Is there a right time to leave a much loved garden?

I’m finding it quite painful receiving tempting seed catalogues in the post when, at the moment, it’s not clear where I am going to live and what type of garden I will inherit. Apart from committing ideas and plans to paper, I feel I can’t actively do anything practical yet for a garden in 2018. I am beginning to think that October, when the garden is preparing to go to bed, is the best time to move, not at the start of the year with Spring beckoning and an abundance of colourful brochures packed with goodies whetting the appetite.

Towards the end of 2017 I spent a fair bit of my budget buying spring bulbs, designing the colour schemes and adding to the pots I already have, which at the last count numbered just over 30! Some of you reading this will smile and think to yourselves “that’s nothing, you want to see how many containers I have”.

Last year along with Cosmos, sweet peas, calendula to name but a few, I also grew dahlias successfully from seed. The dahlias were planted out into the flowerbeds, I didn’t dig them up and the new owner of the garden may benefit from them in 2018, that’s if they get through the winter and recently waterlogged beds.

I defy anyone with a love of gardening, not to resist buying a plant, or even plants, as a memento of a happy time spent visiting other gardens, either NGS or National Trust/English Heritage properties. After 17 years, my garden is full of memories, many of which I know I have to leave behind. As much as I would love to, I can’t bring myself to strip the whole place – also I’m not sure the removal men will take too kindly to more than half a garden centre to move! It has been a very difficult decision to pick what to take and what to leave behind. The photo above is the Tree Peony I bought from Stanstead House in April 2017. I have always promised myself one of these and although it only produce one bloom, it was splendid and I have no intention of leaving it behind. It is now in a container by the back door and fingers crossed has taken the transition from flowerbed to pot in its stride.

Is there a right time to move, if you have a garden, let alone a much loved garden? I don’t think there is, it’ll be an emotional wrench whatever time of the year. With a bit of luck, all going well and conveyancers not dragging their heels, I will be in a new home by Easter and have plenty of time to sow seeds and nurture new plants, as well as enjoy my transported spring bulb laden pots.

Exploring All Avenues

Project ‘New Home’ continues. I have a buyer who is not in a chain and happy to wait until I have found somewhere I want to live. With not much equity after paying off the mortgage I am restricted to what I can afford. Lots of things need to be taken into account:

  1. Ease of access to family and friends – so the North of England, Scotland and Wales are out of the question!
  2. With my health history I really should be near a good hospital – God forbid I would ever need it again;
  3. I must have some sort of outdoor area, even if it’s a small sunny courtyard for 30 pots at the last count to find a home for and I am happy never having to mow a lawn again; and
  4. I need to be near the sea. Some things I am not prepared to compromise on.

At the suggestion of my youngest, just to keep her happy, I looked at retirement flats an option I had dismissed out of hand. I know, I thought the same – even though they advertise for the over 60’s I am still not old enough for the communal lounge scenario.

However, exploring all avenues, let’s call this one Plan X, it had to be investigated. I went with a good friend on Saturday to view a ground floor, one bedroom flat just down the road from me. It had a lovely west facing aspect looking out on to lawns and a large patio area, just right for my pots. With a large lounge, small but decent kitchen and the bathroom, although internal, and needed the shower chair removed (!!), had recently been modernised. At a good price with money to spare it ticked all the boxes, despite the age of the nosey residents who where itching to find out who we were, I thought this could possibly suit and it meant not moving far from where I am now. I even felt quite excited at one point.

Then I looked up and saw a large crack right across the ceiling and down the wall. “Oh” said the estate agent, “that’s just cosmetic, the owner’s daughter is arranging for it to be repaired and it will definitely be dealt with before anyone moved in”. He must have thought me totally stupid and gullible, I wasn’t going to accept that. The first thing I did on Monday was ring the Estate Manager of the flats, to be told there was a major leak a year ago from the upstairs flat, the damage had been repaired but the cracks have appeared again and they are monitoring to check it is not structural – eeek! He told me it would be at least until the middle of the year before anything is done as it is an insurance issue.

Financial Folly

After reading several articles about the hidden costs of buying a retirement home, I can now fully understand why they are so reasonably priced (cheap) and notoriously difficult to sell.

Leaks leaks and more leaks

  • You are in the hands of the retirement company who own the complex and they are responsible for buildings insurance so repairs of any defect can take an age to fix. We spoke to one resident who is still waiting after 3 months for her ceiling to be fixed after a leak from upstairs. Yes, another leak – imagine how often that might happen with forgetful elderly residents upstairs who turn on taps and walk away.

The sting in the tail

  • The majority of residential home companies charge an exit fee into what is called a sinking fund. This particular company Anchor Homes charge 2.85% of the purchase price times the number of years you have lived there. So for example if I bought the flat at £115,000 and live there for 10 years, I would pay Anchor almost £33,000 on selling. As well has having paid £3,000 a year service charges.

Whilst a retirement flat rarely makes a good financial investment, they can be a life saver for some – but not for this girl!

Back to Plan A – the Isle of Wight and more about that soon.

Project ‘New Home’ has Commenced

Project New Home has commenced!

Step One – I’ve accepted an offer on my home with a planned completion by Easter.

Step Two – Conveyancing solicitors have been instructed and the Property Information form completed and returned. I’m waiting now for my Buyer’s lender to send the surveyor.

My emotions spin around like a tumble drier from excitement to panic at the prospect. Whilst I’m totally against using age as an excuse for doing anything, the last time I moved I was nearly 20 years younger and fitter. I’m doing this on my own and whilst I don’t remember feeling the need for advice and support then, I get waves of the need for a shoulder to rely on.

At this stage you might be asking why am I moving, if I feel like this. There are lots of reasons, mainly financially driven following my retirement at the end of this month (😀🎉🎊😀) but also I am in need of a change and I’m not tied to where I live now after Mum’s death in June 2017. Of course I have good friends here and being within travel distance to visit is being taken into account.

The above photo is looking over the Solent from the Isle of Wight. Why the Isle of Wight?

Step Three – This is one place I’m going to investigate, the first of a few areas. Some friends have thrown their hands up in horror “What on earth do you want to live there for?” I like the Isle of Wight, it’s a holiday island yet it is still accessible to family and friends. I’m not too concerned about the ferry to the mainland. There are some lovely interesting places including Ventnor with the wonderful Ventnor Botanic Garden and you can’t forget Osborne House.. Step Four – I have booked a hotel stay on the Isle of Wight for a couple of days to have a good old recce to see what is on offer. There are only so many hours I can spend looking at Rightmove on the Internet, I need reality.

Meanwhile, my joke is that I will be The Lady in the Van and find a drive to park in. There is always that option!!!

Nine of 2017

Nine photos of many taken in 2017 of the flowers in my garden.

Top Row: Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’; Calibrachoa Can Can ‘Coral Reef’ a Begonia and Erigeron; Dahlia ‘Tsuki No Yori Shiska’;

Middle Row: Sweet Pea ‘Distant Horizon Mix’; Agapanthus; Echinacea ‘White Swan’;

Bottom Row: Alstroemeria; Rudbeckia ‘Rustic’; selection of Dahlias – ‘Crazy Love’ ‘Frank Kafka’ ‘Purple Gem’ and ‘Teesbrook Audrey’.

2018 Will Be A New Start

Watch this space! The new ‘Hurtled to 60’ blog will be unwrapped soon.

After 4 months of my blog lying dormant, I am picking up the reins again. 2018 is going to be an exciting, if not a somewhat scary year. I had always intended to retire from my job in July 2018, my 67th birthday. However an unexpected and unwanted move at work to a different team made me rethink my plans. I was given no choice on this move, but then I realised I had two choices, accept it or leave, so I chose the latter.

YESTERDAY I GAVE MY EMPLOYER NOTICE OF MY RETIREMENT – eek! My last day of working will be 25th January.

The other big change in my life is I AM MOVING and leaving my beautiful garden. I have accepted an offer on my flat and am looking for a new place to lay my hat, not forgetting a place for my garden tools and many pots.

My ‘Hurtled to 60’ blog will follow my new ventures in 2018, two of the biggest steps in one’s life. Going into the unknown is nerve wracking but an adventure.

Please continue to follow my search for a new home with a garden and adjusting to life in retirement.