas, only not to produce a painting, but to create a pleasing environment around the house, adding  privacy and a habitat for wildlife. Admittedly the end result is not in the same league as a meticulously landscaped garden, but it has only to give pleasure to ourselves. The extra work involved in planning and planting is a positive when you are retired.

It is very much a tangled, random look. It continuously surprises as self sown plants pop up and coalesce, and bulbs re-emerge. All pass through a cycle of new growth, flowering, fruiting and die-back.

Our plantings are impulse driven. Given a tempting nursery acquisition, or cuttings from obliging friends, it is increasingly difficult task to find space in which to plant them.

In many places the top-soil had been lost, leaving exposed clay, and there was builders’ rubble to contend with. It amazed me to discover how well plants could grow on  such steep inhospitable slopes after the addition of a little extra soil and compost . One tends to think that plants derive their nourishment as well as water and nutrients from the soil. Of course it is the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that  sustains plant growth. and in the process adds oxygen to the air we breathe.

This picture shows how the garden has grown thus far. I’m grateful that I have finished this commitment.

What now? There is still lots of watering and weeding to do, so I guess this gives me a reason for sticking around a bit longer!

Categories: In celebration of retirement

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