A pile of old bricks had to be moved from one area of the yard and neatly stacked in the driveway, the dead plants from a previous yard project, unable to withstand this year's harsh winter had to be thrown out, and those that had survived, or at least showed signs of life, were pruned, re-potted and put aside for future replanting.
In truth it was a mundane day's manual work with not much creativity needed, but still there was a sense of satisfaction at the end, to see a tidied space full of possibilities. And at the end of the day it was comforting to be joined by an inquisitive blackbird casting a curious eye over our activities and a greedy eye towards the abundance of wormlife we had unearthed.
As the light faded, we decamped to our local hostelry and, over a pint and a glass of wine, leafed through our burgeoning collection of urban gardening books, making some early decisions on what techniques we can use to build the space and what plants we need to introduce in order to create the perfect space for the wide variety of bird and insect life that co-inhabits the yard. Anna got to work on the choice of plant and planting design schemes, while Andy set about some early designs for some communal seating, a pergola for the stage area and some bespoke bird feeding solutions. Early thoughts on planting centred around the need to choose varieties that not only provide bird and insect life with food and nesting spaces, but, because we won't have the time to be constantly tending the space, varieties that can live and thrive with minimal attention. So we looked towards hardy perennials that produce berries and pollen and early favourites were the rowan tree, holly bushes, crab apple trees and pyrocanthas.