Monday, 5 November 2007

Camouflaging Concrete

Forever seered in my memory is a day in May, seventeen years ago. I can still picture the dirt track wending its way down through a field covered in pernicious weeds, amongst which were
copious amounts of creeping thistles, large areas of nettles, clumps of dandelions peppered here and there, ample evidence of ground elder, and tall couch grass aplenty.

At the end of the track stood an old, derelict barn with crumbling walls and a corrugated tin roof.
Adjacent to it was a newly-built bungalow in front of which was a large patio paved with drab, grey concrete slabs.
There was a certain romance about the decrepit old barn with the barley field growing behind it and the uncultivated field of weeds adjacent to it.
But the bungalow, with its ugly concrete patio, looked incongruous and far too conspicuous, as if it had somehow fallen from the sky and landed right in the middle of this rustic scene.
My husband thought I’d taken leave of my senses when I said I’d like to come and live in the village, right in the heart of the countryside, when we had a perfectly adequate house in a nearby country town.
Besides, the latter had a small manageable garden, whereas this plot was just under half an acre, and it was covered with those pernicious weeds.
All he could see was dereliction and a mountain of work if the field was to become a garden.
I, on the other hand, saw a challenge, possibilities to create habitats for wildlife, maybe even ponds.

I knew I’d need to camouflage the bungalow, however, and quickly do something to soften the hard look of that ugly patio, which was laid out in all its drabness, under the front patio windows immediately adjacent to the front entrance of the house.
These were some of my first impressions, seventeen years ago now, of what was to become our home and garden, here at Barleycorn.

Every gardener should endeavour to create an element of surprise - perhaps a graceful statue at the end of a long vista, which draws the eye; or perhaps something enticingly beautiful, with a grace and charm of its own.

For even in an open and windswept landscape, two hundred and twenty-five metres above sea level, there are possibilities for growing stunningly beautiful flowers, which lift the spirits and cause even the most reticent of friends to go into raptures.
Oriental lilies come into this bracket, for they exude exotic perfume, which has the effect of making everyone who passes, stop in their tracks to drink in the heady fragrance.
With their colourful blooms they take on an attractive pose from mid to late Summer, and if luck prevails, will linger till early Autumn too.

Their arresting names - Lilium Connecticut King, Fire King, Joy, Barcelona, Stargazer, Lilium Longiflorum, Oriental Lily Le Reve, Madonna Lily and Lilium Regale – conjure up pictures in the imagination of their exotic origins.
Here at Barleycorn, they are a welcome addition to our mixed borders. Flowering this year till the end of October, they gave sustenance to all myriad of insects, butterflies and members of the bee family.
Oriental lilies are seductive, graceful, tolerant in most soils, and bring a touch of the exotic to the garden. In addition to being perennial, their rainbow of colours brightens up even the wettest of Summers, such as the one we have just experienced.
Best of all in my book, they are easily grown in profusion in the tubs and troughs, which cover most of the ugly grey patio I first set eyes on seventeen years ago.


Barbara said...

Beautiful lilies! And I liked to read the story about your home and how you came to it. Up to now I wasn't so lucky with lilies...they mostly disappeared after a short period. I think I have to put them in pots, so they can be watched and be cared of ! Hopefully I'll have some blooms next year!
Have a nice week! Regards from Switzerland!

A wildlife gardener said...

Good evening, Barbara, and a warm welcome to you on this rather chilly Autumn night. Lilies are 'a must' in any garden, for their vibrancy and fragrance.

Try growing them in pots so that you can move them to areas where other flowers have finished blooming.

shirl said...

Hi again, Wildlife Gardener :-)

I too enjoy hearing the stories about your garden and also have struggled with lilies in the past. Yes, pots would be better for me too as full sun is limited in my garden. Your lilies do look stunning - great photos :-D

Libbys Blog said...

Wow! Wow and double Wow! I only have a couple in my garden but seeing all of yours I think I might have to go out and buy some more!!!!

A wildlife gardener said...

Lovely to see you again, Shirl, in the Barleycorn garden. Lilies are worth their weight in gold as you can have both early and late flowering ones, thus prolonging the wonderful array of colour and fragrance in the garden :)

You can never have too many pots of lilies, Libby. They are somewhat safer there too as I've have been known to put a fork through a few of the ones growing in my accident, of course

Marie said...

Your Oriental lilies are beautiful! You have done a wonderful work at Barleycorn!

Have a nice day :o)

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello, Marie. Lovely to see you, as always. I'm glad you like the lilies. They are exquisite flowers, aren't they? And no more work after the initial planting of the bulbs :)

Yolanda Elizabet said...

OK, you've sold me on the Lilies but what I actually wanted to see was how you made that bungalow fit as if it belonged there. I live in a bungalow too (a big rectangular box and as dull as can be) and am slowing trying to turn it into something nice to look at (inside and out) and more cottage like too.

Thanks for all the pics of those gorgeous Lilies. It's rainy and grey here so I could do with a bit of colour.

A wildlife gardener said...

How lovely to have you visit the garden at Barleycorn, Yolanda Elizabet.

Basically in order to camouflage the bungalow, I have hidden it, more or less, from the road, by planting a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs and conifers.

Then, I have growing against the walls a mixture of climbing roses, climbing hydrangea, clematis, cotoneaster, hollyhocks and jasmine.

I took all those photos between June and the end of October and kept them to do a post, since there are not so many colourful flowers around to cheer us up now :)

kate said...

It was wonderful to have all these lilies to look at tonight ... they are beautiful. That's the magic of gardening - and having the imagination to transform an area into a haven!

Sandy said...

What a wonderful post and lovely photos. Having worked on an acre and making gardens, etc., I can imagine how much work has gone into all this. great read.


Sheila said...

You are an inspiration..!
These are beautiful, and that they are fragrant adds to their beauty. You have worked wonders with Barleycorn, and I wonder if you have ever thought of writing abook about the experience..!

A wildlife gardener said...

Lovely to have your company once again, Kate. You are quite right when you say the lilies have the power to transform the garden. Thank you for the compliment :)

Hello again, Sandy. Good to have your company too. It has been a marathon of hard work over the years as you can imagine. But it's been enjoyable too. It's most definitely true...we reap what we sow :)

You are good for my morale, dear Sheila. This blog is my book as it tells the story of the garden from its beginnings to the present day :)

If anyone would like to start at the beginning, click on 2006 (32) on the right-hand side of this page and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Sally said...

Breath-taking, W.G. Simply breath-taking! You have more will power than I do, I'm afraid I could never have done what you have done. I do love your garden and am so glad you share it with the world.

guild_rez said...

wonderful pictures..the garden is getting more beautiful and the lilies are so colourful. I love them too..
cheers from Canada

Ki said...

I enjoyed the photos of the lilies immensley. Especially the white one with yellow throat above the sentence with "pernicious weeds". Is that L. regale?

A wildlife gardener said...

A very warm welcome to you all on this pleasant day in November, here in the Barleycorn garden.

Thank you so much for the lovely compliments, dear Sally. Creating our garden for wildlife has been a labour of love involving sheer hard slog as we have done it all by hand. But we reap the rewards on a daily basis watching the wild creatures bringing it all to life :)

Guild_rez, it is so lovely to have your feedback. Lilies add more than a splash of fragrance and colour to the garden :)

Ki, lilium regale, with an exquisite perfume, is the seventh photo from the beginning, under the words 'nearby country town'. It is my favourite of them all because of its fragrance. If I have the others inside the house I tend to sneeze as I find them a bit overpowering, whereas I am able to live in peace with lilium regale :)

Chris said...

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful story with incredibly beautiful flowers! It sounds like heaven. We have had a profusion of lilies in pots this year but I would like to put them in a mixed border as well. Only problem is we are plagued with slugs and snails, do they attack your lilies ? Great post :-)

A wildlife gardener said...

We have hedgehogs in the garden, Chris, so they do loads of good work for us. I'm afraid I've been a culprit in the past by accidentally sticking a fork through the bulbs. Nowadays I keep well away from the borders I grow them in as well as using large markers before I cut down the stems. Thank you for your generous comments :)

BJ said...

The lilies are so is this post. I enjoyed it so much. I love coming here to see the beauty you show in both pictures and words. I am never disappointed and love to learn more about barleycorn.

Bimbimbie said...

Take a bow your vision and hard work have become a jewel attracting more wildlife then you dreamed of I imagine. Smiles *!*

Green thumb said...

It must have required a huge effort and loads of dedication to convert that piece of jungle into a 'paradise'. Hats off to you dear W.G, for you have presented a perfect e.g of what a human is capable of provided she is motivated enough, the gorgeous oriental lilies are a testimony to that.
Your hubby is one lucky man!

A wildlife gardener said...

Good morning , BJ, and many thanks for your very generous comments. It is lovely to be able to share the garden via the internet :)

Welcome once again, Bimbimbie. The loveliest thing about the garden over the years has been watching the variety of wild creatures bring it all to life. Thanks for visiting :)

How lovely to see you again, dear Green Thumb. You are correct in thinking there has been a tremendous amount of hard work on my part in creating our garden.

Although my husband does not like to work in the garden as such, in the first year we came here, with a lot of persuasion from me, he managed to do all the hard work in creating our two ponds, which I consider to be the jewel in the crown as they attract most of the wildlife.

He also takes the responsibility of feeding the birds on a daily basis. They, in turn, eat up all the aphids and pests on the flowers, trees and shrubs. So, all in all, the little things my husband does soon amount to a lot, and adds to the idea of teamwork :)

Ewa said...

Dear wildlife gardener,
I was pointed by jodi as meme tag ‘victim’ and you are one of my ‘victims’ - please have a look at my blog

Thalia said...

Such beautiful lilies!

A wildlife gardener said...

Welcome, Ewa, to our little corner of paradise. I will come and have a look to see what I have to do, Ewa :)

How wonderful to hear from you again, dear Thalia. I have truly missed you and your exquisite photos and your wonderful stories. Can we expect another one soon? I do hope so :)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think I have just fallen in love with Oriental Lillies. Wow what a show.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Lilies are my favorite flower, great pictures.

paris parfait said...

Those lilies are simply stunning! Lovely post.

paris parfait said...

Those lilies are simply stunning! Lovely post.

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