Although it seems a long time ago now, memories of the Summer of 2013 will linger. It was the perfect summer, full of warm sunny days, when all sorts of records were broken for the warmest, driest, sunniest summer in years.
For us, it was also the summer of the garden.
I've always been an armchair gardener, with dreams of a wonderful cottage garden but no desire to do any hard work to achieve it.
|Toffee surveys the improvements|
A combination of miserable wet summers and a lack of enthusiasm for embarking on outdoor projects unless the weather is perfect, meant that our garden had become seriously neglected and overgrown.
Think jungle without the tropical climate.
At one stage, I dared to suggest that perhaps we'd need to get 'help' in order to reclaim it. This was just the sort of challenge that my husband needed, and, with the surprisingly willing assistance of the teenager who had finished his exams, he set to ensuring that I'd eat my words.
First, I had to accept that we were never going to have a cottage border and that the weeds were always going to win. Out went all the plants except the forsythia, down went black matting and gravel.
Colour could be provided by plants in pots, containers, boxes.
Then, the piece de resistance, which strangely enough was the part of the project which captured our son's imagination and made him a willing worker, a corner arbour.
|Newly erected arbour|
We first saw one in the showroom of B&Q in Newry, just across the border, and after a few days deliberation, decided that we must have one. But getting it proved more difficult that we'd imagined.
We discovered that we had missed out on buying the last one in the Newry store and they didn't know when they'd get another one in. I phoned around all the stores in Northern Ireland and it was the same story. Frustratingly, there was no shortage of arbours from several DIY stores and even supermarkets for gardeners living in the UK, but Irish gardeners, were, it seemed, out of luck unless they had the budget for a bespoke creation. I told a friend about the difficulty we were having and she suggested I'd try B&Q in Dublin. I'd forgotten that they had stores in the Irish Republic, and one phone call later and the arbour was ordered. Even better there was a sale on.
|The finished product - painted|
Once it was delivered a few days later, husband and son set about erecting and then painting it. It looks even better than we had hoped and has proven a great addition to our garden.
|Arbour with a view|
Even now when the weather is colder, it's a good spot to sit, sheltered from the wind, and watch the pets.
And best of all, I've now got the enthusiasm to do some gardening even when the weather's not perfect.
When I was on holidays last week, I planted lots of daffodils in containers and am looking forward to seeing them bloom in spring.