Well maybe that’s going a bit far but a bit of a garden revamp has certainly reignited my interest in my own back garden. This time last year both Wellyman and I were excited about the prospect of moving house but when we decided to put that on hold I pretty much lost my gardening mojo. I had entered into gardening limbo. As the summer progressed it got worse. I was still growing for work but inside my heart wasn’t in it. I spent a lot of time wracking my brain as to how to marry the situation with my need for a change. I didn’t want to spend much money and didn’t have the inclination to rip out everything I had planted over the last 8 years and start again. The idea of creating a cutting garden had been at the back of my mind for a while. A space packed with shrubs, bulbs and herbaceous perennials which would supplement the annuals from the cut flower patch. A place where everything could be picked for a vase. I’d always planned for it to be in another garden, somewhere a little bigger, where I could start from scratch. I hummed and hawed over whether it would be worth trying it here and if I actually had the space to do it. After 7 years of being in place the raised beds needed a few repairs anyway and the pond no longer worked where it was. So a few weekends ago we bit the bullet. Wellyman cleverly rejigged the raised bed configuration. By removing a few oak boards we incorporated a path into the beds and reusing the boards meant we didn’t need to spend any money.
The next job was to move the pond. I say pond, it’s more of a puddle to be honest, one of those preformed liners. It’s initial spot was fine, but then the greenhouse came along which made access to the pond tricky. Cleaning out pond weed required Wellyman (his longer arms were needed) to perform a yoga-like balancing act. Being tucked away meant not only did it not get cleaned as frequently as it should have but we also didn’t get to appreciate it. We did consider removing it completely, to put the space to better use, but we thought we’d at least try it out in its new location and then decide. Wellyman decanted two-thirds of the water into trugs and we gingerly lifted it out of the ground. Then two little eyes appeared. There was a frog staring back at us looking a little perturbed by the disturbance and us rudely waking him up on a Sunday morning. Well, what could we do? The decision was made for us, we could hardly make him/her homeless, so the pond is to stay, albeit in a new, more accessible spot.
Plants were divided and some went to the compost heap making way for others which had been sitting in pots waiting for a new home. Out have come grasses, a helenium, and some sedums, in has gone a small, repeat flowering lilac, a Viburnum opulus and some hesperantha.
With time soil had made its way on to the gravel paths, so much so that I’ve had as many plants sprouting in the paths as in the raised beds this summer. As everything was getting an overhaul the gravel was moved on to plastic sheets whilst the weed membrane was swept. We made a fantastic muddy mess by washing the gravel to remove any soil and plant material before putting it all back on top of the membrane.
Working outside at this time of year brings its problems. For a couple of weeks after the clocks change, the shorter days take me by surprise. You come back after a break for lunch and realise there’s so much still to do but that daylight is already slipping away. I seem to have spent quite a bit of time in recent weeks scrabbling around in the dark with a torch perched precariously whilst bulb planting, tidying out the greenhouse or potting up plants. I think a head torch might be making it to the top of my Christmas list this year.
The other problem is mud. It’s impossible to do anything in the garden without creating a mess and the damp weather means nothing dries out. You start this kind of work with the best intentions taking wellies off every time you come indoors but when the phone rings and you’re trying to do the welly removal dance at speed or you’ve forgotten something for the umpteenth time it’s all becomes too much of a faff. The wellies remain on and the floor starts to resemble the mud splattered patio. Then there’s the clothes. It was hard to tell if there were gloves under the hand-shaped clumps of mud which Wellyman left by the back door.
I didn’t think a patio caked in mud was what the magazine editor and photographer would be looking for to accompany shots of spring bulb planting. I’d scrubbed and scrubbed with a brush but it didn’t seem to make the flagstones look any cleaner. Day after day of thick fog and moisture saturating every surface didn’t help. I was contemplating hiring a pressure washer at one point, until I woke one morning to the sound of rain pelting the roof and more importantly the patio. Every cloud has a silver lining.
You can’t call what we did a garden redesign but I think it’s enough to fire my imagination for another couple of years. It’ll give me the opportunity to grow new plants, to experiment in the garden and in the vase, and to excite me as to how elements of the garden will change through the seasons. And, perhaps most importantly for now, there’ll be lots of lists and scribblings this winter as I scour the plant and seed catalogues.
Have you got any plans, grand or small, for your garden this autumn/winter?
It was lovely to get out and do some physical work. Even if I did ache for days afterwards.
Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread said:
Big project, but it sounds like you’ve gained a lot of ground. 🙂 We took five raised vegetable beds out that had seen better days and replaced them with three. In the open space, I added some perennials and a couple of roses. All of the hard work is done so in the spring we can add compost to the new beds and plant away.
Hi Judy, We were lucky to have that one weekend where the weather was suitable for all that work, it has rained ever since and now we have hard frosts. Like you say, it’s good to get the hard work done and come spring we can both look forward to the planting. 🙂
I can’t wait to get gardening again… I should really treat myself to a few new pairs of gardening gloves – and then cake them with mud!
Plans for December – unless hard frost hits – include getting 798 bulbs in the ground in my new garden, cutting down a large shrub and beginning the digging for the pond and stream I want to install in spring… Oh, and fixing the broken pane in the greenhouse and maybe pulling down the wood-store lean-to in front of the main shed. Success criterion: Getting the bulbs in the ground!
Oooo! You have a new garden? Sorry, I’m so far behind on blogging and what everyone is up to. That’s brilliant news. Very exciting! Is the garden in Denmark or are you still in the US? We had our first heavy frost last night, so I’m off to the allotment to sort out the dahlias. That’s a lot of bulbs. You need to have a bulb planting weekend and rope in friends to come round and give you a hand. 😉
Hehe… Well, a few things have changed. I got a divorce, moved back to Denmark, bought a house in the country (getting the keys 8 days from now on December 1st!) and generally I’m reinventing my life. And I realised I wanted a garden in my life no matter what, even if I’ll still only be a weekend gardener and only use the house in the country for weekends and holidays.
I’ll have 1,462 square meters of garden all to myself, with views of fields and the odd village church tower peaking out from behind small woodlands.
And 798 bulbs isn’t THAT many… And anyway I need to get fit, because there will be so much work to do on the house (what do you expect when you buy a house for just over £17,000? Move-in-ready?) so doing some digging will be good exercise.
Crikey! You have been busy. The house sounds like quite a project. 😉 It all sounds amazing and the garden sounds like it’s in such a beautiful setting. The perfect place to create your dream garden. I bet you can’t wait for December 1st. Best of luck with it all. I hope there’ll be blog updates. I really must get back into the whole blogging thing this winter. Lou x
P.s. My Cut Flower Patch book ended up being published in Danish. 🙂 Now that’s something I never thought I’d say.
The house just needs a new roof, new flooring, possibly new ceilings, some new wall treatments and a new bathroom and kitchen. Nothing major. (Actually, apart from the roof and the bathroom it’s actually sound enough, so it’s really not as bad as all that. It’s just in a very financially depressed region of Denmark, hence nobody can get a mortgage there and I could negotiate the price down by mentioning that I could pay by bank transfer upon signing the deal.)
You can see the house and some of the garden here: http://flaneurgardening.com/2015/10/14/oops-2/ – just pictures from the estate agent’s website, but they’re all I have… And yes, I’m very much counting down to December 1st and looking forward to my run-down house in the country. It will be lovely!
And published in Danish? You’re joining the ranks of Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard and Karen Blixen, Mrs. Fancy-Pants! What is the title in Danish and what publishing house is printing it?
Well it’s going to keep you busy. I don’t think we really think Denmark has places that are financially depressed. I’ve just read a fascinating book about Scandinavia (more of which in my next blog post) which opened my eyes a lot to a region I’ve always been interested in.
Just had a look at the house. It looks gorgeous. I can see why you feel for it and the garden. Looking forward to seeing the garden evolve.
I know! It’s in French and German too but, and I’m not sure why, the Danish one that is the most satisfying. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Scandinavia as a whole. 😉
Never mind; Google found it for me. And published in cooperation with the Danish parallel to the RHS, Haveselskabet? That’s quite a cachet…
Sorry I didn’t get back to you. I didn’t realise that about it being the Danish equivalent of the RHS. I just get a copy of the book sent through, often you don’t even know it’s been translated. Thanks for letting me know.
You have been working hard! It’s nice that you’re keeping the pond. I have a tiny one, maybe only about 80 gallons, but it’s amazing how much wildlife it attracts. I seem to have lots of frogs now, hopefully they’re out eating the slugs after dark. No plans to change anything in my garden over winter, but I do plan to put more effort into the garden and the allotment next year. Like you I lost my way a little this year. I had less time, and it showed. Next year will be better! I know what you mean about the mud. I have some clearing and weeding still to do down at the plot, but it’s just too sticky with all this rain.
I think we’d need to have a whole army of frogs to tackle the slugs in the garden. The mild, wet autumn has seen them tucking into plants all over the place. Grrrrr! I’d like to be more on top of things next year too, although I fear I’m setting myself up for a fall with that one. 😉 We had a really hard frost last night, so just off to tend to my dahlias.
Backlane Notebook said:
That sounds very exciting and since you’re an experienced gardener it’s sure to be lovely. I really like changing my garden (certainly not for the sake of it with the cost of plants to consider) but when it’s justified it can be thrilling. And I love dividing up favourite herbaceous plants to incorporate in a new scheme. I’ll look forward to your images next year.
Thank you, Sue. I hope so. It’s certainly giving me something new to focus on which I needed. I always forget to take enough pictures of the garden. That could be a New Year’s resolution. 🙂
Hard work there. I’ve been rejigging plants all autumn, splitting for sale and some going back in but the weather is fast catching up with me. I will be glad to finish what I have set out to do. I have never wanted a cutting garden as I just cut from anything I have, sometimes I get ladies from a flower group come and raid the garden, it’s great fun.
The first hard frost has hit here, so I’m off to sort out the dahlias and tidy up the last remaining annuals. Sounds like you have a fantastic garden for picking. Not sure mine’s big enough to let the flower group loose but hopefully it’ll keep me supplied along with the cutting patch on the allotment. 🙂
Excellent job, Glad to read that you are back to it with your interest reawakened. I like the head torch idea! My plan is to deal with the boundary of my garden, out will come the scrappy mess of self sown elder, dead conifer and brambles, in will go some fencing to be followed by a mix of tough plants to cope with heavy clay and regular drownings from the spray off the road.
I’m so pleased we did it when we did as the weather has been awful since. Now I can wait till spring and then get cracking with lots of fabulous plants. Sounds like you have plans too for a tricky sounding spot. Have you thought about the planting yet?
Yes lists of plants are getting longer. Need to start modifying before man with digger arrives.
A head torch… Hmmm. I have often wished for strong outside lighting so I could garden in the cooler summer nights in Florida, but I didn’t think of a head torch! Fun idea. As far as my garden plans go, I need to get more winter crops sown. I also want more flowers this winter! Must have color!
I didn’t think of one until a few weeks ago when I still had lots of bulbs to plant but it had gone dark. 😉 A torch isn’t much use as you can’t hold it and garden. I definitely think a head torch could be the way forward. We had our first heavy frost last night so that’s it for the last of the flowers now. There’s a few hardy souls which will brighten up the garden over winter but now it’s the anticipation of spring and all the bulbs. How cold does it get in a Florida winter?
See, this is one of the reasons I started a blog. Do you know how many of my friends would have laughed at the idea of getting lighting so I could garden after dark? I mean, I get it, not everyone is crazy about gardening, but it’s nice to find a few that are. 🙂 As far as our bitterly cold winters go, sometime might get as low as 26 degrees Fahrenheit at night, but a few days later may be much warmer. Not much to complain about here. 🙂
Same here. Most of my friends and family don’t get gardening so it’s been fantastic to discover a whole world of gardening mad people out there. 🙂 26F is chillier than I though it would get there. The last couple of winters have been relatively mild with only a couple of days of frost and no snow but we have had 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit in the garden. That was the worst winter I’ve known. A whole month of snow and ice and temperatures staying below freezing. Brrrrr! I’m hoping for something milder this winter. 😉
That sounds terrible. I don’t like to be cold. Our really cold part of winter only lasts about 3 months. Last year I didn’t bother covering my kale, collards, mustard greens, etc and they did just fine. I wasn’t of a mind to cover them last winter. 🙂
Diana Studer said:
he is working on our pond, and I still have rows of plants to get in the ground.
You sound busy too. 🙂
You have made some big changes Louise, moving a pond of any size is no small feat.
Hi Christina, It took us all weekend and the changes are pretty small but hopefully they’ll make enough of a difference. We still have some tree and shrub pruning to do in late winter. Hopefully it’ll give the garden a bit of a fresh feel to it come spring.
I made a Cutting Garden last year and I’m only just beginning to get it right! We’re just on the cusp of summer here in New Zealand and I’m sowing like crazy and planting out like a mad woman. I’ve just realised how important biennials are in a cutting garden…. I didn’t quite get mine sown and planted out in time sadly. But next year I’ll be sowing ammi, hesperis, snaps, larkspur, icelandic poppies and that’s just for starters. Also perennials are essential to bulk out posies in early Spring. I need lots more but I prefer to get cuttings or plants from the farmers market rather than spending a fortune at the garden centre. Enjoy planning your Cutting garden……my cutting garden is definitely my happy place!!!
Good luck with the cutting garden. It took me a few years on my allotment to get the planting and timings right for my cut flower patch. I always make a note on my calendar at the start of May here to remember the biennials which helps a lot. All those you mention are favourites of mine. I’ve sown loads of Iceland poppies this year. I need to keep mine in pots over winter and then plant out in spring because the winters here are too wet for them. We just had our first hard frost last night but I was still able to pick a bunch of flowers yesterday afternoon. I’ve had 8 months of home grown flowers which I don’t think is too bad. I’m looking forward to a few months rest where I can wade through seed catalogues planning for next year. 🙂
It sounds like a lot of hard work but I’m sure it will be worth it. It’s easy to lose interest when you’ve got the status quo but shaking things up a bit can definitely give a renewed enthusiasm. I’m so pleased that you’re keeping the pond, the wildlife will definitely thank you for that and in turn, Mr Froggy will keep the slugs off your new plants, hopefully!
Not sure where my comment went, anyway, it’s easy to get a bit bogged down with the sameness but jiggling things about a bit can give a renewed enthusiasm. I’m so pleased you’re keeping the pond, the wildlife will thank you for it, and Mr Froggy will keep the slugs off your new plants, hopefully!
Hi Jo, I’m always having problems posting up comments on your blog. 😉 I don’t think blogger and wordpress like each other. I’m certainly excited about seeing new plants in the garden in the spring. I think I’d need a whole army of frogs to work wonders in the garden. Fingers crossed there’ll be more next year to help keep the slugs at bay.
Dear Wellywoman, I am new to your blog, a fledgling gardener from the wet and windy west of Ireland. I bought your book at the beginning of last year to get ideas and its been an inspiration. I have a lot of space (almost an acre) to garden on, but really its just a field, with stone walls around the perimeter and barely any shelter, so if ever there was a blank page garden, I’ve got it! I have a 20m2 section of it under plastic sheeting – earmarked as my 2016 cutting garden. I put a (well anchored) polytunnel up the end of the summer and I have anemones and ranunculus planted in it along with some sweet peas. I managed to get 150 tulips in the ground on Sunday and thought I was a total trouper until I read an earlier comment from someone sowing hundreds!! I got myself a miner’s lamp (in Aldi I think) and its the business. I have started wearing it to go on slug murdering missions in the polytunnel at night! I love reading your blog, keep sending inspiration into the blogosphere. Its sometimes hard to keep being motivated especially in November and sometimes its difficult to visualise the best way to use your space. Trial and (in my case lots of) error
Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I’m so pleased you liked The Cut Flower Patch. I’m very impressed by your plans. Oh I wouldn’t be put off by people planting hundreds of tulips. It really depends on what you want to do. 150 tulips sounds like a good amount for a home grower. I always believe it’s best to start off a bit smaller anyway then you can judge if you need more for the following year. I love the idea of the miner’s lamp. 😉 It’s very kind of you to say. I’ve been away from blogging for a bit because of work and other commitments but I’ve missed it. I agree about the visualization. It’s the part of gardening I find hardest but I’m having fun learning. 🙂
jacqui brocklehurst said:
Hiya just wanted to share this with you. I teach Forest school and we realised one of our 6 year olds was very creative especially with natural materials, so we bought your crafted garden book. He loves it! Every week he comes to Forest school club and whispers ” can I have the book please”. He flicks through it, chooses something that inspires him and runs with it. It’s so good to see 🙂
Hi Jacqui, Thank you so much for letting me know. He’s clearly a youngster with immaculate taste. 😉 Seriously though, that is very heart-warming to know and makes the hard work I put into the book worthwhile. So good to hear of a child being inspired by nature and a book rather than computer games. 🙂 Have a great weekend. Best wishes Lou
I’m glad to read that your gardening mojo has returned with a vengeance. It sounds as if you’ve been having fun despite the ensuing mud baths. Head torches are a most essential fashion accessory when it comes to nocturnal slug hunting. No grand plans here but like you I’m hoping to grow more flowers for cutting next year, especially annuals that I can sow directly at the allotment. Hope that you have a good weekend – it looks as if it will be a good one for indoor activities such as catalogue perusal.
Hi Anna, Yes, the more I think about it the more I realise how useful a head torch would be. Pleased to hear you’ll be sowing more seeds for cut flowers. Have you decided yet? I have an enormous list which needs whittling down. Mmmm…. it has been awful weather here but we still got out today to do some dahlia protection at the plot. They’re probably going to rot if this weather continues. It’s very soggy here. 😉
Hi again Lou – I’ve just tried to comment on one of your older posts but couldn’t. It was just to say thank you for coming back to me with names for the dahlias that featured in your 3rd september post. It’s much appreciated 🙂
I’ve set it up so you can’t add comments to old posts to control the amount of spam I was getting, so sorry about that. Not a problem. 🙂
I liked this post then forgot to comment. I’m not surprised that you lost interest for a while but it’s good to see that you’re back in the grove so to speak. I think that all you’ve done recently is worthwhile and will please you next year when I’m sure we’ll all have a good gardening year.
My plot has now been put to bed for the winter so I’ve no plans to do anything now until the spring except ponder and potter. xx
Yes, I’m looking forward to seeing the new layout and ideas come to fruition. I’ve still got work to do on the plot. It’s been so wet and inevitably when it has been dry I’ve been working. Hence the beds still full of annuals and piles of plant debris building up. We must get some dry weather soon. xx