“TV’s favourite gardener”, Monty Don, inspires Jez Rose, a frustrated behaviourist and amateur gardener, to grow a new life, as detailed in Tales from the Farm. Monty Don’s book inspired Jez to buy a farm in the countryside, create his own garden and write about the joy, obsession and mud.
Since Mrs Jez and I moved from our suburban 3 bed semi to the farm back in November 2016, embarking on a journey to test my theories about how nature impacts human health, wellbeing and behaviour – and along the way going organic, so much has happened and changed: we moved into a plot of essentially just grass and concrete yard; a roof has fallen in; we had the worst bathroom fitters in the world ruin our bathroom; we found wood worm in the small barn; almost everything that could break, did break; the main electric cable supplying the farm was severed…
And it needs to be finished by 3rd May when I run my first course in the new barn (which isn’t yet finished). So many of you have booked onto courses with The Good Life Project – and I look forward to meeting many of you throughout the year – that I thought I’d share with you some before and after photos of the project so far. Things change daily here and week by week quite dramatic changes happen.
When we first moved on, the small barn was entirely covered (no exaggeration) in ivy and green waste.
Completely stripped of the invasive greenery, roof repaired and treated for wood worm, the glory of the small barn, built circa 1850 is revealed.
The bare patch of grass (which we later discovered was covering rubble and more concrete) is stripped by our fantastically helpful and patience neighbour in his JCB!
Completely transformed and now a functional, peaceful and productive space – our vegetable garden and heather bank.
Just days after moving in, the roof collapses.
Doors and windows replaced, suddenly the farm begins to look a little more authentic (and is significantly warmer and less draughty!).
My real passion is the garden – for an amateur gardener, my interest kindled by my late Grandma, the blank canvas we inherited was a dream. Here is a bed of the rose garden, stripped of weeds and ivy and the soil dug over and fed, ready for planting.
Standard and bush roses planted, as Spring breaks we discover some surprise bulbs!
It took weeks to transfer the many pots that came with us from our suburban garden into the garden. The bare wall at the right of the photo was screaming for something to do with it – but what?
A conservation project! Bee, bug and butterfly houses collected from various places we’ve visited and a few home-made editions, too.
The beginnings of what will be the jewel garden slowly transforms a corner of bare grass. The flat muddy part denotes the path that will be laid. Day 1 of the willow woven fence.
In no time at all, a simple willow fence gives definition and structure to the jewel garden.
90% complete, the vegetable garden now has seeds in – the concrete to the lower part of the photo is the courtyard where the barn is – this area will be gravelled so it flows from the vegetable garden and planted as another secluded garden.
The reverse view showing the empty yard, where the barn is now being built.
The main structure of the barn is almost complete and in just a few days will be clad
A little “airy” but a great space for courses and extracting honey.
Jez Rose is a behaviourist, broadcaster and Faculty Lead for The Good Life Project; a research project evidencing the impact of nature on health, behaviour and wellbeing. Ambassadors include broadcasters Kate Humble and the Soil Association. For free brain tricks and be