Turning a paddock into a dream garden

I was so happy to see that Activity Toys Direct had launched a competition with Tots100 to find bloggers to work with.  With bloggers asked to design their dream garden, I knew this one was calling to me.

We’re on a farm, so our back garden was is still basically a paddock.  Apart from planting a few seeds or bulbs in the wall, it’s a great blank area to play in.  But that’s it.  I’m not a gardener, it doesn’t draw me in (although I do like the idea of having some vegetables), and I struggle to find time for the things I enjoy doing, let alone those I’m not keen on.20131001_171942

Ideally I want to get someone in to ‘do’ the garden, make it into a proper garden with a border or at least areas with plants in and a proper fence along the field side and the front.  I’m sure at a push though, if the OH got the tractor or the loan of a digger, we could get a border area cut out pretty quickly and then I could put some hardy plants in that I don’t need to worry about from year to year.

We’re really windswept here, and over the wetter months, the grass can get abit water logged as the garden’s at the bottom of a hill.  So plants and shrubs that cope with wind, rain and a bit of sun as the garden gets all the sun in the summer from about 11.30 onwards; there’s not a lot of shade.

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N loved playing in this wildflower area in a Manchester park earlier this year. It’d be lovely to have a similar area at the bottom corner of our garden

Because we quite often have animals in the field behind, a tree would prevent us being able to keep a watch on what was going on out there, so I’d stick with shrubs and flowers. A wildflower corner would be lovely and really in keeping with the farm, with the opposite corner having an area for N to dig and plant in. I’m thinking sunflowers, easy to grow children’s seeds and maybe a few herb pots.  Randomly I’ve managed to grow some chives without doing anything at all, so of course I should be able to manage a few pots of herbs (with the help of N who really likes watering plants).

All I would like to see plant-wise, is colour and to avoid the bare look that there currently is.  Oh, and not forgetting indestructible plants that come up year after year…I am the person who managed to kill an African Violet and they’re meant to be extremely easy to look after.

For shade I’d love a large metal hammock with a sail shade.  I had a hammock on our wedding list, but needless to say we didn’t get one.  It would provide a really relaxing place to read or snooze while N’s out playing so it means I could keep an eye on him rather than panicking about him wandering off down the farm without me knowing.

Wow, wouldn’t this be amazing!

What I really admire is the wooden shed that my sister in law’s dad built for them and is still in next door’s garden.  It’s huge and fits everything you could want in it, so having a similar one would mean being able to put away all of N’s outdoor toys and not have to fill up the utility room with them, as well as fitting in a table and chairs.  It is quite large though so I’d want it out of the way on our stone area if possible.

We don’t eat out much during the summer in the garden because there’s nowhere to sit (apart from the ground).  I’ve been meaning for years to get a wooden table and chairs, but it’s actually making a decision about how large a table you really need.  The in-laws have traditional picnic benches and they work really well for the family, but I would rather have a nice table and chairs or benches with a parasol which work better for a social occasion.  It would definitely encourage us to have more BBQs for friends in the summer months.

But what about making the garden more child friendly?

It’s not doing too badly at the moment.  It’s essentially a large patch of grass (perfect for running around and playing ball), with a reasonable sized patio but there are a couple of items now N’s older that I see as essential over the next few years.

Garden plan
Layout plan

We already have a few outdoor toys in the garden, although they were all second hand and pretty faded from use.  My supposedly bargain auction win from Ebay last summer of a Little Tikes 2 room playhouse, rocker and toddler slide went down brilliantly with N and his cousin… for all of about 2 weeks until N’s 6 year old cousin stood on the slide and it broke through.  Then we had a bad day of high winds which managed to pick up the plastic playhouse, and blew it round the side of the house, breaking it up as it went.  So he’s only got the rocker left.  Not as much of a bargain in the end!

So I’d love some more substantial wooden items that will cope with the openness of our garden, and will last him as he grows.  Plus of course, they’d fit in better with the naturalness and open countryside that we overlook.

All gardens should have a hideaway, and with N’s request for a slide this Christmas, this combination of playhouse and slide would fit the bill for our garden.  Having the playhouse component to a climbing frame is essential because I think they last so much longer as they give children a chance to get away from parents as they get older.

I’m also in love with this gorgeous 360 degree seesaw.  N loves seesaws, but given there’s only him, it would mean too much hard work for me and it’s not something he could play on his own.

N quite often has his cousins at the farm, and they’re always trying to play on whatever toys are around.  As his cousins range from 4 to 13, go karts would be a fun outdoor toy for them to play with.  These really fit the bill, and there’s lots of room for them to peddle round in.Knowing his cousins, they’d be setting up a circuit with cones, bales and whatever else they could find; N would have fun trying to keep up with them and they’d love teaching him.

And lastly, we’d have to have a ‘sports area’ with various sports kit so N could pick and choose.  A football goal, a net for starter tennis or volleyball, and a cricket set, and he’d be set for the summer.

Along with the big open space, and the existing toys he has, this really would create a dream garden from a paddock.

This blog post is an entry into the Tots100/Activity Toys Direct garden makeover competition

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