As you may know, I have been planning to totally refurbish the old chicken house at the bottom of the garden to turn it into a tiny house, suitably kitted out for wildlife watching. At the moment, it is used as storage for all sorts of useful junk and the hens are still living in the run but all of this is about to change. Here's where we're 'at', so far...

In the garden

Our garden is long and narrow, pretty much split into four different zones. First we have the patio and kitchen garden and then the main garden (as seen above), which includes the greenhouse, polytunnel, vegetable plots, herb spirals and soft fruit. This is also where the rabbits and quail live.

Micro orchard

Section 3 of our garden, or microholding, as I like to call it, is made up of the duck pond and orchard. As one might have guessed, this is where the ducks live, spending their time between splashing in the (still not completed) duck pond and wandering among the fruit trees. We have plum, pear, apple and cherry. There are also some raspberries, gooseberries, black currants, crab apples and a tiny peach tree. The huge heron sculpture is the latest arrival - H made it from driftwood we salvaged from the nearby shore.

in the orchard

The path leading the length of the garden was just completed at the end of 2013. It was made using builders' tote bags as weed suppressant, 20 worth of logs bought & collected from the Forestry Commission as firewood and the cheapest gravel available from the nearest builders' merchants. I think it looks great, H did a good laying it all himself. The ducks don't walk on the gravel, they prefer the comfort of grass beneath their feet. (They do cross it.)

In the garden 

This is about as far as we have got with the garden. Top right of this photo shows wild bird corner and to the fore is the old hen house that needs to be fox-proofed before it can be safely used.

Bottom of the garden

Section 4 of our long, narrow garden starts with what we called 'rubble mountain'. This flat(ish) plateau has been dug down by almost two metres sine we moved here, in an attempt to make use of the precious space. This year, it has been dug over and four rows of potatoes planted in an effort to help break up the soil. You can just see the potatoes beginning to sprout. Around the edges there is the hawthorn with Himalayan Honeysuckle growing through it, plus the usual brambles. I have just planted three small pampas grasses, in the hope they will grow to produce hedgehog cover and attract the finches that seem to like picking at it. The path, at this point, has not been properly made up, so it is no more than a worn footpath.

Bottom of the garden

Now we have almost reached the bottom of the garden - the bridge is a bit wobbly in places but it's reinforced concrete, so it isn't going anywhere despite the numerous bashings it has taken when the stream turns into a raging torrent and burst its banks to creep halfway up the orchard. Neither the plateau on rubble mountain nor the old shed in the furthest corner seem to be affected by the worst of the floods, but we lose access to the chicken run, hence the reason I would prefer them on this side of the water.

bottom of the garden

Across the bridge, we have a huge space to clear. This was the old hen coops and run when we arrived, so we patched it up as best we could and left our hens to clear the plot of weeds. They have made a fantastic job and it is now down to bare earth, so the next stage in the master plan can begin - moving the hens into the orchard and clearing this plot for work to begin on refurbishing the old hen shed.

This is all fair weather work, so we do need a good summer to get the work done. A budget has been set aside for this project, as it involves some major spends to rebuild part of the old dry stone wall that has collapsed, improve the bridge and dismantle then rebuild the old hen house, which is approximately 16' x 8', so it's not quite a 'wee hen coop', more of a tiny house in the making. Fun times ahead! Once the building refurbishment is completed, I'll be landscaping the 'secret' garden and creating a proper wildlife habitat. I did pace out the area to measure it and calculated it as being just over 100 square metres, so plenty of scope for landscaping and a lovely water feature already in place by way of the stream - while it's low and shallow! smiley

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