Our house – as described by the marketing brochure when we were looking to buy – has an upper and lower terrace. The lower terrace translates into a long strip of cracked and fraying concrete while the upper terrace translates to a large expanse of square concrete flags, each one at a slightly different angle to all the others; oh, and what pointing? The less said about the state these two were in before we had a go at them, the better. In the couple of years we have been here we’ve gradually restored these terraces to the point where the next improvement will be to completely relay both. These terraces are lumped together into what I simply call, “the patio”.
When we moved from our previous garden in 2014 we brought many plants with us. Some were from the old patio while others were particular plants taken from the borders. When we arrived at the new house they were all set on the new patio, nervously huddled together in the centre and making for the very first iteration of the “Nomadic Patio Pot Plants”.
It wasn’t much to look at but when compared to the state of the rest of the garden, it was a green and flowery oasis among an expanse of soggy grass and untamed scrub. It was also a collection of nostalgia and memories of the previous garden that was left behind; a garden that I was growing into maturity and which all of a sudden, was returned back to square one with this new garden. Unfortunately there was no amount of flower power that could detract from how dirty and uneven the patio was. Reclaiming it from the rampant ivy and overgrown pear tree only highlighted how badly it needed attention.
With the house move and working on taking the garden back to a blank canvas, there was little time to work on cleaning up the patio. The initial patio pot collection soon grew through the discovery of nearly fifteen dahlias and ten hostas that we found discarded at the back of the garden. These joined the rest of the pots on the patio and with donations from the parents and the results of many enthusiastic trips to the garden centre, the Nomadic patio pots grew into a much more substantial display.
It was still filthy though. In early 2015 I waged chemical warfare against the patio. The concrete flags were attacked with strong acid to dissolve the grime then bleached to give a gleaming, clean finish. The campaign lasted many days and many scrubbing brushes perished but in the end, we finally discovered the true nature of the patio and revealed its original colours. The difference was like night and day.
The new, brilliant finish of the patio reflected more light and heat and its orientation meant the patio became an amazing sun trap. The patio pot collection itself grew with more bounties from the parents and the garden centre. It swelled in anticipation of the plants that were due to go into the new borders being created in the garden proper. With all these new pots, the maintenance would have become overwhelming were it not for a pot irrigation/watering system that had a hand in keeping the potted plants alive in the strongest heat of the summer on a patio that baked in sunshine (when we had some).
The display for 2015 was different again; many of the plants had changed, many of the pots were new and the layout was changed over the season as the plants grew and spread. The nomadic patio pot display was fluid, it shifted and it was this year that I learned that a patio pot display isn’t set in stone, it could be changed to suit the plants, to suit the gardener, to suit whims.
Towards the end of the year, after a stunning display through the season, the nomadic patio pot collection was reduced to a mere skeleton of its former self. The collection had been predated on as many of the pot plants were taken to be planted out in the new borders, the potted annuals had finished and what was left was the permanently potted set of plants.
Over winter 2015/16, the patio was completely cleared, ready for it to be cleaned again and this time, sealed. The next year I was determined to reduce the size of the nomadic patio pots so as to spend less time maintaining them and more time working on the new borders. Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way.