s sworn by myself, the current situation of the `garden'. It is at this point necessary to say I'm not sure I can call myself a gardener anymore - more someone who happens to own a garden. First up, the rarely photographed and much maligned front garden. It's always been an issue, since before we even moved in. The builders/cowboys dumped all the rubble on it and compacted the earth, destroying any vestiges of plant life in the process. As with the back garden we inherited scrubland, but with two fatal flaws: firstly, there's a lot of clay in this patch that's almost impossible to dig; secondly and probably more importantly, as it's on the street it's not a nice place to work - one feels very exposed.
he hedge at the back is the hawthorn hedge we planted 4 years ago, and it grows well. Two summers ago we fought with the clay and grew potatoes to keep the weeds down and break up the soil. It was about 50% successful. This summer we sowed green manure to try and break up the soil more. I'm not convinced it worked at all, but the remains of this sowing is what you can see now because we never had time (or inclination) to dig it in. Dan's idea is to build raised beds and add compost/topsoil/grit over the top. A good suggestion, but I'm worried this will effectively created a clay-pot under whatever we plant and stop them becoming established. Beds would be separated by small paths so we can walk around the square easily, established using membrane dressed with slate, gravel, wood-chip or similar. Also a good idea, but I'm inherently mistrustful of membrane (as is Dan). It's an easy solution to keep the weeds down to be sure, but I dislike the artificial separation between earth and sky it creates. On the other hand, this is basically central London so my feelings on the matter are probably irrelevant; this patch of earth exists surrounded by brick and concrete, if it looked less abandoned it would know doubt be a win for all passersby and it's certainly not supporting much wildlife right now. Opinions?