The Anniversary

On this day, exactly three years ago, we moved to the South East (UK) and everything changed. Not only did we move house, but with that we moved garden. The old garden was my very first and I spent five years learning, experimenting, creating and perfecting it from a bare canvas. That was all to be left behind for somewhere completely new.

But also somewhere much bigger.

The old garden, lovely as it was, was so small I had quickly run out of border space. On its last day with me as the head gardener, it was wet, cold, dull and rather miserable.

The garden arches, rose towers and several plants had been uprooted and were making the move with us but most of the garden was staying behind for the new owners, including some very special plants such as the five year old wisteria and mature double cherry. When the sun rose on our new garden it revealed a new blank canvas so large just the patio itself could swallow the old garden and still have room to spare.

It may as well have been a football field for the size of it. The sheer scale of the work required to restore this new garden to the level of the previous one quickly dawned on me, but with great work comes great rewards and gradually, as one area after another was tended to, cleared, rejuvenated and restored, some semblance of a garden began to emerge and I regained the feeling of having a “special” garden, you know, “the one with all the lovely plants and flowers”.

Over the three years we’ve had to work on this garden we’ve brought in many tons of soil, had countless trips to the garden centre, grown hundreds of plants, planted hundreds of bulbs and walked miles trying to find where I left that damn trowel. It’s difficult to appreciate the transformation after this long, particularly around the house with the patio, the front, sides and near borders (the “skirt” around the house). Where it once looked a little like this:

It now looks more like this:

The view from the patio used to look like this:

It now looks like this:

Being the end of February, this is the worst the garden will look and don’t forget that this is still a construction site; it only gets better from here.

At this point we’re not even half-way through restoring the garden. It will another three years and then some before we clear through to the back and the borders to be created are created and the attention shifts from restoration work to maintenance work and improving what we’ve put in place. I can imagine it taking the best part of a decade, if not more; after all, when is a garden ever finished?

While I didn’t set off to recreate the old garden in the new one, this new garden has infused within it the character of the old. The large, generous borders with plants placed far too close together, the narrow grass paths, the feeling of seclusion and enclosure, the sense of barely controlled chaos. It’s hard to imagine now in a February picture, but I’ll return in mid-summer when the view looks out over the countless flowers of a work-in-progress.


  1. Morning Sunil. Well – what a question! A garden is never finished really, some things will die, somethings will be unsuccessful and a bit weedy and will just “have to go”, and some things will thrive and make the garden you love. I have changed my mind several times about my garden….. but it doesn’t really matter, it’s a hobby for life, isn’t it?


    1. It is a hobby for life, not one that you can just pick up and put down when you want to. Changing the garden plants after the borders and plants are all in is a lot of work and while the plants may change, the borders I have at the moment are pretty much set, I wouldn’t want to change them, mainly because of the work it would involve before the rest of the garden is even finished!


  2. What a beautiful transformation! I too have moved into a much larger garden with a blank canvas – with the added addition of clay – and I have never planted in clay before! I will follow your blog with interest as the warmer weather approaches!


    1. Hello Janet, my garden is on clay soil too and while I dreaded it at first, I’ve realised that only a clay soil (with lots of added organic matter) will let me have the rich, lush, voluptuous, dense, jungle-look that I love. Find the posts about creating the new borders to see how we broke up the clay and raised the borders to get the mix of planting conditions to suit a wide range of plants. Hope you enjoy!


  3. a garden is a process, isnt it? It is a place in your mind as well as in reality. I can visit my older gardens in my mind… a lovely place to go!


    1. Hello Jane, I guess it is. I’m trying to make the garden become the place in my mind. It’s more of recreating a feeling and atmosphere rather than “this plant goes here, have that plant there, this border is that shape” and so on.


  4. I’m amazed by how much you’ve accomplished in just three years. It will be exciting to see your new garden continue to develop.


    1. Hello Jean, your front driveway border is no mean feat itself! It’s fun watching the plants grow and establish. At the moment the borders are so new but they’ll soon get to the stage where they’ll feel as through they’ve always been there.


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