Who is behind Cornerstone Garden Life?

Hi! First of all, thank you for making it this far on my website. I hope you'll find some handy tips on growing your own food, a tasty recipe on something you've grown or foraged for, or some helpful idea to make something yourself. It’s always a bit awkward to talk about yourself, but I suppose it’s good to open up and share some things with you, to give you a better idea about my background, passions, and where I am coming from with all this.

Secondly, please me introduce myself, I'm Juliette and a Dutch national living in beautiful South Devon in a little market town called Kingsbridge. I moved here back in December 2010 after having finished my bachelor degree of interior architecture & furniture design in Belgium. Prior to that I did a degree in the Netherlands learning all about interior styling and painting (in- & exteriors ~ not like Van Gogh).

Since moving into our current house in 2013, I've had to start gardening. Before moving into this house I had no clue on how to keep a houseplant alive let alone a whole garden! Quite daunting. It took me a good few years to get where I am now with the gardening process and the practices I've in place to be as conscious of the natural world as possible.

We have been extremely lucky with our large garden. The way it is laid out is not my design and I'm not sure I would've been able to design it this way if it was just a bare hill of grass (or mud). It has truly become my happy place, where I can let my freak flag fly and let loose some of my many crazy ideas (often those are followed by my husbands eye rolling 🙄 can't blame him!). Glitter ball in the greenhouse for example? Why yes. Yes, that's needed.

Permaculture Garden Design Principles

As we all know by now, more than ever, is that the planet needs us to take better care of it. Peat should stay in the peat bogs where it belongs, we should not dig our soil over. This does not only release locked in carbon, it destroys the microscopic life that dies when we dig into it. And it also disrupts the webs of mycorrhizal fungi which help plants reach and absorb more nutrients and moisture. Mycorrhizal is also called 'the wood wide web'. It's all connected. And just like it is with single use plastic, it's better that a million people do it imperfectly than a handful to go completely plastic free.

As part of my gardening I practice a thing called Permaculture. This means that what I plant, whether it's vegetable or flowers & fruit, all of them will be interplanted with each other. This to attract all possible wildlife. Down to the unwanted ones. They're all needed and part of the ecosystem. We're only here for stewardship of borrowed land (but that's a discussion for another time) and we have nature taxes to pay (ie. let caterpillars and slugs etc eat -some- of our crops). I'm also a big fan of companion planting. An example I love is using calendula and nasturtiums as trap crops in between vegetables like brassicas. This so my brassicas will be left alone by things like aphids & caterpillars.


Garden Set up & Layout

I’m very fortunate to have such a big garden and even more so to have inherited the layout or bare bones if you like from the previous owners. The sleeper steps, the greenhouse platform, the patio and the two areas behind that. Sure, all my plans for the garden are based on working with what’s there but I don’t mind. Saves having to re do everything. 

So, here we are! This is my growing space. These images were taken August 2021 and it shows the whole garden (plus how steep it actually is 😆) the garden starts in the alley at the bottom with the sleeper steps (as I lovingly call them) and stretches all the way to just past that big green leafed tree, behind that tree and just out of shot is a big shed, spanning the full width of the garden (about 6 meters). A lot needs doing to it but that can wait for now.

The areas I’ve named are (working my way from the bottom to the top);
🌱 Hot garden or sleeper steps (lavender and a dahlia & canna bed)
🌱 Kitchen garden (aka Big raised bed where I grow all my veggies)
🌱 Greenhouse
🌱 Patio (lots of space to dine & entertain, wisteria covered pergola to replace the big pond)
🌱 Woodland orchard meadow or cool garden
🌱 Wild perennial pond (this is to be developed yet still but will contain a new pond)
🌱 Courtyard
🌱 Front yard