Over the years we have had a love hate relationship with our larger than average garden. We like the space it provides and the birds and animals it shelters, but there is no point pretending we will ever have a well kept orderly outdoor space with manicured lawns and tidy borders. It comprises: lawns, or in reality patches of grass, with a single border of flowers; a pond, a wooded area, a gravel memorial garden, a vegetable plot, a greenhouse and an orchard (or what is left of it after it flooded). It is surrounded by fields.
While we were working and engaged in sport and other activities with the kids it was too much to take on. We'd mow the lawn, do a bit of weeding, plant a few vegetables but it was a constant battle against the weeds. Nettles, brambles and docks usually won. We decided nature would always win so we had to go along with it.
Plants sowed themselves and the native plants and animal moved in. Maybe we stumbled across re-wilding before it was fashionable; it wasn't neglect but it was letting nature take the upper hand with the minimum to stop the brambles, nettles and docks completely swamping us. The dock leaves came in handy when we were stung by the nettles. The lawn was "tidy" but never manicured, a benefit in the summers of drought.
The great benefit was lots of birds, insects, butterflies, frogs and other creepy crawlies and while we know the garden is not as neat and tidy as it could be, the wildlife benefits and certainly the variety of birds is of great delight. In a rural location it blend in with the surroundings and it is fortunate we are not in one of those well ordered suburban estates where the grass has to be kept to some sort of regulation height.
By the time we retired we had grown to love its semi wild nature and decided not to interfere too much, our focus would be on restoring and optimising the vegetable plot. Here we were determined that we should share in the harvest as much as the birds, insects, snails and slugs. This routine, and the acceptance that it's OK for the lawn to be a patch of grass, brings us more harmony because I no longer nag the Webmaster so much about mowing it - although I still have to remind him it isn't the meadow so he needs to mow it more than twice a year.
Some of our successes and failures in the garden are recounted here. I will leave you to decide which are which.