Garden Progress

Making a Start on the Back Garden

In a week or so, stone to match the front face of all our retaining walls is being delivered. Before then we need to make some preparations in the back garden. We had a good few hours trampling around in the muddy soil on the 8th April and I’ve done a few hours this morning. So…what are the plans?

At present the small retaining wall holding back the upper part of the back garden from the lower part has a front face made of large stacked logs.All the other retaining walls, front and back (the house is built on a very steep slope) are stone.

Logs in front of retaining wall
Logs in front of retaining wall

 

 

Back Garden - lower lawn
Lower lawn

Roger has removed some of logs and laid a foundation for the new stone wall. Once this is built, the space between the new wall and the remaining logs will be back filled with concrete. Heavy rain turns our back garden into a beautiful (and disturbing, at the same time!) large water feature, as it flows from the field at the back, through the drainage already set in the garden and walls, down the steps, around the back door and into the drains built into the driveway. Which means, it’s probably a good idea to add drainage pipes within the concrete as a precaution against any random fountains appearing in the top lawn!

Whilst this was going on, I decided to tackle the overgrown corner at the top left.

Top left corner of back garden
Top left corner of back garden – before

After some extreme pruning, I found a fern tucked up at the back, waiting for the right time to unfurl and some purple shoots, which I now believe is a peony.

After tidy up
After the extreme tidy up

Two weeks later, the peony is thriving.

Peony
Peony – 2 weeks after discovering the shoots

The sunshine this morning called me back into the garden. Once the stone wall has been completed we plan to hire a turf cutter to remove the top layer of grass/weeds/moss. The grassed areas are very uneven, as well as sloped, and a mole moved in a few days after we did. It can never be a manicured lawn.

I put forward my idea of a wildflower meadow on the lower lawn, seeding it after removing the current grass. It would only need strimming down once a year and would attract lots of bees and butterflies. My proposal was accepted…and developed.

We have now decided (although all plans are open to discussion and change!) to sow wildflower meadow seeds on the upper area and sow a low growing wildflower lawn on the lower area, which will only need mowing about every 3 weeks. Anyway, watch this space to see how we get on.

But, getting back to the point, what did I do this morning?

I trimmed back the neglected bushes along the fence and weeded all around them. They all looked a bit sad, so I’m hoping, now they can breathe, they will be much happier.

Very sad Camelia
Very sad Camelia
Today's hard work
After this morning’s hard work

I’m finishing with pictures of leaves appearing on the lovely apple tree (I will learn how to look after it), the beautiful magnolia next door and a glass of well deserved wine, in the sunshine, admiring the progress so far. Cheers!

Apple Tree
Leaves appearing on apple tree
Magnolia - next door
Magnolia in the garden next door
Cheers!
Cheers!

 

Garden Progress

Front Garden Plan

It’s taken two muddy measures in the rain, lots of viewing through various windows and a few false starts getting it down on paper, but at last, I have a front garden plan (back garden plan is still in progress).

Front Garden Plan
Front garden Feb 17

This is how it is February 2017 (although I’ve added leaves to some of the shrubs that don’t have them at the moment!) and there’s probably some plants yet to wake up and show themselves.

I was hoping to get out there this weekend, do a bit of weeding and tidying, and to get up close to the plants I can’t identify. But, this morning was driving sleet and freezing cold. Instead, I’ve had a delightful few hours with some watercolour pencils, keeping warm in the conservatory listening to the rain and letting my imagination run wild.

A bit of research on the internet and I’ve come up with some preliminary planting plans.

On a lunchtime walk this week, I saw so many signs of spring in the front gardens I passed. Lots of snowdrops, primroses, crocuses, leaf buds and catkins. I’m lucky enough not to suffer from winter blues (I do suffer from motorbike adventures withdrawal though!!) but my spirits are still lifted and I can’t help smiling when I see spring is on the way. I made up my mind to get some of these things into my own garden.

So, the small bed at the bottom of the drive is to become a woodland garden; Snowdrops, Wood Anemone, Snakeshead Fritillary, Bluebells, Wild Honeysuckle and Wild Cyclamen. And yes, I have placed my order! With Naturescape, a wildflower specialist. Some of the plants will be in the green, so this won’t be their best year in my garden but I’m hoping the woodland garden will improve over the years. I might scatter some forget-me-not seeds in a few months, to help fill in the gaps.

 

I’ve noticed a few small birds flitting in and out of the hedge, which has a few berry remains and birds like berries! This has made me consider making the bed to the right at the bottom of the drive, a bird garden. I can hang some feeders in the tree and put up a bird table and a bird bath. As birds like the seeds from thistles and I’m a thistle lover too, I’m going to try and grow some here. It might not get quite enough sun, but I’ll see how it goes.

 

The main bed in the front garden is tiered and runs from the front of the house alongside the steps to the drive. It already has quite a few established shrubs, some very pretty white and purple heather, as well as lots of Crocosmia (which needs a good cutting down to allow the new shoots through). Next door successfully grow Lavender and Rosemary in their corresponding bed, two of my favourite perennial herbs, so I’m assuming that the front garden is as well drained as the back, despite the water that makes it’s way down from the fields at the back. I’ve already purchased two potted Lavender and one Rosemary. They’re waiting for their new home on the steps in the back garden. I’m gradually going to pick up pots of other herbs such as Mint, Sage, Thyme and Chives to fill any spaces.

 

As I don’t know what the hedge, two trees and most of the plants are, I will be posting close up photos with the hope that you can enlighten me. Any comments on my plans are also very welcome.

Garden Progress

Where Do I Start?

We moved in 6.5 weeks ago! All the boxes are unpacked and everything (almost) has a home. Christmas and New Year have come and gone, with all they entail. The never ending list of jobs to do around the house has been started but, what about the garden?

The Urban Wildlife Gardener
My Inspiration

 

Before we moved, I came across a book whilst browsing round the shop at Chatsworth House which I decided would be the inspiration for my vague ideas of creating a wildlife friendly garden – The Urban Wildlife Gardener by Emma Hardy.

I’ve glanced through and been excited by the brief glimpses of the pictures and few words I’ve actually had chance to read. Definitely a good place to start.

 

 

Emma recommends “Drawing a Plan”.

Top tier of front garden Feb 18
Old plants needing attention, new growth peeking through underneath

First, to plot what already exists in the garden, which will be a work in progress as new surprises pop up throughout the year.

Second, to note where the shady parts and sunny areas are.

Third, to plan what I want to keep and what I don’t as well as what I want to add. This will also be a work in progress, for many years I imagine!

I love plans and maps, so this appealed to me very much.

Putting on my new sparkly blue Hunters wellies (I’ve had a birthday since we’ve arrived too) I patiently waited for Roger to finish his first foray with the Karcher pressure washer (not a birthday present!) on the slimy stone paving around the conservatory. He  could then hold the end of a tape measure whilst I squelch around the garden making rough sketches of both the front and the back gardens.

Note: the paving has cleaned up beautifully!

I now have two slightly wrinkly (it was damp) A4 sheets with a barely recognisable map of the garden, all drawn out in biro. But give me a while, and hopefully I’ll have something that looks like a garden plan, inspiring me to get out there, tidy up, discover, complete a few projects and ultimately attract wildlife visitors.

img_3379.jpg
Pretty winter flowering plants with new shoots coming through and old plant debris to be cleared in the background
Tree at the bottom of the drive
Small bed to the side at the bottom of the drive
Back garden view
Sloping back garden complete with mole hills