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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.