One of the things we were most excited about when we first saw the new house was the garden. We couldn't actually see that much of it, since it was on a steep slope and completely overgrown with brambles which made it impossible to get more than a few meters across it. But it was south-facing with a sea view as far as Devon on a clear day, a palm tree in the middle of it and apparently much potential.
Day 1: the view of - and from - the garden
So one of the first priorities once we moved in was to hack back the brambles so we could get to the end of it, uncovering a steep slope littered with rocks, various bits of concrete and some vague semblence of a path.
We made it to the bottom of the garden
Early discoveries: the remains of an old stone lion - and a spot for the hammock
Despite finding a space for the hammock, there was still loads of hard graft to come, pulling out the stone and roots of all the undergrowth, and breaking up the soil so that we could build terraces to create more usable space.
Hard graft on the terracing
But with a bit of vision and a lot of hard work, we've ended up with a fabulous wall and some solid terraces which have incorporated an extra lawn and even a rockery! Since then, we've also added compost bins and a vegetable patch with a good crop of potatoes and a steady supply of greens at the bottom of the garden.
The new wall and rockery ready for planting
With lockdown meaning that we can't have guests visit inside the house, transforming the top part of the garden also became a priority when the rules relaxed enough to allow us to have visitors in the garden. We cleared, dug over and levelled the litter-strewn overgrown mess outside the front of the house and in a single afternoon, Ian and Jess laid meters of turf and relaid the path to create a beautiful lawn.
Add the turf... ...and enjoy the finished lawn!
We've ended up with a space right outside the house which is perfect for dinners, barbecues and hanging out with friends. With the on-going coronavirus restrictions, it's meant we've been able to hang out as a whole co-op, having socially-distanced meetings and even a birthday party with enough space to have everyone there at a safe distance.
While there's still more we'd like to do with the space, we're really proud of what we've achieved in just a few months with virtually no budget but a whole lot of people power. We know we're really lucky to have access to outside space and the time, energy, skills and collective ownership to enable us to transform it, and feel blessed to have been able to create a space we can enjoy and nurture social connections at a time when that feels more important than ever.