for grown-ups

It’s important that us adults have a place in the garden too. Here are some ideas that we enjoy. Some of these aren’t cheap, but I think some things are worth spending money on to ensure quality. No point buying twice.

The Cacoon

I saw this at the RHS show at Tatton Park last year and had to have one. It’s great for relaxing in – you can pull the door across if you like, and it has a hanger for your beer bottle. Machine washable, made from the same material as sail fabric. Of course the boys love it too! Available here:

2015-06-05 17.11.02

Summer House

This is an old pergola from dad’s garden – these come up on ebay often for not much money. It was the chicken coup for a while, but we lost two chickens and the other went on an extended holiday to Cumbria, so we converted it. The floor has some Kingspan in that we found in a skip, covered with some decking that Savoy Timber were selling cheap. We filled out the walls with recycled plastic bottle insulation from and gravel board.

2015-01-25 11.45.23 Insulating the floor
2015-02-15 11.19.26 With floor (and new fence at the back)
2015-03-21 09.50.01 Adding insulation between the wall layers

Being south facing it’s a great place to hang out. The insulation makes it warm even in cooler weather, and it’s quite sheltered from the wind. The next plan is to get a better roof and experiment with a front.

2015-06-05 17.12.24 The (nearly) finished summerhouse

Here’s the front going on, mainly with timber rescued from a skip (I love skip diving, but ask first!).

2017-07-02 12.52.45

With the front on, and views from inside. A lot of the stuff comes from Wigton Free for All, a brilliant venture that supports the local community.

2017-07-19 14.55.17

Recently we’ve added windows made of some old Perspex. They slide out for summer. The idea is the summerhouse can be used in winter too – good for overwintering tender plants like lemons and olives.

We also added a ‘bar’ with an old chopping board and pole and some secondhand stools from the lovely Brunswick Yard in Penrith:


We splashed out on the greenhouse, it’s probably the biggest expense. But it’s worth it. There are cheaper greenhouses around, and you could buy second hand, but I wanted quality. This is where we’ll grow a lot of the new plants for the garden, and the boys spend a lot of time in here ‘growing’ things. It’s from Rhino They’re a bit fiddly to build, and the instructions aren’t great (don’t expect to do it in a day!), but when they’re finished they’re very strong. We paid extra for green finish (to blend in) and extra-strong glass (twin boys!). I love it.

2014-05-31 11.03.38 Under construction
2015-06-05 17.11.59 Finished, with summerhouse behind

Here’s the greenhouse at the moment. My favourite place to spend time with a cuppa.

2017-07-31 17.36.27



Veg Bed

Not strictly just for us as the boys like to dig too. We made this out of all the old fenceposts that were left over when we bought the extra strip of garden next to us last year. It’s just a basic rectangle, with all the old muck from the chicken coup thrown in. We stick to a ‘no dig’ regime, which seems to work well for the plants and saves time when you’re working and bringing up kids. More info here We put a path round and covered it with Lancashire river gravel from

2015-06-05 17.11.39 Veg bed with bean arch and summerhouse on the right

There’s nothing like growing and eating your own vegetables! Here it is at the moment (the unsuccessful bean arch, aka slug restaurant, has gone to Katie’s nursery garden):

2017-07-29 08.58.03


We experimented with the method of growing corn, beans and courgettes described in Dan Barber’s brilliant book The Third Plate (this book is having a huge influence on my philosophy of both food and garden in the way that it links the two by studying the complex relationships of natural ecosystems):

2017-05-26 21.11.16

Here’s the combination now. Plenty of courgettes and beans, time will tell with the corn…

2017-07-30 15.00.26

This year we’ve gone for some separated raised beds made with pallet collars.

I’ve allowed (and planted) wildflowers in between the gaps of the beds to attract more pollinators.



A bit like lighting in a house, I think it’s important to have seating all around the garden, not just in one place. That way you can be near the house or far away, in the sun or in the shade, on your own or with others. Here are some of ours.

2015-06-13 10.56.33
Katie’s dad made this Adirondack chair. It reminds me of holidays with our American friends in the Thousand Islands.
2015-06-13 10.57.29
A simple sleeper bench, surrounded by the shady bed

Our new area is where the old shed used to be. It wasn’t really being used so we knocked it down and built a seating area instead. From this…

2017-06-04 16.50.24

To this…

2017-07-19 14.51.05

The table’s made from scaffold board and pallet collars (you can pick these up on eBay). The back of the shed became the backdrop, with the rest of the shed becoming the sides of the new wood store (built around a cooker frame we got from The Lean Kitchen). The rest of the shed became kindling ready for winter.

Recently we found a load of old gym benches, plus some other wood, dumped in a skip. We were allowed to take them, so added a bench and a roof, with a waterbutt built in:


We didn’t build the wood store, it’s from the Rustic Log Store Company:

2017-07-30 16.04.15

An outdoor fire pit is next to it, ready for some summer cooking:


3 thoughts on “for grown-ups

    Andy Day said:
    June 14, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Think you’ve done more to your garden in 7 or so years than I’ve done to mine in 27. Fabulous ideas, great photos and lots for people to take away from your blog, Paul. Will be very interested to see how this develops.


      pclay119 responded:
      June 15, 2015 at 6:54 am

      Thanks Andy, glad you like it 🙂 It’ll be fun to see how it all develops over the coming years. All the best!


        pclay119 responded:
        June 21, 2015 at 10:57 am

        I’d heard about your site but not seen or read it, it’s great!


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