An attractive garden increases the value of a house

Ok, I think I’ve already said that I’m a hopeless gardener.  Like, really hopeless.  I have tried and failed many times before.  But now I’m 46, and I have a different incentive.  I want to sell this house for top dollar.  The rest of my financial life depends on how much profit I walk away with when I sell this house, so that’s a pretty huge incentive.  And that means establishing an attractive, low maintenance garden.

It doesn’t have to be spectacular…in fact I can guarantee it won’t be spectacular!  It just has to look neat, and be easy care.  That doesn’t sound so hard now does it?

Except I know nothing about plants.  I don’t know what grows well here (Canberra) and I don’t know what plants are low maintenance, easy care and generally tough as nails.

I have a feeling I’m going to have to learn a few things the hard way.

The Canberra Gardener

I bought the book ‘The Canberra Gardener’ a few years ago, with every intention of creating a beautiful, hardy, water friendly garden at my last house.  I then promptly put it on my bookshelf and never looked at it again.  $25 well spent, right?

It’s time to actually READ some of it now.

So Photinia makes a great hedge.   People keep telling me this, and the book says so too. Ok, so lets do that.  But we’ll do that later.  That’s going to be hard work digging big holes in the hard ground and stuff.  Even though there has been a lot of rain recently, the ground at the back fence is still like concrete.  now that i think of it, the rainy weather was what started me on this grand plan.  Wet ground, easy to work. Good theory, still really hard work in practice.  We’ll start with something easier…

photo of garden bed ready to plant

My ‘before’ shot of my garden bed. The top one. All weeded and ready for the plants sitting below.

Like pretty little pretty shrubs for my newly cleaned out garden bed. This is what it looked like before I planted anything.   Its rather a large bed.  About 8 metres long, and 2.5 metres deep.  It’s going to take a few plants to fill it.

So off to Bunnings I went, with absolutely NO idea what I was going to buy.  None.  So I walked around and looked at what was on sale.  If I liked the look of it, I read the labels.  If it said things like ‘easy care’ or ‘drought tolerant’ I was interested.

In the end I just picked four plants that I liked the look of. I like the mass planting idea, with lots of the same kind of plant.  Turns out I got two different kind of Euphorbias (“Ascot Rainbow” and “Silver Swan”). They have lovely foliage, but are very different shades of green.  I also got something called a ‘Cranberry Baby’ which is a pretty, spiky leaved plant, that as an added bonus will have cranberry coloured blooms at some point.  I’ll read that link sometime and find out when.   All of these are small shrubs, growing to 50cm, with the ‘Silver Swan’ growing to 75cm.

So the plan was to create rows of colour.  The ‘Cranberry Baby’ alternated with the ‘Ascot Rainbow’ in the first row to create a nice contrast in colour and foliage. Then a row of ‘Silver Swan’ and then a row of the gorgeous red plant that I also bought, a Coprosma, ‘Pacific‘Sunset’.  That one grows to a metre, and will fill out the back row nicely.

photo of Euphorbia plants

My first row of ‘Cranberry Baby’ and ‘Ascot Rainbow’ Euphorbia planted!

Gardening is hard with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Good plan, right?  Except on day one I only got so far as to plant the first row.

Thanks to Rheumatoid Arthritis, I needed a day of recovery before I went near the next row.  But eventually I got that planted too.  Then another four days before I got around to the third row.

All in all, since I started ripping out the shrubs, to when the final row was planted, it took a week to get the first bed finished.

It feels fantastic to have it finished, but one thing is very, very clear.  I have bitten off way more than I can chew.

This is, however, my nature.  And in truth, it’s how I’ve achieved so very many things that other people said were impossible.   That for some other people ARE impossible.

I hate that it took me a week to do something it would have taken me a day to do in my previous life…the life before I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I really, really hate it.

But I love that I have the determination and drive to keep going. To tackle a huge job, bit by bit, and eventually get it done.

Other people don’t even start, so overwhelmed by the size of the problem are they.  I am proud that I don’t let that beat me.  I’m proud that I just get on with it.

Of course it could also be sheer stupidity ????.

photo of euphorbias

The second row – ‘Silver Swan’ Euphoribias. Starting to look like I imagined.

But as of right now, I have one garden bed down, three more to go.  I have plans for the other three.  One currently has roses in it, but they are pretty sad looking. I intend to move them to the other bed, which also has roses.  The bed that I’m moving the sad roses from will become a herb and vegetable garden, because the only thing that I can see that might make gardening interesting is being able to eat the fruits of my labour.  And the last bed, I’ll plant out with different shrubs. Or maybe even the same ones that I used for bed number one…I don’t know.  We’ll see how these go.  See if they survive the next few weeks.

Because, despite the fact that every joint in my body is aching, and several muscles as well, and my body is really protesting my current crazy scheme, planting is the easy part.  Keeping said plants alive is where the challenge really lies!

photo of finished garden bed

Finally! A week later, Euphorbias, and Corprosmas and Cranberry Babies