End of Month View: December and the turning of the year

Hello! I hope you’ve had a very lovely Christmas. Ours was ‘different’. I managed to fracture my right wrist on 22nd December (ice-skating) which pulled me up short and I’ve spent the days since mostly in a fog of painkillers, not being able to do very much at all. The fracture is a tricky one and I have to try to keep my arm raised and as still as possible (but keep wiggling my fingers) if I’m to avoid an operation. Various festive plans were abandoned and I had to resign myself to letting go (which is not easy if you have slight control and perfectionist tendencies!). Then my poor mother-in-law, who was staying with us, succumbed to a nasty flu-like virus on Boxing Day and retired to bed. She’s still not properly better but is recovering. David has coped magnificently with all the catering and general looking-after and the kids have been great (wrapping each other’s gifts, clearing-up, discovering the bus…) and have – I hope – enjoyed an extremely slow, laid-back time. I’ve watched films, read books, eaten too much chocolate and tried not to be grumpy because I’m so incapacitated. It’s certainly made me appreciate my usual independence and I can’t wait to get back to full, two-handed mode!

Anyway, all that explains my absence here – I haven’t been able to get out and cut material for Monday vases, I can’t take photos with my camera and it takes me an age to type with my left hand! Today, though, dawned all bright and sunny and full of that new-year, new beginning, shininess. It filled me with positivity and my lovely daughter agreed to wander in the garden with me and photograph things I pointed at (and a few I didn’t). So, all credit goes to Harriet for the photos and to my kind husband for helping me wash, dress and butter my toast, for fetching and carrying and for ignoring my bad-tempered frustration over the past 10 days. I have resolved to try to make the most of this enforced rest by reading, dreaming and creating and coming up with schemes and plans for the garden and life in general. The days are already getting longer and it won’t be long before the first snowdrops and daffodils appear.

Thank you for joining me here in this little part of the www over the past year, for your comments and likes. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I hope 2019 brings you all you hope for and more. Happy New Year.

PS Thank you to Helen, The Patient Gardener, for hosting gardening bloggers’ End of Month Views.

End of Month View: November

Can it really be December tomorrow?! It doesn’t seem that long that I was writing about our autumnal garden at the end of October and now we’re careering headlong into winter. Not that it feels like it out there today – the temperature is in double figures and there’s a definite warmth to the sunshine which is so welcome after yesterday’s atrocious wind and rain. The rain was incredibly heavy but it topped up the pond and quenched the soil. Last weekend, we planted a little Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ that has been hanging on in a too-small pot for about a year(..!) and the soil that came out of the hole was incredibly dry.

Planting this little shrub in the gloaming on Sunday afternoon felt like a mini-achievement as I’ve been glancing at it guiltily for months and months. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve also managed to plant all the bulbs (yay) – 50 Narcissus ‘February Gold’ have been slotted into the lawn outside the window where my desk is (to cheer me up in late winter) and 50 Narcissus ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ have been tucked in among the perennials and grasses on one of the lower terraces. My birthday tulips (30 each of ‘Veronique Sanson’ and ‘Ronaldo’) have been combined in the two big pots at the front of the house for a glorious display of colour in May. There are still some anemone and ranunculus corms to plant (maybe tomorrow morning if I get a move on).

The raspberry canes (in front of the greenhouse) are almost bare now but there are a few pale raspberries hanging on. I usually leave the canes until February then cut them down to the base but have read recently that it’s ok to cut them back now.
There are still quite a few small apples hanging on for grim life in the higher branches of the apple tree. I think it indicates that this variety is a good keeper but these fruits will be for the birds to enjoy rather than us.
The grasses on the lower terrace are at their best right now – bleached and eye-catching, they weave the garden together and add real interest (to my eye). I love how the winter sun catches them.
The rickety arch over the path is being held up by a climbing rose on one side and a jasmine on the other.
The topped-up pond.
Loads of forget-me-not seedlings.
I must move this aeonium to a more sheltered spot.
Marigolds ‘Sunset Buff’ still going strong, bare twiggy sweet pea supports and grasses.
More forget-me-not seedlings and cyclamen leaves (and assorted weeds).
Gooseberry branches – soon all the leaves will drop to leave the spiny bare stems.
I pulled out a load of nasturtiums the other week and found this lovely Epimedium (can’t remember the species, must check the label!) which I planted in spring. It’s survived happily under its leafy blanket.
I love the colour of fading hardy geranium leaves.
More marigold ‘Sunset Buff’.
A big pot of tulips tucked up for the winter.

 

So, there’s our garden at the end of November. As the festive season looms and the days become shorter, getting out there to see what’s going on is harder but always rewarding, even in the depths of winter. I hope you’ll come. back next month to see how the garden is looking at the end of the year. Thanks for visiting and bye for now.

[I’m joining in, as usual, with Helen, The Patient Gardener. Thank you to her for hosting the End of Month Views.]

 

 

End of Month View: October

The garden has had to amuse itself recently as we haven’t had time to do much out there for a couple of months. David and I cleared leaves and pine cones and needles off the paths and lawns a couple of weeks ago and did a partial weed but there are leaves and weeds everywhere again, of course. Our neighbour’s large copper beech showers the back garden constantly at this time of year. Having not managed to post an end of month view of the garden since July, you will be able see a difference, though. Plants get on and do their thing regardless of intervention from pesky gardeners.

David cut the wild patch at the bottom of the garden a month or so ago and cleared that off (hence the builder’s bags dotted about the place). The trampoline is still there but it’s days are numbered; I know I’ve said that before but they really are! Our younger son spent a day carrying the massive wood pile of huge logs that was by the pond – you can see the dead patch of grass to the left of it – up to the side of the house (we did pay him!) and David built a wood store over the weekend to house it while it seasons. There is
far more wood than room in the store, though, so he may need to build another one.

The grasses have come into their own, adding structure and a lovely airy movement around the mini orchard. We did shove these in the ground in a hurry, though, and I can now clearly see where they need spacing out. I hope you can see why we planted them, though – I love the layered see-through effect you get when you’re at eye level with them. When we’ve sorted out the interplanting and spaced them out more, they’ll look even more effective.

There is still plenty to do in the garden before winter. I bought a load of daffodil bulbs to plant in the lower garden from the Crocus sale, which arrived on Monday – these need getting in the ground as soon as possible as it’s a bit late for daffs – and my parents gave me some beautiful tulip bulbs for my birthday in August, yet to be planted. I’m still deciding where to plant them for the best view of them next spring. There’s no rush with tulips, thankfully, as they’re best planted when it’s colder in November. Oh, yes. It’s November tomorrow..!

I’m joining Helen, The Patient Gardener, who kindly hosts garden bloggers’ End of Month Views. Do visit her blog to see the lovely autumn colour in her garden.

End of Month View: dry July

Aeonium and geranium – both loving the hot dry conditions.

 

Going on holiday at this time of year is always a risk when you’re a gardener. Being away during what turned out to be the two hottest weeks for years is even riskier but that’s what we did. I tried not to worry about the garden while we were away!

I had deliberately planted fewer annuals (a scattering of marigolds, cornflowers and sweetpeas) and just six tomato plants outdoors (not in the greenhouse) because I knew we’d be away for just over two weeks and the garden needed to be as low-maintenance as possible this summer. My dad very kindly came every few days to water plants in pots, tomatoes and the new rose and perennials we’d planted this year, so I knew they’d survive, but everything else had to take its chances. If it hadn’t been for the fierce storm a few days before our return, I think the garden would be looking better than it does but there’s been a fair bit of collapse. Not surprising, really. No rain for weeks and weeks, so the plants were already parched and then they were thoroughly roughed up by the wind and heavy rain. Poor things. The grasses, especially the Stipa tenuissima, are looking particularly bedraggled, and the monster tomatoes, giant fennel and some of the larger Verbena bonariensis are listing drunkenly. Nothing that several hours with a pair of secateurs, a ball of twine and some stakes can’t sort out, though 🙂 And although it wasn’t enough to help the poor lawns, the rain we did have was incredibly welcome. It’s back to watering this week, though, as the temperatures have soared again and there is no rain forecast for the foreseeable.

The purple is Verbena rigida, planted a couple of years ago – I’m surprised it’s come back so well this year.
Apples on the old tree are ripening but quite a few have dropped off (and many clusters still need thinning).
The little patch of flowers around three of the tomato plants that were well watered while we were away is looking good, if a little higgledy piggledy.
The raspberries are now taller than me and laden with fruit. I see jam-making in my future…
Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ coping with the drought but some of the other perennials here are looking a bit tired. It does get hot, hot, hot by the wall, though.
Acanthus mollis – a super drought-tolerant plant.
The lavender hedges are definitely past their best and the poor front lawn is suffering in the dry heat.
Grasses, Verbena bonariensis and small olive tree – all hanging in there. The roses here are very sad, though.
Two of the five little agapanthus plants I planted here last year are flowering (white). The lavender on the right seems to be faring better than the hedges on the terrace above.
These poppies are self-sown and have been flowering for about a month! You can see the watered, newly planted, experimental mixed bed behind still looking colourful.
Experimental mixed bed from the side – I love the way it stands out against the wall.
Salvia (can’t remember which one, sorry) – you can never have too many in my opinion!
Discovery apples (on tree planted last spring) ripening. I’m so chuffed that these are doing well (so far).
Oh no! Look at the poor pond! We must run a hosepipe from the well down here at the weekend and top it up. Poor newts…
Dastardly Crocosmia (plain, thuggish orange form) STILL coming up at the bottom of the garden. Its days are numbered.
Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ doing their thing – upright, swaying, gorgeous.
Collapsed Stipa tenuissima. They remind me a bit of my hair on holiday – the sun and sea crazy look.
Rudbeckia – I think this is ‘Berlin’.
Wind-bashed lavender and dried-up lawn.
View from the balcony to the front left – dry, dry, dry. You can really see the effects of the wind on the lavender.
View from the balcony to the front right. More dryness, logs still piled up next to the dry pond, trampoline still there…
Averting our eyes from the garden, here’s the view up the valley towards the lighthouse (because the light was so lovely and I needed cheering up).

 

So, that’s the garden at the end of July. I spent a couple of hours out there this evening dead-heading, staking and tying up, pulling out loads of Linaria purpurea to stop it seeding even further (there is TOO much) and generally saying hello to everything. Going on holiday is wonderful but it’s lovely to be back. Thank you to Helen, The Patient Gardener, who hosts the EOMVs.

Hope all’s good with you. Here’s to August!

 

 

 

End of Month View – June (belatedly)

Hello! I hope you’re well. I was away in Cornwall last weekend at the turn of the month and straight into the fray on my return but here I am, on Friday afternoon, with a little window of opportunity for writing. Here goes…

The major excitement in the garden in June was having tree work carried out: removing a monstrous sycamore and reducing the crown of a yew (both were blocking the view of the sea from the house) and taking out a massive branch from our neighbour’s enormous copper beech which is too close to our house in the back garden. Removing this branch has made a huge difference to the light levels in the garden and my son’s bedroom. The tree surgeons will return in winter when the leaves are off the beech to thin it out and reduce the canopy.

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Before

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After

Elsewhere, it’s been a case of dead-heading and weeding when we have the time and watering, watering, watering. I was scrolling through my photos thinking they look rather bleached but that’s because everything is bleached. The grass is bleached, especially, and even the rose petals. It’s been so incredibly hot and sunny with the occasional overcast but still hot day. We have had a couple of frets, when mist rolls off the sea and the view disappears into an eerie fog for an hour or so and that has brought a little moisture but we have had no rain. At all. We’re giving everything that needs it – pots, newly planted stuff, young trees – a thorough watering every few days and this takes a couple of hours to do properly. It’s a great time to inspect the garden and notice what’s going on and the evenings have been so incredibly balmy that it’s been a pleasure to stand there, watering cans in hand, just taking it all in. Anyway, without further ado, here’s how the garden looks now (in early July; I haven’t tidied up any builders sacks, trugs, etc, for photographing purposes – you’ll have to take us as you find us!):

The raspberries are almost obscuring the greenhouse. They’re autumn-fruiting but we’ve had a few ripe ones already with loads to come.

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It’s only from the balcony that you can see how the lavender has been bashed about by the wind – it doesn’t look like this at ground level.
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Log pile from the tree work! All needs splitting and stacking. (And, yes, the trampoline is still here…)

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I love how the lavender is peeking above the wall now.

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The rose and jasmine on the rickety arch are starting to bloom. One is scented, the other is not.

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Apples on one of our new trees!
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Red gooseberries – we planted this bush and a green one last year. The birds ate all but 5 of the green gooseberries and about half of these…
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The path David built last month. Still to sort out the edge and plant up the bare soil…

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The wildflower area is looking a little bedraggled – we don’t water it.
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Yellow verbascums in the mini orchard.

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Look at the pond level! I’ve not seen it so low. (I am ignoring that pile of logs.)

Right, that’s it – window closed. Must get on. Sorry to dash.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

End of Month View: May (gardening in action)

It’s been half term here this week and David and I have taken time off to catch up with each other and the garden and to be around for the revising teenagers. This has involved much chivvying, chatting, encouraging, shopping for mountains of food, cooking, clearing up after they’ve individually made various lunches (why they can’t cook together and make one lot of mess, I don’t know!), making copious pots of tea, listening to grumbles and exam anxiety and generally supporting from a short distance, i.e., the garden.

May is the month when it all really kicks off out there and it’s impossible to keep on top of the weeds, the planting, the pruning, the clearing. We’ve made a couple of trips to the tip, the car bulging with builders sacks full of perennial weeds and garden material too bulky to compost. We’re waging a war against bindweed and brambles here and, no, we don’t have the time or energy to clear whole beds, dig out every last scrap of root out and start again, so we constantly chip away. In between the ‘trying to get on top of it’, David has also been laying a new path to connect the bottom of some steps to the end of another path where there was a gap, using up bits of old paving. Crazy paving is hot. You read it here first.

Floriferous highlights for May that have been and gone were the apple blossom (delicious) and lilac (lovely but fleeting). My absolute favourite part of the garden for the past couple of weeks has been where the new fruit trees were planted last spring (first photo and below). These are underplanted with a grass and wildflower mix, plus many self-seeders, and to my eye it is perfection. Wild with a little cultivation. I recently described our garden as organised chaos – it’s definitely more chaos than organised at the moment but I love the abundance and tapestry that nature creates on its own. Whenever I’ve needed a break from my desk or fraught teenagers, I’ve wandered down to this spot with a mug of something and stood and gazed at it for a while. Five minutes is all I need to recalibrate.

Anyway, here’s how the back garden is looking:

The raspberries in front of the greenhouse are shooting up and out and along in all directions!
Open shed door, piles of stuff, this is how our garden looks most of the time.
Plants in trays waiting patiently to be planted. I have all the guilt associated with this scene!
Gladioli (I think they’re ‘byzantinus’) – we didn’t plant these, they appeared gradually from a load of topsoil we bought to fill these beds, but I’m very happy they’re there.
Gladioli close-up
I’m not convinced about this colour combo but I love both the Euphorbia oblongata and Nigella individually.
Rose ‘The Generous Gardener’, finally planted by the back wall and now covered with 18 (yes 18!) fat flower buds.

And here’s the front, sea-facing, terraced part of the garden (complete with gardener):

From the balcony looking down, front left.
Looking down, front right. (The trampoline is slowly being dismantled…) You can see the strip of hedge we planted last year on the boundary on the far right starting to bulk out.
Yellow flag iris in the pond (this was taken last week, by yesterday they’d gone over).

The bees, butterflies and other insects are abundant and I can spend a large amount of time watching all the goings on. We’ve more seeds to sow and plants to plant, all wildlife-friendly. This garden may be rather a jumble but it’s full of life. So, that’s our garden at the end of May (beginning of June!). I’m joining Helen at The Patient Gardener where you’ll find her EOMV and those of other garden bloggers.

Right, I’m off to the garden centre (I have a voucher burning a hole in my pocket) – wishing you a lovely weekend. More anon.

End of Month View: Enchanted April

April began with a chilly and rainy Easter, saw high-20-degree summer temperatures mid-month with glorious, long sunny days and is ending as it began – chilly and rainy (boo). The dramatic rise in temperatures and sunshine that we had for a week or so boosted flowering (and the weeds) and it feels as though everything has rushed to catch up, flowering-wise. There are bluebells at the bottom of the garden and some of my long-awaited, much-loved tulips are already past their best with others just reaching their peak. Today’s heavy rain with more forecast for tomorrow may well finish them off so I’ve picked a load to bring inside to enjoy a little longer.

As well as tulips, the highlight of April has been the forget-me-nots. There were none in this garden when we moved here but my mother-in-law brought a few plants with her from her garden a couple of years ago and they have made themselves very much at home. I absolutely love them – the tiny blue flowers with yellow centres, their delicate but robust nature and the fact that they spread about the place without any help. The trick is to recognise their leaves and not weed them out (unless you want to, of course!).

All our Narcissi have either finished flowering or have been munched by slugs and snails. The ones in the front (sea-facing) garden fared much better this year than those in the back garden where we are overrun by garden molluscs. Sadly, the wonderful display of N. ‘Actaea’ we had last year wasn’t to be repeated, despite planting more bulbs in the winter. The slimy critters didn’t even wait for many of them to flower, they munched the flower buds right off! Grrr. We have frogs and toads (I disturbed a huge one yesterday when I was weeding), and there are definitely thrushes and blackbirds around, but they don’t seem to be eating enough to control the levels. So, the time has come to unleash the nematodes. With one of the best names ever, Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita, is a parasite that kills slugs and snails without harming other creatures. You mix them with water, sprinkle onto your soil and let them get to work.

Elsewhere, the pear, cherry and greengage blossom is starting to go over but the apple blossom (my favourite) is starting to appear. There are deep-pink buds dotted all over the trees, their petals tightly bound together like miniature pink sprouts. I love how these unfurl, releasing their delicate scent and clothing the trees in beautiful flowers – expect lots of photos!

All the grasses we’ve planted in the sea-facing side of the garden over the last couple of years – Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, Miscanthus ‘can’t remember’ and Stipa tennuisima – are all going great guns and bulking up, adding interest, structure and rhythm to the planting. I’m really chuffed with how well the tulips work with the grasses and I’m looking forward to seeing how the perennials here (Linaria, Campanula, Scabious, Eryngium etc) do this year. I intend to plant some more brightly coloured perennials to create a longer-lasting tapestry of colour, form and texture. There will also be annuals – sweet peas and cosmos at least – to add to the mix.

Soon the lilac tree will put on its fleeting, beautiful and deliciously-scented show and there will be aquilegias dotted all over the place – these are already sending up their flower buds – and I’ll be pleased I didn’t dig them out. Nigella foliage is everywhere (but it’s easy to pull it out where it’s not wanted), with flower buds starting to appear, and tidy mounds of geraniums are getting ready to flower. And, if I get a move on with the Phasmarhabditis, hopefully more alliums will make it through to flowering this year.

Here are rather a lot of photos of the garden at the end of April. You might like to make a cup of tea…

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Tulips. I’m making notes of ones to plant for next year – I’d like to add some dusky pinky ones like ‘Belle Epoque’ and ‘Apricot Impression’ for a start…

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David has been planting Luzula nivea (Snowy woodrush) – a lovely grass for dry shade – to the right of the path. The lilac (top right of pic) is covered with buds.
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A row of Euphorbia oblongata (to the mid-right of the pic), Nigella, daffs that flowered and were promptly shredded by slugs and snails, rhubarb growing well and weeds…
New growth on the lavender hedge (plus rogue strappy leaves which could be gladioli or crocosmia).
The steps after the Erigeron was cut back quite  hard.
Looking down, to the left of the steps, with weed clearing and mulching the young fruit trees in progress.
Baby gooseberries!
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Looking down to the right of the steps (with trashed trampoline – the winter storms wrecked it; its days are numbered).
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Himalayan birch whip with fresh leaves and a flower.
Bluebells and builder’s sack (full of perennial weeds).
Cassie the wonder-dog keeping an eye on David who had treats!
Iris in the bluebells

New flag iris leaves in the pond

Erigeron recovering after its short back and sides last week.

 

EOMV (End of Month View) is hosted by Helen, The Patient Gardener.

February 2018: a delayed end of month view

Phew! What a week: busy work-wise, children off school, will it/won’t it snow, freezing rain, howling Siberian winds… It’s fair to say that the infrastructure of the UK doesn’t handle snow well. All trains were cancelled in this corner of east Kent on Thursday and Friday (they’re still not running today) and the roads have been treacherous. Our part of the coast was spared the worst of the weather although we did have scary freezing rain yesterday which turned all paths and roads into ice rinks, followed by just enough snow to sledge on. As the light was fading yesterday, we dug out the two sledges we’ve been waiting for years to use and headed to the lane at the bottom of the garden which has just the right degree of slope to make a perfect (and very fast) run. Once we’d got the steering right…

Anyway, before we did that, I took a few photos of the garden so I could join in with Helen’s End of Month View. Not much has happened since the end of January apart from bulbs shooting and buds swelling on the trees. We did get round to pruning the new apples and pears but not the old trees in the back garden which badly need doing. I have plans for seed sowing but haven’t done any yet. Those flowers that were out (snowdrops, hellebores, bergenias and the first daffs) keeled over in the icy blast this week and I haven’t been out to see what damage, if any, yesterday’s snow did. It’s fast melting and almost all gone now.

It’s the time of year when I dust off my winter lethargy and gear up for action – by the end of March I hope to have more to report!

Thank you for your comments on my previous post. I always hesitate and dither before posting such a self-indulgent musing, so I was relieved that it did strike a chord with some. Now I’ve got that off my chest, it’ll be the usual plants, gardens, frustrating teenagers combo for a while. I hope you’re safe, warm and dry where you are (or, if you’ve been sweltering down under, that it’s cooling down!). Have a good weekend.

Work in Progress (a garden review) January 2018

Whenever my mojo wanders off, whether it’s for blogging or gardening or whatever, I find it’s best to step away from it for a while, then come up with a plan. Being organised – or shall we call it ‘being pragmatic’ – is key; it’s important to prioritise. I know I cannot do it all and rather than worrying about everything that needs to be done and isn’t, it’s better to focus on progress. And the great thing about the garden is that there will be progress, whether I’m involved or not. Plants generally get on with the business of growing without much help – they will do their thing and bring much joy in the process.

Following a garden month by month is extremely useful – it acts as an aide memoire and a boot up the bottom – so I’m setting myself the challenge this year. I’ve often thought of joining in with the Helen, The Patient Gardener’s, End of Month View or Sarah’s Through the Garden Gate but I haven’t managed to get my act together to take photos and review the garden at the right time. Until now…

When I went outside earlier to take the photos, I did hesitate. I saw all the full rubble sacks  dotted around the place, all the jobs that need doing, the plants that need cutting back and all the weeds. I usually crop my garden photos to spare you the mess but I’ve decided this should be an honest look at our garden – warts (weeds) and all. On the plus side, there is new growth everywhere. It’s still cold but you can sense the earth turning – beautiful fresh spears of spring bulbs are shooting up, buds are starting to swell and the birds are definitely gearing up for spring.

I don’t think I’ve shown you round the whole garden in one go before. Not that it’s huge – it’s approximately one-third of an acre, with about half in front of the house and half behind (the house sits in the middle). Come with me and let’s see what’s going on…

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This is the view from the back door – the beds need clearing to make way for the spring flowers that are shooting up. (That thing covered in green tarpaulin next to the shed is the outdoor table-tennis table.)

To the left of the steps looking up the slope is a long slim bed of a line of Miscanthus and small rose bushes edged by box plants – we planted the box as c.20cm plug plants three years ago this spring and they’re filling out nicely. The rose bushes aren’t very happy though; this whole area is overshadowed by a huge copper beech in our neighbour’s garden and it just doesn’t get enough sunshine in the summer when the tree is in full leaf. We plan to dig them up and move them, and replace them with something that won’t mind the lack of sun. There are loads of Narcissus Actaea planted along here and the sight and scent of them in a couple of months will be, well, fantastic.

At the top of the path is a terraced bed (photo above bottom right) with Acanthus mollis, Bergenia, evergreen Euphorbia, geraniums and osteospermum. And weeds. There are lots of Muscari, too, which edge the wall with their beautiful blue flowers in spring.

Looking down from the path onto the back garden, the lawn looks like it needs a little tlc. Our neighbour’s holm oaks shed their plastic-coated leaves onto this part of the garden and they’re a pain. The beds and lawn underneath don’t like it. The area by the greenhouse needs a good sort out and the raspberry canes should be cut back this month. If you look very closely at the photo on the bottom right above, you’ll see a few raspberries still clinging on! I obviously missed them when I did my final pick last autumn. The above bottom left photo shows the pear (left) and greengage (right) which were already here when we moved in. The greenhouse desperately needs renovating (it leaks and wooden frames are rotting) – that’s on our list of jobs for this year…

Walking round to the front (the sea-facing) garden, this rosemary is romping away. I stuck it in here a couple of years ago because it wasn’t thriving where it was. Top right you can see how hardy and determined Californian poppies can be – these have seeded themselves into the paving cracks. It all adds to the general relaxed feeling of our garden! Above bottom left is one of our lavender hedges (there’s another one in the left-hand photo). It doesn’t look much now but it should look spectacular in the summer when it will be buzzing with drunk bees. I’ve written about it before here.

Down the steps (the Erigeron is having a short rest from flowering) to the tatty looking veg patch on the right (bottom left photo). We had potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes and squash growing here last summer (you can see a few remnants that haven’t been cleared!) and there are leeks and purple sprouting broccoli still growing, although the pigeons have helped themselves to the broccoli. Grr. To the left (above bottom right photo; how confusing!) is our experimental perennial/annual bed. It looks a bit of a mess now but it will have daffs and tulips popping up soon, in among the grasses (Stipa tenuissima and Calamagrostis). I’m thinking of giving the Stipa a haircut this year, like they do in Le Jardin Secret in Marrakech (which I spotted on Paradise Gardens the other week). I have high aspirations 🙂  There’s also a small olive tree this end and a plum tree the other end, plus a wigwam (which you can just see) that was covered with sweet peas last year.

On the next level down (the garden is terraced) is the pond area on one side of the steps and the mini-orchard on the other. The apple and pear trees that we planted here last year need to be pruned about now. Another job for the weekend.

Almost at the bottom of the garden and looking back up you get a glimpse of the lower terracing. That’s a cherry tree re-homed from a friend’s garden in Twickenham. David drove it home in the car last year – he had to severely chop it top and bottom to get it in the car; I’m amazed it survived. It could do with reshaping but we’ll let it recover first. You can see the bright-green stems of dreaded crocosmia starting to grow again around the base of the tree which covered this whole area – we’re slowly digging it all out.

We did a huge amount of clearing and wall rebuilding down here last year and  we planted 15 white Himalayan birch whips (Betula utilis Jaquemontii) (you may be able to make out their slender, stick-like proportions among the Miscanthus). The plan is that they will eventually form a drift of white-barked gorgeousness, interspersed with grasses and pops of colour throughout the year from various bulbs and perennials. The photo above bottom right shows the wildflower area that was cut back at the end of the year. This has primroses and narcissus dotted throughout (no flowers yet) and will be full of wildflowers in summer.

Finally, a couple of close-ups of plants that obviously don’t realise that it’s January and they should be taking a break – marguerites and osteospermums, take a bow:

So, that’s the garden at acoastalplot at the end of January/start of February.

I hope all’s well with you and the first month of the year has been good to you. More soon…

Oh, yes! The snowdrops are coming… Hurrah!