The story of a small town garden.

Posted By: Amanda Knox In: Amanda's Blog On: Comment: 0 Hit: 728
How does my garden grow... When we moved into our current house around 9 years ago, the garden was a completely blank page. The only things in it were a wonky whirligig washing line, a small patch of dry grass and a lot of bark chippings. Not a single plant, shrub or tree. This was probably quite a good thing for me, as I find it terribly difficult to "murder" perfectly healthy plants even if I don't like them. I usually try giving them dirty looks and being a bit neglectful, in the hope that they die of natural causes or leave of their own accord. So if the garden had been full of conifers and Red Hot Pokers, I'd have been in trouble. (no offence to both species) 

You should probably know that I am no expert gardener. I know a few plant names - always the common names - but often resort to "The pink frou-frou things" in descriptions. So everything I have done has been trial and error.

I started by clearing and turfing the whole space. I used turf, but I would use seed if I did it again as I have  learned that you get a better, stronger lawn this way, but I'm impatient and turf is instant.

Our house is classic three-story, Georgian terraced and the garden is rather long and thin, walled on all three sides, with a very high, somewhat over-bearing wall at the end. To soften this a bit, I added an old Gothic Arch door that I found in a reclamation yard, to try and add some interest and focus whilst breaking up the vastness of the end wall.

I then decided to break up the length of the garden by adding inset beds about a third of the way down. This was to create a small area with floral borders at the front of the garden, with a more free area at the back of the garden for the children to play in as they were still quite young when we moved here. 
I planted roses, Honeysuckle, espaliered apple and cherry trees, a scented Viburnum and a Mock Orange along the walls. We have one south facing and one north facing, so it was interesting to see what worked on which aspect.

I then needed some storage for tools and garden furniture so decided to have a shed built. I did look at off the peg sheds but found them a bit flimsy, so the long-suffering Mr P built me one to my own design. I found a couple of old windows at the reclamation yard and used a door that I found that had obviously been in the house at some stage. I bought lovely zinc guttering in France and corrugated iron for the roof.

I then planted a "New Dawn" rose next to it, added lights and an old dolly tub as a water butt and painted the whole thing white.

Getting on with the planting, I used an idea I had seen on a trip to The Hampton Court Flower Show and planted and trained a Tayberry around the old door on the end wall. This made it look more realistic; it gives pretty blossom in Spring and delicious berries in summer.

As I said earlier, planting has been by trial and error. I wish I could say that I planned the whole thing on paper first and colour matched my planting scheme, but the truth is, I have just bought what has taken my eye at the market, plant sale or garden centre. I don't take too much notice of what should be planted where, because in my experience, things that you think will do well in a certain spot, often don't, and things that you think might not thrive, often do. What has proved successful have been the roses; Heritage, Gertrude Jekyll, Albertine, New Dawn, Ferdinand Pichard, Flora and my two absolute favourites - Pierre de Ronsard and Abraham Darby.

Rosa Abraham Darby

I've also done well with foxgloves, Hydrangea "Limelight", alchemilla mollis, Scabious and dahlias...lots of dahlias. I like them so much that I made a little cutting patch of them opposite the shed, where they nicely hide the compost enclosure with they are fully grown. The queen of all the Dahlias for me is Cafe Au Lait; the size of a tea plate and a soft, creamy-pink colour. They are such hard workers and I pick them for the house nearly the whole summer.

Dahlias picked from the garden.

So, that's it for now. I'm pretty sure the garden will keep evolving. I've got a space for one more rose and I'm starting to dream of a garden studio for Mr P to paint in. We'll keep you updated...


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