Friday, 29 June 2012

Gardening in Chorlton

When I moved into my house, near Chorlton Green, in the 1980s, I was delighted by the small garden at the back and threw myself enthusiastically into cultivating it. I concentrated on cottage garden perennials and alpines in sinks and troughs. There were some problems - for example, the garden is north facing, with relatively lower light levels compared with gardens with a more favourable aspect, so some plants I wanted to grow tended to become etiolated and to fall over, whilst others were even reluctant to flower. Nevertheless, I persevered, learned to select plants which suited the conditions, and was generally pleased with the results. Then life intervened! In 1987 I was made redundant for the first time - just as I was in the middle of studying for an Open University degree. I quickly found another job, but settling into it and finishing the dgree took up an awful lot of my energies. Over the next decade or so it was 'just one damn thing after another' (I won't bore you with the details) and it was the garden which bore the brunt and became more and more neglected (in retrospect, a poor decision - as it could have provided me with some solace during the difficult times).

Earlier this year I looked out of the kitchen window onto a dismal tangle of ivy, brambles and nettles and decided to do something about it. Then I received an unexpected windfall and now had the funds to do something about it. I contacted Betel Gardens (ring 07791 808 727 for details) and they sent round a couple of lads to clear the garden so that I had a 'clean slate' to work with. Many thanks to Andy and his mate for a great job! That was back in February, the top photo shows where I was up to in mid-June. The re-discovery of my garden has been an exciting adventure for me (especially as I now have plenty of time to devote to it). I'm tending to concentrate on ferns, this time round, as I am obsessed with them - and they do suit the conditions rather well. Neverthless, there are many shade tolerant, but colourful, flowering plants available which contrast well with the ferns; Foxgloves, Primulas and Hardy Geraniums all work well.

Last Sunday was Chorlton Open Gardens day - and very enjoyable it was too! I walked my legs off in order to visit as many gardens as possible and to share my newly re-discovered passion with my fellow Chorltonians. The gardens varied in size from 'substantial' to yard-sized - but everyone obviously derived huge pleasure from their particular 'patch' and I was impressed by the enthusiasm, knowledge and creativity on display.

One topic which was mentioned frequently was wildlife in the garden. Because I have been spending more time in mine I have, inevitably, noticed more garden wildlife:

As I was cultivating mine, post-clearance, back in March, Jays and Magpies fought a constant aerial battle overhead.

Glancing over the wall at the bottom of my garden, and down into Chorlton Brook, I several times glimpsed the resident Kingfisher (probably Chorlton's most loved inhabitant!).

On one fine evening recently I was sat out eating my tea and a Fox cub jumped up onto the wall and sat watching me.

And last month I noticed, and photographed a Dragonfly perched at the top of a bamboo cane. I'm not sure what species it was - but the closest I can get is a Darter Dragonfly in the genus Libullela (please feel free to tell me if I'm wrong!). For some reason this visitor impressed me the most and it felt like a sort of 'benediction' on all of my efforts to restore the garden.

Dave Bishop, June 2012


Ian Keith said...



A good find for Chorlton.




Friends of Chorlton Meadows said...

Hi Keith,

Thank you very much for the ID!

I've got a little pond in the garden and introduced some plants, purchased from a garden centre, into it recently. I wonder if the dragonfly nymph (if that's the right word?) was introduced with the plants?

Friends of Chorlton Meadows said...

Sorry - thank you IAN! Sorry! Silly me!