There is so little left of our old garden that it’s difficult to know where to start with this post. I’ve been trying to photograph the garden in its current state for a couple of days now, but it’s hard to capture anything meaningful when all we have is bare earth. So I thought I’d begin with a few photographs of the plants I managed to retain. Above is the fabulous poppy that I put in a couple of years ago, just after I’d completed the first round of culling the plants I didn’t want (namely lots and lots of Fuchsias – too many for a garden this size). It sits in a corner with some Anemones, a Perovskia and the surviving clump of Macleaya. Below is my neighbour’s rose, which forms part of the ‘borrowed’ view along the right hand side of our garden. I have plans to complement this with a rambler on my side, a little further along – possibly Veilchenblau.
This year the unknown rose has flowered more profusely than in previous years, and earlier too, I think, which has revealed a relationship with the Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ at the end of our garden that I had neither planned nor noticed before. Or perhaps it’s the Viburnum that’s out earlier than it should be. Either way I adore the strange pom-poms this Viburnum produces. They start off pale green, becoming whiter as they puff up until they look like unseasonal snowballs. On the downside, they are a magnet for aphids which appear in their thousands, turning the stems black with their tiny bodies. I squish them and flush them off with a fine spray of water and watch as the ants, who like to harvest their sweet excretions (urgh!), look bewildered at the aphids’ sudden disappearance. They scuttle up and down the stems, stopping every now and then to have astonished conferences with each other, their little antennae twitching in surprise. Ha!
The Viburnum is a young plant, and I’m not convinced that it’s in the right place, and I know I’ve made all the usual mistakes – too close to the fence, lopped off the wrong branches etc etc. But, the way the pom-poms echo the roses, both of which look particularly magical at dusk, really is lovely, so if I move it later this year, it won’t be going very far. And I will certainly wait until it is dormant having learned from my mistake with the Lilac which, sad to say, did not survive the move.
Below is the garden as it is today, waiting for me to whittle down my ridiculously long list of plants to a more reasonable (and affordable) length.
I also have to get lots of bags of rubbish off to the dump, lay the membrane for the path and dig in a little more organic matter. I hope to start planting by the end of next week. The bottom of the garden needs a total over-haul, but Joe and I will tackle that in the Autumn when I know whether or not the tree can go. The next photographs show how the garden was two and three years’ ago. What they don’t really show is how steep the slope was, and the degree to which this foreshortened the space. Although the garden is not a thing of beauty at the moment, I do think that it’s an improvement on the green slope we started with (somewhere I have an ariel shot taken from the roof by the surveyor, I’ll post it when I can find it). The plan is to have deep beds either side of the path that I’ve marked out with old sacks. I won’t get much height this year, but by next I hope that the bottom section will be screened by some of the planting. I want to create more of a sense of moving from one space to another, which in turn should make the garden feel longer. It already feels wider.
In this photograph you can just see the edge of what has now become the first level of the terracing. In the photograph below, the girls are sitting on the top of four vast concrete steps that dominated the first third of the garden. There was very little we could do about them apart from build out and over them. Doing this not only improved the garden but also increased the sense of space in our kitchen. It also brought home to me how much space I was losing to the slope of the garden, and what I could reclaim with terracing.
So, I think I’ll leave it there. Funny how exposing this feels. Having blathered on about plants and gardening, and what I’d like to do to the garden, for the last year, finally having to share the work in progress is almost as daunting as the work itself. But that’s the thing about gardening: it isn’t instant, no matter what those makeover shows may say.
Three last things:
i) Eagle-eyed readers should just be able to spot the Macleaya, the poppy and the lilac (now deceased), to the right of this pic.
ii) Thank you so much for all your lovely comments regarding my ridiculous accident – all were greatly appreciated and a couple made me laugh out loud.
iii) I passed the first lot of my exams! Hurrah!