Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Looking Back! My first Garden!

This is the cottage in Devon that my husband Martin and I bought when we were first married, and renovated. Well a builder did most of the renovating of the house but we tackled the garden. sharlands The cottage was mentioned in the Doomsday book and built around 900 AD from what we were able to find out. It was in a bad state and had been condemned by the council which made it very very cheap! There was no running water only a pump in the kitchen which brought water up from the well in the garden. No mod cons and the main roof beam was broken due to someone covering the rotting thatch with asbestos sheets rather than re-thatching. But it did have over a quarter of an acre of garden! Very overgrown garden to be sure but it was south facing. The other attraction was that the cottage was miles from anywhere, in the country and down a lane. 

We cleared the garden and Martin spread loads of pig manure on it from the piggery next door! The top we leveled and turned into a patio, lawn and rose garden. The bottom we made into another lawn and a large vegetable plot.  As the garden had been sloping we got a digger in and Martin carved out two levels so I was able to have a long rockery against the top level. We grew strawberries on the outflow from the septic tank and I’ve never had such superb strawberries since. And a green house over the septic tank because it was the only flat concreted surface at the time. Sharlands_Martin We had to cut down most of the trees as they were rotten but in the five years we were there we were able to plant more. Unfortunately this was before the advent of the digital camera and I didn’t take as many pictures because in those days they all had to be developed and that cost money which as a young couple we didn’t have a lot of.

We were so excited about our vegetable garden that we went to the Devon County Show and bought an enormous freezer which had to live in the sitting room as there was no where else for it! That first year it had three bags of peas in it! But after that it certainly earn’t it’s keep! It was this garden that taught me most of what I know today. Especially that gardening can be frustrating and that patience is a virtue! I’m still not that good at the patience bit but I’m getting there!


  1. What a nice post, Valeri! Have you been to that place recently? How does it look now, do you know?

  2. Thanks for the history! It sounds as though it was a true labor of love -- in addition to it being back-breaking labor! Janet

  3. Tatyana I haven't been back for years as we have lived in Cornwall since '71 so I don't know what they have done with it. I do know that people after us filled in the well and built a garage! Very silly!
    Janet it was totally back breaking work but we were young and it was fun!
    I'm glad you both enjoyed the post!

  4. Thank you for visiting my blog.
    I enjoyed reading about how you got into gardening. You certainly started off on a grand scale, but I bet you learned loads.

  5. What an interesting post. It is fun sometimes to look back.

  6. What an interesting post Val. It's always interesting to hear stories of others :) And how much I should be grateful with the digital technology we have today, as for now we can recklessly take as many photos as we want.