The partner has come up with a bizarre form of punishment. He has written down on separate slips of paper all the tasks that need to be done to return our garden to its former (well, in another lifetime) pristine state, put them in a bowl, and is insisting that two be drawn out every weekend and completed.
We are not to embark on any new tasks, he says, until these are finished.
There are more than a dozen and none of them are anything you could get exited about. For example:
- Weed the northern stream bank.
- Spread out the topsoil for the new garden bed.
- Re-position crooked railway sleepers along the driveway.
I particularly hate the last one. Pruning means he gets up the ladder while I stand underneath the tree and tell him which branches to cut and precisely where.
He disobeys. I grumpily drag the branches to the rubbish pile. Huge fun.
"Boring old fart," I accused him after he'd finished his list. "How about putting these ones in?"
- Build a summer house at the bottom corner to get the last of the evening sun.
- Make some sort of funky fire pit that won't cost an arm and a leg.
- Do something terribly clever with timber battens to make the tin fence look better.
Fortunately, his commitment to the boring jobs is not much stronger than mine, and if I can source a picture of some interesting and not-too-demanding project we can do instead, he's not that hard to persuade.
If you're in the same boat - ie, tired of those uninspiring autumn jobs and keen to do something creative - here's some inspiration.
Groovy garden shed
It's possible I'm attracted to this paint job for two reasons.
One is that it looks very much like my favourite sloppy jersey (which has a distressed look and therefore always looks like it's inside out), and the style of the paint job is similarly distressed and doesn't require too much skill - or even much paint, I suspect.
Choose your two colours and slap on flat acrylic paint over whatever's there. Eschew preparation - you don't want it looking perfect. However you do want it to stick, so if the shed's painted in chocolate brown enamel, give it a coat of sealant first.
There are quite a few sealants you can apply which will allow you to paint just about anything over anything. My kind of product.
This was one hideous fence, built of cheap fibro and painted charcoal to try to make it recessive. Didn't work. But a bundle of garden stakes from the local nursery, tapped into place with a few nails, has given it quite a smart look. Any kind of scrap timber will do, and your battens don't even have to be all the same width.
Experiment with whatever you have lying around. We used the slats off a derelict futon for a similar job, where they performed far better than they ever did as a bed.
An added advantage was that the ends of ours were already cut on an angle, which gave the job quite a professional look.
Here's something else to do with an obsolete bed. Use the frame to support a few rustic planks and you have a raised bed, to coin a phrase.
It's the perfect height, the paint job brightens up what might otherwise have been a rather dreary corner, and someone clever and creative has made matching frames to tack on the fence.
These ones have bags of plant food in them but you could use them for all sorts.
Outdoor fireplaces can be eye-wateringly expensive, especially the smart gas versions that are more stylish than anything I've ever had even inside the house.
If there's no budget for one of those, there will be for one of these.
Trawl the local junk shops for any kind of metal basin and a few suitable bits of iron for legs.
All you need do then is to partly fill it with
white stone chips and inset a small oil or gas burner.
It's quicker than a brazier and easier to turn on and off.
How could you not love this garden seat? You could paint up an existing one, or put new, painted timber slats on an old frame.
Failing that, distract The Partner from his pruning and get him to knock one up from scratch, and set to with a few paint brushes and all the colours you can lay your hands on.
If you want to emulate that "I have been out in the weather for 20 years" look, wait till your handiwork is well dry and then sand off some of the paint surface.
Follow up with a coat of polyurethane to prolong its life.
The great thing about this kind of artwork is, you really can't make a mistake.