Posted: 10/06/2013 at 21:20
Probably is all thin turf over all the rubble left over from construction. Standard practice in the building trade, that.
By the angles of shadows, I'm guessing the left side in the first picture is the north side, meaning that fence gets a lot of sun. Good spot for Choisya.
I'd agree with "bit by bit" but plan your bits so you don't find one in the way of another (never plant the bulbs before you've finished trimming the hedge behind them, for example) and in general I'd say start at one side and work your way across or start big and fill in the small stuff later. It's a lot easier to change your mind about the Asiatic lily than it is to change your mind about the apple tree, right?
Wheelchair on lawn ... depends on the wheelchair and the weather. Soggy lawns wouldn't be much fun. A loop of path may be a good addition. Space out the strongly-scented ones along it, so you and she can enjoy the different fragrances on the way round.
Check the estate rules before planting anything "heeyauge" because there may be some sort of tenants' agreement that covers owner-occupiers too and prohibits ... trees over 20ft, or whatever.
If Sarah's into birds, provision for birds should be a feature. They get "friendly" (made bold by desperation, more like, in some cases) when they're feeding the young. For the birds' sakes, it's best to put the feeders seven feet up, surrounded by dense thorn bushes, with no clear route for a hawk and nowhere a cat can climb up and jump across ... but that's not much good for someone in a wheelchair on the patio who wants to watch them and can't reach to refill the feeders. A feeder pole, out of pounce range of the fence, could be good. With a simple tool (L-shaped stick) the feeders could be lifted down for filling and lifted back up when full, and that would bring birds to the edge of the patio. It's a bit hawk-friendly, though. You'd want something big and thick (no, not the Colour Sergeant, a tree) close behind it to give them somewhere to hide. Hawthorn's fairly good at becoming cover, but not really friendly. An elder tree might do well, if you prune it hard. I cut one right back to a bare trunk here in autumn, and it regrew so quickly I had to prune it in June to stop the green branches breaking off under their own weight and again in November, and now it's a dense bush on a pole, which should become great bird cover next year after one more pruning this October or November.