(I can’t find garden photos for 2011, but if they turn up, I will make a post about the garden in 2011).

From my post about our garden in 2010, we sadly had to put our beautiful dog, Fred, to sleep in January 2011. His loss was absolutely enormous and we were utterly heartbroken. To this day, we think of him often and refer to him. He was such a major part of our lives and a special part of our family. He was so loved by all of our family and friends.

(Fred, in 2008 with a giant tennis ball, which he adored).

By 2012, we had been well used to filling out existing plant beds with cottage bedding plants. In addition to that, we created some trial veggie patches and we put up a poly-tunnel. These all gave us ample room for growing our first serious crop of home grown veg. The poly-tunnel became a place for interesting varieties of tomatoes, bell-peppers and chillie-peppers. It worked well. In the veg patches, we grew beans, brassica, lettuce, pak choi, cabbage, courgettes and pumpkins; to name a few.

In the centre of the garden, I planted a pink blossom cherry tree and at the furthest end of the garden, from the cottage, I planted a white blossom cherry tree. Trees were something we always loved to plant at any new home we have lived in but we had also decided that this would be a garden in which I would try to create a wildlife sanctuary and habitat. I wanted to contribute to putting hedgerows back and so we planted hedging around the perimeter fence. The fence was now all in place and secure.

I chose hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and hornbeam for the hedge. This would be a wildlife hedge and would line the fence that borders the adjacent field. We added a few more ornamental shrubs into the hedge and were excited for it to grow. That took a little longer, of course.

We had plenty of people over for meals and drinks in the garden and so we had invested in our first garden chairs and table, here. The ground, however, is very sandy and so any furniture would sink easily! We added a patio to our ‘to do’ list, for when we could find the time and the money for it.

By the end of the year, with the veg patches, the poly-tunnel, the hedge planted and the trees in, and not forgetting our patio furniture, we had a basic infrastructure from which we could start to imagine the future development of the garden.

Already, we had seen woodpeckers, rabbits, hedgehogs, all manner of smaller birds, mice, shrews, owls and even snakes in our garden. The idea of it becoming the wildlife sanctuary we had hoped for was already starting to become reality and this was exciting.

By the end of the year, however, we were both so dreadfully aware of the absence of having a dog, which was particularly difficult for me as I have always had dogs in my life. We missed Fred so much. It was in November that we aquired our two new little puppies. We called them Digby (the brown one) and Oscar (his brother with the mainly white coat). These two little terriers have been the source of both much swearing and much laughter ever since. đŸ™‚

To summarise, I would say that this year was all about infrastructure developing and learning how to grow food, attract wildlife in and developing a social space for entertaining. It was, by the end of the year, also about managing two cheeky terrier puppies who, despite the chaos they wrought, brought with them such fun.

One thing I am pleased to say is that they did not disuade any wildlife from coming to our garden. Earlier in the year, in the continued absence of Fred, next door’s cat, Daisy, would come and sit with me in the garden. I am not a ‘cat person’; not least of all because I have an allergy to cats, but this little cat was just beautiful and she was utterly lovely. I truly appreciated her company, having been so used to Fred being with me at all times, Daisy offered a presence in the garden that was just a similarly joyful one. There was a downside, however. With any cat comes a decline in the bird population. Daisy killed so very many birds. While I missed her when in early 2013 she moved with her owner to a new area, I have to say that seeing the wildlife we had worked hard to atrract, come back to us in considerable numbers, was just wonderful.

I do believe we need to address the size of the cat population in the UK, for the amount of small mammals and birds that cats kill every day is staggering.

Well, that was 2012 in our Suffolk cottage garden. I will post about 2013 soon, so do come back and see how I progressed the garden.

Please feel free to share your own garden stories, in the comments below.