“I have friends who are black, white, purple, grey straight, Martian, yellow, old and young. I have friends who are animals and a few who I believe to be robots. All of them are people to me. In my mind it’s not about what you look like or what you do, it’s about who you are inside.” Tracy Morgan
The Colour Purple
I was looking up the meaning of the colour purple for this article and came across the above quote; my thoughts exactly though I couldn’t have written them nearly so well.
Maybe we’ve become more aware now we carry the news in our pockets, but as a result of reading about the violence and inequalities that appear when screens are opened, my gratitude for everything we have at home is growing.
Our children and pets, the garden and space, the solitude, flora and fauna, the landscape and climate – yes we have to work hard to maintain our lifestyle, but we’re tremendously blessed to live in a country that’s not at war, something many aren’t. Our hopes for our children are that it will always stay the same but who knows. Life’s uncertainties and the realisation that we’ve spent 16 years renovating our old farmhouse and doing very little else have this year resulted in us deciding to embrace life, to journey around our little island and to introduce some FUN into our daily existence.
That’s why we considered painting the patio purple rather choosing a ‘safe’ landscaping material. It’s such a cheerful colour and blends in with so much around us.
Thankfully Ian is with me all away on the colour and agreed to let me run with it. The result: he’s as happy as I am and is talking about painting the back of our house purple too, “why stop at the front?” he says.
A concrete slab or a dry seating area
Our one acre site has evolved organically and the patio is no exception. We didn’t plan to have a seating area next to the front door, overlooking the driveway. Yet nine years ago when the lorry delivered too much concrete for the new hallway floor, we had to make a quick decision. We asked the driver to dump the excess in exactly that spot, not thinking about the long-term consequences. We leveled the quick drying substrate as best we could before it set and ever since, that dreary grey slab measuring 3.6m X 2.6m has been the only dry surface seating area in our garden.
I used to blame the Irish weather for not wanting to sit outside for long; it was too chilly or windy and not conducive to relaxation. But I was wrong, it had nothing to do with the temperature but more to do with the uninspired outdoor seating.
Since the transformation, we’re enjoying sitting outside so much we’re already talking about creating another outdoor space in one of the ruins that we can cover with tarpaulin to keep the showers off. It might house the pallet-made bar and stools that are next on Ian’s woodwork list as well as the barbecue and fire pit that rarely make it out of the shed.
But that’s a job for 2017, for now we’re looking forward to lots of outdoor entertaining and evenings bat and stargazing. If you’re wondering how we created this low-cost, tiny purple patio read on.
Three is the Magic Number
Once I began to think of paint as an alternative to other landscaping surfaces, three things happened simultaneously.
Firstly I asked my herb garden clients from Advanced Coatings for some advice on outdoor concrete paint and they generously gifted me some of their Tikkurila product range by way of a thank you for the planting design we’d worked together to create. I looked through the sheath of colours on offer, finally choosing a shade of purple that would complement our plum coloured limestone driveway, the royal purple front door and the lilac window surrounds.
Secondly Ian discovered a love for pallet furniture, having made a couple of vertical planters recently. He built a pallet herb planter fence that borders the patio, able to hold lots of herbs that can be grabbed while we’re cooking, saving us the short but often crucially timed walk to the veggie patch. Everything planted into the fence has been grown from seed in our polytunnel and includes mixed salad leaves, coriander, thyme, sage, parsley and rainbow beetroot.
Not content with pallet planters and fencing, this flurry of woodworking led Ian to build two pallet seats that will be part of the pop up community garden that I was invited to coordinate again in the Global Green village at Electric Picnic. The low seat was made from one and a half pallets, the larger one used two. Ian’s talking about making more benches and a coffee table. I’m holding my breath, bringing him lots of tea and hoping he doesn’t get bored with his new hobby too soon!
The third element in the patio makeover is that we took a trip to ReCreate in Dublin and stocked up on hessian sacks, artificial grass, woollen off-cuts and many other adornments that will be helping us, along with the other ten stakeholders involved, create a fun space at the music festival.
ReCreate is a remarkable organisation that was recently shortlisted for the €100K Social Entrepreneur Inspire fund. The idea behind the enterprise is that they store unwanted, end of line surplus materials from business and make them available to members such as schools, pre-schools, youth groups and art groups for create activities. Many of the items and materials would ordinarily end up in landfill but thanks to this innovative idea, they’re now being used to create pieces of art. The idea is that groups pay an annual membership fee and take what they want as often as they want from the warehouse. It’s a treasure chest of goodies, an Aladdin’s Cave for crafting. We spent three hours there like kids in a toy shop and could easily have stayed longer. ReCreate will be part of the Global Green garden at the Festival too and we’re looking forward to spending more time with them.
Come and Visit Us at Electric Picnic
If you’re at Electric Picnic do drop by and say hello. There are lots of events, activities, seating and crafts planned for Global Green that will encourage people to think about the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. You might even go home with some seating ideas of your own.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this and have a small garden or patio that you’re considering making over yourself, the following article contains suggestions for 14 vegetables you might like to grow in a small garden.