The very first Outside the Back Door appeared ten years’ ago this month! Anyone who has edited any sort of magazine, church, club, whatever, will know that feeling of staring at vast amounts of white space between the essential news and the occasional item that someone has kindly bothered to give you. Outside the Back Door sprung out of my need to fill anything up to two sides of A5 in my church magazine. Over the years it’s proved to be a bit of a hit with lots of positive feedback. All of which has led to me taking the plunge to move online!
So to give you a flavour of what’s to come, here’s a bit of reflection on what has gone before. My first article was entitled A sad demise – not exactly a positive note to start on! The article focused on the death of our monkey puzzle tree which was such a landmark feature when we bought our house back in February 2000. It made it incredibly easy to give directions to where we lived – just drive straight to the end of the road and look for the monkey puzzle. We never got to the bottom of what killed it and we’ve never taken the plunge back into monkey puzzle ownership!
It was perhaps ironic that my first article focused on outside the front door rather than the back and it’s rather sad to look back and see that our front garden, small as it is, seems to have only featured when disaster has struck! In the December 2013/January 2014 issue it popped up again, this time after the St Jude’s storm of the previous October which had felled our eucalyptus tree. This had originally been planted as a tiny pot plant into a mixed container positioned to fill the space left by the monkey puzzle. Being a eucalyptus (they rarely grow small), it had managed to take root through the base of the pot and had become far too big for its boots. One freak gust and it had been uprooted. Several attempts were made to re-pot it but it was to no avail. The roots had been ripped and had sounded its death knell. (The picture is rubbish but you get a sense of what happened!)
Apart from these episodes, I’m pleased to say that the column has generally taken a more positive approach covering, amongst other things, the development of our vegetable plot, the creation of our pond and the arrival of our cats! Overall our garden has proved to be a rich source of inspiration, underlining the importance of urban gardens to our environment and well-being. This is currently being highlighted by the Royal Horticultural Society’s Greening Grey Britain campaign which highlights:
“Today one in four front gardens is completely paved over and our community green spaces are also under threat, with many parks facing a crippling lack of proper funding. This trend for grey replacing green degrades the living environment, increasing flood risk and reducing air quality. It has also been linked to growing mental and physical health problems as well as having dire consequences for wildlife.”
I am proud to think that our little patch of green can be helping the wider environment in some way.