Banana skins actually. And coffee grounds…

Bloke has been helping me out with the kind of gardening that isn’t really gardening at all. The kind that involves saws, hammers, drills and noise. Certainly nothing you could describe as ‘zen’. But the kind that, when the noise has died down and the mess has been cleared, leaves you with something supremely functional over the longer term – a composter!

I’m of the opinion that composting needn’t be an ugly affair. Ok, I admit, composting is never going to be exactly pretty but I see no real reason why it can’t be a visually artisanesque endeavour, in an albeit whimsical, scratch-your-head-in-bemusement kind of way.  Our bee-hive composter is located where once there was a pile of old brash. The brash is still there; only now it’s threaded through the legs of four granite-topped cube-tables, which are twined together at the centre point, inviting you to tug if you dare, like an oversized, rustic version of Ker-Plunk. The composter sits atop, at comfortable shovelling height, and the whole structure is levelled and supported by a lidded sandpit filled with surplus, compacted earth and slate chippings. Ta-da!

The kitchen-caddy vegetation would compost a lot quicker if it was in direct contact with the earth – and the worms – but I fear it would also attract opportunistic rats. Not that I have a problem with rats, per se; I once homed a pair of pet fancy rats. They are peculiarly intelligent creatures – cute even – and they’re just trying to get by in the world like everyone else. But I don’t want them getting territorial in my garden. Bee stings are already excluded from our pet insurance after the dog’s impromptu ‘catch-the-buzzy-thing’ game. And rats have very sharp incisors!

Continuing the theme of over-considered, over-sized, slightly bonkers garden structures, we’ve sited the bug arbour in the back border too.

It’s a work in progress but it still looks a lot less unfinished than our, temporarily, bare-bricked kitchen. The central hexagon was originally furnished by Boy as part of a series of wildlife-friendly gardening projects which, collectively, earned him his green Blue Peter badge, a year or so ago. 🙂

Admittedly, the cat was not a particularly wildlife-friendly addition to the original build but his tail is ringed like a lemur’s and he is very photogenic.

By far the most fun structure we’ve built this week – even further left of field than anything in the back border – has got to be the rose arch: that most quintessential, instantly recognisable motif of the English country garden. Except, we’re not huge fans of thorns. And velvety rose petals are a little on the delicate side for coping with the rigours of living on this particular arch. I’ve planted two Hedera colchicas instead: ‘Dentata Variagata’ and ‘Paddy’s Pride’ – robust plants that will hopefully be vigorously tough enough to withstand taking multiple hits from the balls that will inevitably and repeatedly miss the most prominent of custom arch features – the basketball hoop!

And, even though I hadn’t planned it so, it turns out that chimney pot rims are perfectly sized for ball storage and the ivy planters double up as score boards. Happy days!