Way before the Wartime Garden, way back before we even dug a spade, barked our shins and swore at the thatch lawn that was the back garden there was the front garden. This unassuming little plot of land at the front of our house, for that is where most front gardens are, was the home to every plant we'd brought with us from Drovers. It was a tapestry of rhubarb, blackcurrants, fennel herb, roses, perennials and dahlias. It was the best or our plants brought from one home to another. Then building work commenced, and these lovingly tended plants where crushed under the heels of builders. We came home one day to find that all of our dahlias, grown year in, year out, had been crushed under three workmen mixing plaster. The dahlias never recovered and the plaster work done for the heating had to be redone earlier this year - thus proving that any workmen who don't respect your dahlias, do not respect their craft. The fact that three of them were mixing plaster should have sounded warning bells. You live, you learn, you stick a garden fork in any builder who stands on your garden.
For along time afterwards we refused to do anything with this front garden because after workmen, roofers came with scaffolding, after them electricians and heating engineers. Our front garden became the dumping ground for insulation, wiring on vast reels, copper piping, water tanks, scaffold boards and broken tiles. We were down about ever trying to do something with this space. Our neighbours joked about it then they stopped joking. Then a couple walking their dog recognised Andrew from our gardening column in the local newspaper, they peered over our front wall excited and saw the log piles for the heating, the scorched earth left by builders with blow torches and simply said, 'Oh'. Andrew told them that we had saved what we could from the builders, left what we didn't love, and raged at every plant we wished dead but remained. They actually ran away with their dog sailing behind them like a kite, such was Andrew's defense of what was a poor hole in the ground. We'd inherited this hole from builders, surely they could see that we didn't design it as a bomb crater? The plants that remained weren't our plants, they'd belonged to the last house owner, they weren't our taste! They were dots in the distance by the time Andrew finished. We had inherited a rather awful geranium in the front garden, it came to symbolise the front garden, it was low growing, pink and as sexy as a six footer hairy sailor dressed as a lollipop lady. It survived every onslaught, it even survived being the footings for two stories of scaffolding. It crept, it invaded the rest of the garden. It choked our lovely plants. A weed is a plant in the wrong place, technically grass is one of our worst weeds but this creeping pink bugger was worse than grass it killed our roses, it tried to kill our Drovers geraniums and it throttled every daffodil. To say we hated it would be an understatement. Today, it went in the compost heap, we applauded, our neighbours applauded, some ramblers rambling past, thermos cups aloft toasted the death of the creeping pink menace. Our old front garden is an ex-front garden. It is dead. Devoid of plants. Deader than a pink geranium in a compost heap. All hail, all salute the coming of a new garden. The herb garden.
This modest space, just one room away from the kitchen, cossetted by a low wall with a rose trained over and the front of our home will be the new herb garden, mainly culinary, perennial with pots by the door given over to annual herbs. We want this garden to be bee friendly too, and herbs are great for bring in wildlife. Over the next few weeks we will show you how to build your own herb garden and eating area. After all, it seems mad not to take advantage of this view.