Pauper's Clay Garden - The Final Part

The final part of the Pauper series this year looks at how you should not give up as the nights draw in...

Over the last few weeks I've described the mechanics of creating a beautiful garden from very humble beginnings.

I was in my garden this afternoon, painting the gazebo roof ready for a wet winter, when it struck me that this time of year is when the relationship you have with your garden is likely to be put to the test as the plants begin to fade ready for the colder months. After a glorious season the summer flowers are failing and the winter flowers are as yet few and far between. The grass is long and the vegetable patch looks more like a wasteland despite my best efforts to fill the gaps with winter vegetables such as late leeks. The whole thing reminds me of a geisha without make-up and past her prime.

As I used a dried sunflower stalk as an extension to my paint-brush handle and spent an hour in the open air my mood was lifted. The weather was warm, there was a clear sky (although Sod formed clouds as soon as I pried the lid off the paint tin). It was my first outing in the garden for many days.

As I looked around, I was reminded of special times in the last year and when I had found the plants. Many were flowering for a second time and others showing their autumn colours. The whole garden cost less than £500 (including the gazebo) so very few were bought for their full retail price. They were mostly rescued as withered and under-watered cheap refugees in supermarkets. Some were gifts - the gift that keeps on giving.

I have also begged my way to many a free cutting and seedling and had a good go at growing from seed. With a clay garden this is best done in pots with potting compost to begin with as seeds fair badly when sown in such heavy soil. Seedlings, however, thrive in this rich medium.

Even seeds can be inexpensive. A packet of poppy seeds sold for baking but scattered liberally on broken soil proved stunning and reliable. Any Pauperesque gardener should have an open mind to such opportunities, should think "out of the box". So much can be had for so little. It is my plan to spend winter by the fire, learning how to look after these new additions to the family. Hopefully PlantAdvice book reviews will point me to the right volume.

Winter is an essential part of your life experience. It provides the juxtaposition that makes the spring and summer garden more special. It reminds me of the Russian tradition of jumping from a sauna straight into a snowdrift. The contrast is revitalising. It makes you feel alive and that is ultimately what a garden should do.

The autumn/winter state of a young garden can be a dismal affair in comparison to the glory of its summer show. It is easy to be disheartened but it is exactly the memory of that summer show (pictured) that should spur you on. Enjoy your winter garden for what it is. It's a future joy. It's the present under the Christmas tree. It's a pleasure to receive a gift, a pleasure to give it. With a garden, you get the best of both worlds. Enjoy!

This article was written by Joe Munford.


Filed under Garden Design.

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