Monday, 16 March 2009

The Side Garden

For the last eight months or so the side garden has been a building site as the old stone utility building has been rebuilt with its corner further away from the ancient yew tree. New drains had to be laid and the small lawn was dug up. We lifted a lot of plants from the main flower bed and kept them in old potting compost bags ready for replanting when the garden came back into its own.

It is still far from finished. The grass needs to be reseeded, paths need to be laid and a piece of trellis erected to hide the oil tank for the cottage. It is not currently a lovely spot. It is also not a piece of garden that will be easy to create: the soil is stony and thin, some of the garden gets sun for most of the day but some is in shade for a good while. In the winter the wind is funnelled past the house.

In its favour: the utility is a stone building under a slate roof and you enter the garden by walking under a really noble yew tree; one boundary is a ramshackle stone wall topped by a hornbeam hedge, one boundary is a tumbledown wall and one is a thick, properly disciplined Leyandii hedge. There is a glorious pink rhododendron which has singlehandedly cured me of my dislike of rhododendrons and a Viburnum bodnantense which is lovely but needs a bit of restorative pruning. Many plants just won't grow here at all but there are some already that will: oriental poppies, day lilies, hardy geraniums and crocosmia Lucifer and some daffodils. There are snowdrops along the bottom of the horbeam hedge and wall.

This makes it sound rather more prepossessing that it actually is. At the moment it looks bare, stone filled and totally unpromising.

I have made another big bed, quadrupling what was a narrow bed, perhaps four foot wide, which I dug out and treated with manure a couple of years ago. That strip has been fertile enough to support foxgloves and penstemons so my hope is that with a little cosseting with compost and watering in the first season and careful plant choice, I might be able to create something which will last and look beautiful from the kitchen window.

This is the new bed, at the end of February, to prove the unprepossessing point! The blue thing at the back is a small tree fern under its winter protection.

Plants to go in:

Euonymous Fortuneii Emerald and Gold (H 4 ft, S 5ft 6ins)

Snakes head Fritillaries (7)

Pulmonaria Blue Ensign

Pulmonaria Diana Clare (2)

Euphorbia martini (2)

5 Hellebore orientalis, 4 single, 1 double

another five white foxgloves

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