ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Actively preparing for retirement

Updated on October 6, 2015

I inherited a garden that was almost 50 years old. It surrounded a house of the same age. Given that I'm only four years older than both of them, getting them into a condition that I can manage is the perspective of this series of actively preparing for retirement.

The plot is roughly a sixth of an acre on a hill, there's clay soil that's reasonably well-drained because of the hill, gets all the benefits of an Irish climate (lots of sun, rain, frost and very little snow). Because of the orientation of the house we use the back garden as the leisure garden and the front for herbs and vegetables.

I inherited a lawn surrounded by a hedge and perhaps should have left well enough alone until I knew as much as I do now about gardening.

The plan for now is define three separate areas within that one space that are useful and manageable for the part-time gardener who doesn't really want to spend their entire day every week keeping on top of its growth.

From the road, there's a laurel hedge, about six feet deep at its widest. This heroic set of plants provides aprivacy screen that needs serious attention about twice a year either before the birds have nested (say in January or February) or once it's been checked for nests and confirmed clear of current chicks can be relatively easily tackled again in April. While trimming it this year I came across a nervous robin under the lavender bush that was hiding like Horton till the Who went away. It'll need another shave around September or October.

There's an Oriental-style pretty wooden feature that was ably built by a local joiner from posts, panels and trellis, over which I've planted climbing versions of roses, hydrangeas and jasmines. They too need pruning twice a year. Three rampant climbers on one upright garden fixture is a little touch of overkill that I probably won't do again. However the idea was to have perfume from the jasmine, colour and charm from the clusters of tiny roses, and flowers in a different season from the climbing hydrangea. The hydrangea's the only one that seems to be crowded out in this grouping, so I've to focus on its needs this summer. The genius idea for this year is to prune the climbers on the inside of the fence, and train them as trailers over the other side where there's a central cordyline, some hyacinths around the edges, a penstemon, and finally, a flat sprawling pine for dense ground cover to discourage opportunistic weeds.

That 'geometric' very short fence was put in because there's an odd series of corners rather than a simple right angle at the edge where the road meets the driveway and it's still looking good enough to be renewed with this year's effort rather than being dug out.

  • Next time I'm starting over with a garden I probably won't
    pull up the lawn:
  • I got pretty fit digging up that front lawn and disposing of the gazillions of stones that lurked underneath the surface. Covering the naked clay with Mypex and gravel was to save me having to use a 'pull-rope' lawn mower that needed more strength than I had to easily ignite the engine; An electric hover mower with an outdoor socket was the eventual solution that worked in the back garden where the lawn was retained. The gravel garden out front settled into a seasonal hoeing exercise to keep the gravel clear of mossy weeds.
  • The joinery done when the pergola-style upright was installed, btw, is standing the test of time graciously – the oriental-style corner 'fence' and a circular wooden platform upon which garden chairs and a table can find a home every summer were good investments of time, energy and money.
  • The bentwood borders to contain the semi-circular herb beds were never going to survive many winters without snapping, but a salvaged rope disguised one of the snapped borders and kept the shape of the herb bed and tulip bed intact.


Cut branch treated with gungy stuff – this is very gluey and difficult to get off your hands so wear gloves that you're prepared to throw out afterwards.
Cut branch treated with gungy stuff – this is very gluey and difficult to get off your hands so wear gloves that you're prepared to throw out afterwards. | Source
Short-stemmed tulips (6" stems), April 2014.
Short-stemmed tulips (6" stems), April 2014. | Source
Foot-high tulips.
Foot-high tulips. | Source

The back garden

The ash tree finally got its surgery this year. Himself, as my better half is known, lopped off one of the branches, chopped it into firewood, and treated the cut plane with a gunge that's supposed to act as the missing bark till it scabs over by itself. The amount of water that gushed out of the branch was astonishing.

We've a line of lelandii that are 30' high that we'll have to tackle in autumn (nesting, time-consuming, possibly expensive..I've been drawn to cherry-pickers for hire websites that we may need to rent a day at a time to deal with the amount of wood that needs processing for our stove).

Meanwhile, the back garden's lawn is fine, the surrounding flower beds are beginning to behave themselves – yes that does mean I've sweated this spring and last autumn rowing back on the eejitry I committed in previous years. Shrubs that were about a foot high were planted too densely and let grow to see which one survived. All of them did. So I'd to dig out privets, red robins, birches, cordylines and a lavender; I'd to move tulip bulbs, hellebores, african daisies, hyacinths, grape hyacinths and so on, so that the short tulip wasn't hidden behind a lovely, sprawly clump of hellebores, or the grape hyacinths behind their bigger, more perfumed cousins. Upon close inspection that bed still looks like a dog's dinner but less so this year than last and meanwhile it's most often a pretty vista of textures and colours from the kitchen window.

We've also got the left hand coordinated with the right hand thing going so far this year in that Himself doesn't undo something I've just done and vice-versa.

Springing back into your high-season routine for a small urban garden can mean doing your preparation the month before you think you'll be able to spend your time outdoors. Quality Shed Time during the winter months could be usefully spent drawing up planting plans for the coming year, checking and repairing your summertime tools and furniture or checking the hard landscaping for weather damage.

The off-season is perfect too for visiting gardens, soaking up ideas you can adapt to your own space and getting the ball rolling on pricing and sourcing materials that take into account any sudden or unforeseen illnesses that advancing age often accompanies.

Given the physicality of maintaining a garden, putting in the grave garden in the front may turn out to have been not such a ridiculous option after all.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)