A New Start

We’ve been in the new house for about six weeks now and in that time a great deal of change has occurred both inside and out and there’s lots to write about and catch up on but first, I want to go back to the new garden as it was in late winter when we first arrived, before any major work was started on it.

The garden at 0.2 acres can be considered “sizeable” if not downright large. It is on  completely different scale and almost completely opposite to the old garden. However, what both gardens have in common is that they both required stripping back and returning to a blank canvas.

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Note: apologies for the poor quality pictures, I had still not figured out how to use the new camera on the phone.

The back garden is characterised by a somewhat dilapidated patio that runs the length of the house, it faces almost directly eastwards. As the garden is on a gently sloping site, it is built up considerably at the “deep end”. Ivy has grown rampant along the full length of the wall that edges the patio and you can see that I’ve already started pulling some of it off to see the state of the wall underneath. The restoration of the patio is going to be a major project. I hope to end up with a patio wall that will contain herbs and lots of trailing plants that will cascade over the side. Ivy will not be one of those plants.

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Various extensions to the house means there is just this side access from the front to the back. You can just about see the stumps of a few large buddleia shrubs and a large ceanothus (that reached and damaged the roof guttering). I cut these all down and opened up this whole area to what little light it gets. This is on the north side of the house and does not get direct sunshine so shade loving plants will be the only consideration here. The vibrant coloured trugs are strategically positioned to catch the rain falling from the leaking guttering and stop it splashing on the brickwork.

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The garden was very, very wet when we first arrived. The surface was completely saturated and you needed Wellington boots to get beyond about this point without getting your feet wet. There is still a lot of the garden to go. You can just see the roof of a shed towards the right, poking up from among the bamboo and rhododendrons. The shed needed a lot of work to restore it and make it usable. The line of trees form the boundary between us and the gardens that back onto us.

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Towards the back it became rather neglected and overgrown. The shed was surrounded by overgrown rhododendrons, the ivy on the trees was out of hand and the shed poking in from the left was a write-off, too damaged to save. A “discard heap” starts from the tree trunk on the left and we discovered a large electric toy car (that kids can sit in and drive) hidden among the jungle on the back right.

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The remains of three raised vegetable beds, long neglected. The previous garden simply didn’t have room to fit in all my favourite plants and vegetables, while the new one may. Vegetables could be making an appearance in this garden in some form or another, but don’t hold me to it, I’m still very much set on ornamentals. The position of these vegetable beds, by a large hedge, in a rain shadow, under the canopy of trees means they may have yielded a disappointing harvest.

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Standing on the patio, this is the view down the length of the garden, facing east, the long axis of the garden is exposed to the south and gets a lot of sun. The trees at the back create an area of strong-to-dappled shade, ideal of a future woodland garden. The pile of wood in the foreground is from an old pear tree on the patio (out of shot on the right) that we had begun to take down. There is also a pile of mounting rubbish beyond that from clearing out the side access.

The scale of the garden and the initial work needed just to bring all the unruly parts back under control is daunting and there is no doubt that it is a lot of work, but spring is in the air, the winter storms are over and a long season stretches ahead. The new garden has a tremendous amount of potential that I can scarcely begin to imagine and am very excited to uncover.

It’s know going to be an incredible journey and I know it’s going to be an incredible garden and it all starts here and now.

15 Comments


  1. Yay! Looking good Sunil. Well actually, it looks a wee bit frightening to me….. but you are the man for the job and no mistake. Whilst I have been weeding, filling in spaces with tubs of tulips waiting to be planted later, you have been jungle clearing. I think that this will be a quite different kind of garden than the last one, but if you are in the house for the long stay, then you can plan ahead, and make it a magic place. I will be waiting with bated breath for the next set of pics! Are you still over towards the East of the country?
    Mrs Mac.

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    1. Hello Mrs Mac, I’m planning to be here for at least as long as it takes to get this garden on par with the previous. As for what kind of garden it will be…even I can’t fathom, it’s too far into the future. We’re no longer on the eastern side of the country, we have relocated south west to an altogether more forested environment.

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      1. Come on! SW? that’s me! (although SW could be anywhere from the Cotswolds down to Bournemouth and anywhere west of that to the tip of Cornwall. However, we are on the Dorset coast, and if you feel that is near enough to come over for a look and a snip off of a few plants, feel really free!

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        1. Hello Mrs Mac, we’re all the way over in Berkshire, we moved from East Anglia (hence went south west as opposed to the South West). I’ll be looking you up though if we go for holidays in your direction and of course, the same holds vice-versa.

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  2. Looks like you are going to have a lot of fun creating a new garden! So many opportunities! Also seems like one or more rain gardens may be in order.

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    1. Hi Jason, conjuring up plans and ideas while looking throughout books and catalogues is a lot of fun. I’ll have to look up what rain gardens are, it’s a term I’ve seen in US blogs but not UK ones. Perhaps UK gardens are – by default – rain gardens, especially given the winter we’ve just had.

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  3. I think a rain garden is a good idea, too. I didn’t realize it was a US term. They can be sunken gardens that are designed to fill with water or they can feature a river bed, like mine, that fills with water when it rains. If your area has such poor drainage that it stays wet all summer, you may consider creating a bog garden or putting in a pond.But it will be fun to have a new space to design.

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    1. Hi Tammy, I see, that sounds like something I might have to incorporate for the soggy parts of the garden. I haven’t started full scale groundworks yet to see what the ground is like and how rep the soil is etc. The wet areas are drying out and it is gradually improving, I’ll have to see how quickly and easily it refills after a bit of rain.

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  4. Congratulations on being moved, Sunil. Your new property looks lovely. Making a new garden there will be a big job, but also a wonderful opportunity. I’m looking forward to seeing it develop.

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    1. Hi Jean, thank you, it’s going to be a huge job but so much has been done already, even though I’m still in the stages of paring things back there are lots of plants and ideas waiting in the wings. I just hope I’m patient enough to document it all properly to give a real sense of “before” and “after”, that was one of the things I regret not doing in the previous garden.

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  5. Congratulations! The house looks lovely from the outside and the garden is oozing potential. You are in for some fun! I look forward to seeing how your garden develops.

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    1. Hello Sarah, thank you, the potential the garden has is incredible, I just hope I can fulfil it. I’m very glad to have spent five years building up my knowledge and confidence in the previous, much smaller garden before setting out to tackle this one!

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  6. Wow, how lucky you are to have such a big garden. Are you going to ‘live with the garden for a year’ before you start planning anything? So many people seem to do this but I doubt I could hold back for a single second.

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    1. Hello Claire, yes, I feel very fortunate to be able to have a garden this size in which to garden. I’m currently clearing back a lot of overgrown growth and that might take the best part of a year to sort out, by which time I will be more than eager to get started on new borders. At the moment though it’s a question of getting the basic tools, planning and infrastructure in because this garden will have to be managed on an industrial scale. I’m thinking of tonnes of compost and manure, hundreds, even thousands of plants and same again of bulbs etc. That’s going to take some planning (and work).

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  7. Wow Sunil, what a change from your small garden “crammed with plants!” This is going to be a wonderful adventure and I can’t wait to go along for the ride!

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