The Yellow Green Light

Goodness, has it been a whole month already!? Time really does fly, especially in the summer months when the days are long, hopefully warm and all free time is spent outside gardening. I’ve noticed that the blog does tend to get a little neglected over the summer months when there’s so much to do outside. I should put a note on it saying, “In the Garden”, like I put on the front door for the postman. Over the last four weeks since I went to the Chelsea Flower Show, the garden has reached its flowering peak and it is breathtaking (even if I do say so myself). The borders are gradually going out of control as they tend to by mid-summer and work continues on the borders around the “Landing pad”, in line with the plan for garden projects this year.

Progress on the Landing Pad

There have been several other milestones in this time as well. The end of Fruit Avenue was extended – just by a few metres – to line up with the extended end of the middle border (the Crescent, where the Delphiniums are) to line up with the inherited ornamental cherry tree. This creates a strong visual line that marks out one long side of what will be a rectangular piece of grass (I have to leave some). The other long side is made up of the straight border edge of the Landing Pad, which has now been marked out with my favourite lawn edger.

Two more Elderberry Bushes for Cordial

We made a record number of bottles of Elderflower Cordial from a bountiful flower harvest. As we use Sambucus Nigra to make it, the cordial is a beautiful shade of pink, tinted by the deep purple colour in the flowers and stems. Sadly we gave a couple of bottles away and are now down to just one bottle ourselves. Thankfully, the new end of Fruit Avenue has another Sambucus Nigra and a plain-old green elderberry bush planted together (I know, we’ll probably regret it eventually). So I’m hoping this will eventually triple our output. We have found that the more cordial we make, the more is given away and so I’m not sure if simply adding more plants is the answer.

Another milestone is the marking out of the Landing Pad border edge by the shed. This means there is now a continuous “done” strip of garden that runs from the very back fence, past the shed area that was tidied last year, past the Landing Pad that was cleared this winter, along the spine of the Crescent border where the Delphiniums are planted in a row, round the corner border that was made the other year, past the patio with the annual nomadic pot collection, round the side border (along the side of the house) which was one of the earliest borders to be made and along to the front where the small piece of border under the office window was finally given some attention this Spring and through to the front fence with the pavement that contains the semi-circular border that was re-done (for the third time) to years ago. It’s the first time the very front and the very back are connected with a “made” garden, even though it thins in places. It marks a tipping point in how far we’ve come in making the garden out of the plain expanse of grass we inherited when we first moved in over four years ago.

A Picture for the Yellow Book?

Related to this is the visit from the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) County Organisers for Berkshire to evaluate the garden for potential listing in the NGS Yellow Book. Although the garden is several years from completion, I wanted to invite them over at an early stage to see if there were any fundamental issues with the garden that would prevent it from opening. Problems such as insufficient parking, difficult access and the garden being too small are all things that I can’t control but would stop the garden from being able to open. It turns out I didn’t need to worry about any of that; the first words the inspectors (for lack of a better word) said when they came around the side of the house and onto the patio at the back was a sharp intake of breath and a “wow” as they looked over the view of the garden and borders. We spent the next hour going around the garden and discussing the process of opening to the public with the NGS. Save for a few (major) caveats such as making the rockier parts of the patio safe and completing the remaining borders, they would happily welcome the garden as an addition to the 3700 gardens that already open for charity as part of the NGS.

Garden Supplies

A listing with the NGS is something that was on my mind when we were at our previous garden several years ago. Unfortunately it was far too small to open and there were no other gardens around that could let us open as a group. With this much larger garden, the dream of opening with the NGS is now a possibility. The NGS has given a green light for the garden to be eventually listed in their famous “Yellow Book”. It just needs hard graft over several years to turn the dream into a reality.

The work continues…

10 Comments


  1. Sunil, many congratulations to you both for all the hard work hat has you on the cusp of a listing in the Yellow Book. What an accomplishment! I am so excited for you. I thought the garden was beautiful when I visited in 2015, but it has progressed so much and definitely deserves a “wow”! Love your delphiniums and foxgloves. Can’t grow delphiniums here except as annuals. Well done!

    Reply

    1. Hello Lynn, we’re some years off being listed, but the foundation is sound. We just need to “complete” the borders. The delphiniums get many comments because of how we’ve planted them as a crescent, they seem to have a lot more stature and impact that way.

      Reply

  2. Stunning border, Sunil! Lovely mix of colours and so glad you are going to “go for” the yellow book….I did think about it myself for this garden, but it is rather small I think, so maybe not. There are quite a few gardens in the SW where the description starts….. ” when we moved in 20 years ago, the 4 acre site was just a field”…….. yada yada yada. I love smaller gardens, because I think you have to be a bit more imaginative with them, so I love yours – and I see you treated yourself to a Lutyens bench for the landing pad!! Here, I am going mad early mornings with the watering can because my clematis order arrived a month or so ago, and they all went straight in….. but now of course we are in the middle of a heatwave, so they are not established enough to leave alone yet. Last year I put in C. viticella “Kermesina” which got a bit crowded when the ants established a blackfly farm for a few weeks… but that problem is over and it is just full of colour (deep wine). The new ones are all budding up and I can’t wait to see them flower.

    Oh, and about the yellow book…. don’t wait too long to put it in, I can’t wait to visit!!

    Reply

    1. Thank you Mrs Mac, you’ll definitely know when we’re definitely listed. Our garden is on the smaller side as NGS gardens go, but it is packed with more borders and plants than some larger ones (I dare say). I hope your Clematis manage to establish, it’s not a good time of year to be planting out plants given the lack of rain for so long!

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  3. Congratulations on the NGS! Your Delphiniums are wonderful. You’ve really done a remarkable job on your garden since you moved in. What does elderberry cordial taste like? We have a wild black elderberry in the back, the fruits are smaller than those of the cultivated varieties.

    Reply

    1. Thank you, Jason. We make the cordial with the flowers, it’s really hard to describe the taste beyond saying it’s very refreshing and tastes like summer in a glass. You can make Elderberry wine but we never have enough berries towards the end of the season to make it as the birds get to them first.

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  4. That’s awesome! How exciting to have your garden be a part of the Open Gardens! It is beautiful, indeed!

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Tammy, it’s something that I’ve wanted for a long time and I’m glad I’ve finally got the “all-clear” to forge ahead. We’re a few years off yet but each new border planted and areas tidied brings us closer to Open Day.

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  5. Sunil, congratulations on getting the green light regarding inclusion in the NGS
    Your garden is breathtaking, I like that, I mean, its not really like blowing your own trumpet considering the part mother nature also plays.

    Reply

    1. Thank you, Alistair, that’s a real compliment considering how immaculate and amazing your garden looks, no matter what time of year.

      Reply

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