Sunday, October 12, 2014

A children's wonder garden

We're on a week's holiday in the tropics and Mr Jones is reminded that his favourite technology is the combination of a note pad, a pencil and an eraser (or erasable pen this week).

Here's a sketch of what happens if you've got nothing to do other than sit with your own thoughts and a sketch pad for a few days.  It's a first pass on our version of Mr McGregor's Garden for our (soon to be) two boys.

So what is this jumble of scribbles?

Well as you might remember from previous posts, we've got a odd shaped block (triangle) as a result of a planning decision made back in around 1921.  This poses a lot of constraints but, constraints can also be a great thing to push your creativity.  Indeed if we had a rectangle, we wouldn't have come up with this design for the back corner.

The first thing we did was work out the constraints:

  1. Dimensions 
  2. Infrastructure (the shed, soon to be man cave for Mr Jones), gas meter, fences, access points etc
  3. Shade lines - where will the sun get to at the peak of summer, winter and spring?  Where is the desirable sun to be harnessed and the undesirable sun to be calmed?
  4. Water flow (in our case a mild fall from the front of the block south east to the south west corner)
Then we did a first design to optimise for sun / shade:
  1. Shade for the man cave to the west to avoid it becoming an oven in summer and needing a lot of energy to cool
  2. Garden beds on the south boundary (will get full year's sun, but also summer shade because of the triangle shape)
  3. Other garden beds aligned to fence lines and on shade lines at various times of the year
  4. Flow, zones and hidden "rooms" for the kids to run around and get lost in
  5. Herb beds to insulate the edges of the concrete slab of the man cave
As you can see from the scribbles, and erase marks this plan has been worked and reworked quite a few times now.  Things have been added, deleted, moved around.  And no doubt it will be revised again before finalising.

In fact, here's an updated version that was done just while writing this blog.  Can you spot the differences?

We thought we'd share the process a little in case it sparks any ideas for you at your place.  If you feel inclined, click on some of the "drawings of a madman" for a closer view and see what ideas they spark for you... actually stop reading and do this now.

Yes, now.



We can't wait to get home and start marking out string lines to see it at scale.  And we'll post a few pics so you can see how it's coming together, possibly with some updated sketches.

In the mean time, if anyone's got any experience in applying the principles of wicking garden beds and root-level watering to ordinary domestic lawns, please post a comment below and let us know.  It's something we're keen to have a play with in our hot, dry summary climate.  We start earthworks in around 4-6 weeks.

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