My new favourite place for a cuppa

Last week I shared details of my garden's two "problem areas" and the advice I received from ITV's Katie Rushworth on how to transform them.  I was keen to get started and the sleepers for problem area #1 arrived on schedule, so over the weekend and with help from my SIL and her husband, we were able to crack on.

The results are amazing.  But let's start at the beginning.

We opted for brown softwood sleepers, ordering pre-cut lengths following my sleeper masterplan. We ordered them online Sunday evening, confirmed everything first thing Monday morning and could have had them delivered Tuesday morning, although we delayed delivery until the Thursday. 

A pile of sleepers waiting to transform my problem area #1

We used, a company MOH found on the Internet and were seriously impressed with them. They were helpful, had personality, confirmed the delivery by phone the day before, arrived when they said they would and the driver helped MOH carry the larger lengths through the house without being asked. Ths isn't a sponsored post, but they were so good that they deserve the credit and this recommendation if you're thinking of buying some sleepers.  Seriously.

With the cut ends treated and the dramas of Saturday out of the way (more on those tomorrow), Sunday was sleeper installation day, and thankfully it was sunny. The first job saw my BIL disappear up the lilac tree and lassoe the stray branches that I couldn't reach last summer. They were pruned, brought down safely and chopped and into our green bins in double quick time, and there was an immediate 'thank you' called out over the fence from our neighbour.

The tree is a much better shape now and should be more manageable, and I think we've also bought ourselves more sun onto the stone circle. I can't say for sure though as it's currently still the temporary store for our bricks and 'spare soil' but soon hopefully they'll be replaced with the sun loungers and I'll be relaxing, cocktail in hand...

The out of reach lilac branches were also trimmed

But first sleepers. Our garden was a hive of activity, and both MOH and I really appreciated the extra help throughout the day.  The inner edges of the sleepers were wrapped in a damp-proof membrane to help protect them from moisture, and then they were laid.

it's a transformation in progress - and thankfully in the sun!

We quickly discovered that my problem solving skills are way better than my maths skills, and that 1.3 and 1.7 equals 3 and not 2 as per my plan. That meant we were two metres of sleepers short.  Whoops!

And then the sleepers started to go in

With the help of some 'spare' wood, some quick thinking and some jiggery-pokery we were able to rearrange the sleepers to meet my approval and follow the outline of my plan. For a time it was like a giant-sized game of Jenga and a jigsaw puzzle combined, and the outcome works just as well. 

And with all that brain power used up, there was only one thing for it.  



Shortly after the tea rain stopped play, but that was no bad thing as it'd been pretty full on all day working on both the sleepers and the gabion baskets (that update will follow soon), but once the rain had stopped I popped out to get some pictures. 

And it wasn't long before they were all in

Don't they look great? 

I'm especially pleased at how they corner my plants which I'd planted there tentatively in the hope they wouldn't be in the way, and how they hug the step in the path without needing to be cut further. Part of the maths might have let me down, but the measurements and overall concept - or design - was sound.

On Monday MOH and I were back out there laying membrane and using up the last of our slate mountain, and I think it makes all the difference. We still need to get more slate, but that's for another time, this weekend just gone it was good to celebrate emptying a tonne bag and reclaiming part of our stone circle (those cocktails just got a bit closer!)

And slate was added

There was also time to empty the greenhouse of some of the bedding plants I've been raising since miniature plug plant size, and as the petunias were starting to flower they were the first choice. And the ice plant succulent which has got a little top heavy (and already had babies) also has a new home.  

Time for an arty shot of my favourite spot for a cuppa, the sleepers, slate and some new planting

Since this photo I've also added some begonias, sunflowers, angel wings, aquilegias (or columbines) and some herbs. I've also realised that this corner is likely to feature plenty more times here on the blog in suitably arty shots - you have been warned - because this is my new favourite place to have a cuppa.

Transformed in a day!

Looking back over the years and the times we've tried to make this part of our garden work, neither of us can quite believe how quickly this transformation happened, and how effective it is.  

The before photo, really was as bad as it looks; pots were congregating there, the beds had no edging so the soil was all over the path, and the plants looked lost.  



In the after photo, taken Sunday evening, the transformation is already apparent. Even without the slate to the right of this photo, and the 'spare' soil added to the bed to raise the planting level, and the additional planting it's easy to see how the angular lines improve the space isn't it?



Phew, I think we've cracked it and removed this problem area from our garden for good. I think it's only going to get better as it matures, and the sleepers were so easy to lay (even with my maths mishap) that I'm wondering why we've not done it before!