First off, the thing I love most is… that I actually have one now! I moved to the Midlands for university and at best what we had in the student housing could be described as a shared yard – that was mostly concrete. Our first home was a 70’s maisonette. That was a little better as we had our own outdoor space – but it was entirely paved with slabs, though we did lift a few and plant in the gaps.
We bought our house a couple of years ago – along with a mini-jungle out in the front, and back garden that had sadly been ignored for too long. It’s taken a lot of time, and we’ve still work and a lot of learning to do – but we’re getting there! Like the house, it’s an ongoing project, but I love what we’ve achieved so far.
We’ve installed an all-weather pagoda and purple slate patio – which gives me somewhere to sit and write in all but the coldest of weather, which I adore, and we’ve replaced the leaky pond (after carefully rehoming all the residents!) with a raised rockery.
I’m really lucky to have a garden room, which is one of my favourite places to write. It’s sunny and warm in summer, and we’ve recently had it insulated, so should be good in winter too. It’s got a comfy old couch, and a gorgeous desk made by my husband and Dad.
Our semi-rural location means we get lots of amazing wildlife, and good views of the sky – perfect for bird and star watching! We get a huge variety of wildlife including couple of dozen different bird species – some of which are sadly endangered now. I even have my own personal flock of starlings who nest under the eaves, a fearless robin who will cheerfully kick the starlings off ‘his’ feeder whenever he feels like it, and a very cheeky blackbird who has nested in our shed AND our bathroom vent. We also have wrens, sparrows, pigeons, doves, blue, willow, great and coal tits, goldfinches, warblers that we hear but don’t see, and I’ve even caught a woodpecker out there. And yes, a lot of our regular visitors have names!
We’ve also had baby field mice, who were so little their eyes weren’t open. So, we gave them a drink, fed them, and took them to a local wildlife rescue where they were ‘nested’ with similar aged babies and released later.
It’s a wonderful little garden that’s partly ours, and partly being made into a safe space for wildlife – complete with wildflowers (they’re not weeds if they’re where I want them!) running down the back of the rockery, and a few old gifts from relatives who sadly never got to see it. There’s a lot of things in the garden which mean a lot to me, like the rose that was named for my Mum, the pure white calla lilies that took me back to my Grandmother’s garden the moment I saw them, and the purple campanula that grew all along the walls of Nan’s house. We were planning to have the lawn lifted, levelled and re-laid – but with Covid, we decided to put it on hold, and try sowing the lawn ourselves. For two novice gardeners, there’s been some real learned curves – but we think we’re getting there. Slowly. But that’s half the fun of gardening, isn’t it?
Next year, we’re hoping to see apples from the little saplings we’ve put in, and I might even try my hand at some beetroot and butternut squash… but for now, I’m waiting for those first tiny specks of green that will herald the arrival of my daffodils!
It sounds wonderful Ella and I’ve definitely got garden room envy. Mx
About Ella Cook
Ella’s been obsessed with books since she was a toddler and never had any real-life plan other than writing! She grew up in West London, where fairies visited the wishing well in Grandma’s garden (the same one the robin is perched on in my garden). She still looks for magic in everyday life, and is surprised at how often she still finds it.
When she’s not living in a fantasy world of her own creation, she writes bids and develops programmes for children’s services. She lives in rural Warwickshire (where there are probably more fairies) with her husband who is ever loving and understanding, and makes her gallons of tea in magical cups that can keep drinks warm for whole chapters. She often writes in her garden while being serenaded by robins and blackbirds.
About Beyond Grey
The back of the book says:
What if you became an outsider in your own life?
Jennifer Hughes doesn’t have an extraordinary life, but that doesn’t matter – she loves her family and enjoys her job as a teacher. In her eyes, her unextraordinary life is utterly perfect.
But then, in the blink of an eye, Jennifer finds herself cut off from everything she knew and loved, confined to a strange new world and forced to watch from a distance as her family and friends pick up the pieces.
Can Jennifer hold her perfect life together, even though she’s not living it herself?
To buy the book use the following links –