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Saturday, 28 March 2009

Introducing the front garden

OK, it looks like a bit of a mess, but that's kind of the idea. This isn't the best angle to view it from, but I had to step back quite a bit to get the full height of the palm tree in.
The tree, along with the bigger yellowy-green euonymus to the left, were the only plants that we inherited from the previous owners - the rest of the front garden was entirely paved over. One of the first jobs I did after moving in was to pull up most of the slabs - luckily they hadn't been put down particularly securely so the main hassle was just wheeling them down the hill, then back up the other side to dump them in the skip behind the house. We only had the skip for a weekend, though, so the few leftover slabs got piled up along the left side, making the raised bank. It's still not entirely stable and the soil still tends to vanish after a while, but I'm hoping that all the shrubs I planted there will eventually hold it all in place with their roots.

Under the tree, there are a few tulips and perennial cornflowers, plus a little conifer that we had in the garden in Brighton, making a nice bit of colour before the actual flowers come out. This whole front flowerbed area is infested with Lords & Ladies (as well as dandelions, willowherb and other persistent weeds) so I'm hoping to get some ground-cover down this year to keep that under control.

The left-hand beds mainly have lavender in, with some shrubs (including the pieris, pictured, one of the only flowers out at the moment) at the back and some heathers at the front, all of which went in last year and seem to be doing pretty well. By the window there are a lot of lilies and liatris which are just starting to sprout, as well as some mysterious other bulbs that only seem to produce long, tubular leaves. I planted all of these last year, and have completely forgotten what the Mystery Bulbs are supposed to be - I vaguely recall they may have been irises, but without any flowers to show for it, it's possible that they're just onions or something.

Along the right is what will, eventually, be a hedge; at the moment it's just a bunch of sticks. Starting at the house and moving forwards, it goes Dogwood-Hawthorn-Spindle-Hawthorn-Honeysuckle-Hawthorn-Guelder Rose-Hawthorn-Hazel-Hawthorn-Blackthorn-Potentilla Fruticosa. Entirely unimpressive at the moment but should be better once they get proper leaves on.

The patchy grassy bit in the middle is actually the world's smallest meadow, which is sown with various wildflower seeds as well as all the birdseed that's fallen off the bird table and been missed by the squirrels. Should look better once they all start growing a bit.

Introducing the back garden

Again, it would have been much better if I'd thought to start this blog when the garden was still just a boring mass of paving slabs, but tis too late now.

Rather unfortunately, the greenery-hating previous owners had done a proper job with the back garden paving, so pulling up the slabs was not an option. We only managed to take one of them up (just below the stone wall on the left, containing silver birch sapling) and that took an entire day with a road-breaking drill, so doing the whole garden was not an option. Instead, I bought a load of limestone blocks and built some raised beds, which doesn't look too bad.

Along the fence to the left are a few wild roses (dogrose and sweetbriar) that should start scrambling through the trellis once it gets a bit warmer; there are also a couple of winter jasmine plants, a honeysuckle, a (very small) star jasmine), a clematis (Multi Blue) and a climbing hydrangea. Hopefully they won't all die again when the winter comes round - the back garden is on the north side and parts of it are completely in the shade for much of the year.

On the back wall I've put a few raspberry plants in, but the eventual aim is to have a Passionflower vine growing over that trellis. The big plant you can see on the back wall is a Buddleia, which had seeded itself in a tiny paving crack - it's nice for the butterflies so I've kept it. The box on the wall is a ladybird house (so far no ladybirds though).

In the darkest, shadiest corner of the garden there's a mini log garden, as recommended by my "Attracting Wildlife To Your Garden" book. The idea is to let some logs rot away in a corner, to provide a home for beetles and the like. The only difficulty here is keeping the less-wild wildlife away from the sticks, as a certain brown predator loves to steal them to play with...