Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Down the Garden Path





Fancy a wander around my garden? Well, grab your wellies, a mug of tea and follow me down the garden path...


My garden is my sanctuary, my go-to place when I need some clarity, inspiration or a little bit of peace and quiet. And it's a place I never tire of, even when it's chucking it down with rain or swathed in a muffling fog.

More importantly, it's also a family space, where my children have had endless fun running around with friends, built dens, had wild adventures, played hide-and-seek and swung tirelessly on the 'tarzi'. Not to mention the sledging (we're on a considerable slope in parts!),  the snowball fights, building snowmen in a variety of shapes and sizes and the enthusiastic games of frizbee with the dogs. And, of course, I mustn't forget to mention the obligatory barbecues where DDH (my Dad-Dancing-Husband - and the biggest kid of all!) has shown off his extensive (he told me to add that bit!) culinary skills. Oh, and did I mention his unique way with a lawn-mower? Hmmm...it's probably best to keep quiet about that!




Gardens, I'm sure you'll agree, are very versatile places indeed.




When we first moved here - nearly fifteen years ago - the garden was rather bland and massively over-grown in parts, but I was undeterred. I knew right away that I wanted to fill the space with colour and fragrance and plant wide borders over-flowing with blowsy English country cottage flowers. It's been an exciting challenge, as well as a massive learning curve - that still continues - but I'm loving every minute of it. I'll hold my hands up and confess it doesn't have the neatest of edges, isn't weed free, and we have a constant battle with bracken, dock, nettles and giant hogweed in certain parts of the garden. But family life, and all it entails, takes priority; we'd much rather enjoy the garden space than stress about how it's not as perfect as it could be.


Heavily fragranced roses are a key feature of my planting - if it has no scent it doesn't get down the garden path! And one of my absolute favourites is Rosa Albertine (pictured below), a vigorous rambling rose with a rich, heady fragrance that reminds me of Camay soap (its colour does, too, actually). Nothing comes close to its perfume suspended in the summer evening air, gently wafting around the garden. Hence I've planted several of them, where they are equally happy climbing up through old apple trees, along walls or clambering over sheds.


One of my favourite borders is the White Corner, inspired by the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle created by the socialite, Vita Sackville-West (www.nationaltrust.org.uk). Mine is on a much smaller scale, though!


Here I've planted a variety of roses, including Iceberg, Rambling Rector and Margaret Merril. They sit side-by-side with a magnolia 'Stellata', an amelanchier (both stunning in the spring) philadelphus' Belle Etoile' and choisya ternata. It's getting a little over-grown just now, but I'm loathe to take the secateurs to any of it until flowering is well and truly over and done with.



                                              

This Rambling Rector rose (above) grows over a wrought iron arch under which there's a small stone bench which is the perfect place to sit in the shade and absorb the wonderful heady fragrance.


Another favourite planting colour scheme is soft purples and pinks, interspersed with creamy whites which I find to be a soothing and calming combination. And, as you can probably imagine, lavender in all it's various guises features quite heavily (I'll be working on a Yorkshire Lavender post right after this!).




I've planted the above clematis to climb through the branches of a gnarled old apple tree.


This Rhapsody in Blue rose really excelled itself this year and has flowered for months.


I know hydrangeas aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I've just recently fallen in love with them, especially in this two-tone shade of blue-pink, and have planted them in borders and terracotta pots. The lace-cap variety are really eye-catching, too.


I've also been keen to place fragrant plants in close proximity to paths and gates ensuring we're never far away from a delicious hint of perfume.


And the sweet scent of this honeysuckle is the first thing that hits you as soon as you arrive through the garden gate.


As I mentioned earlier, the garden is a work-in-progress and I'm constantly learning what goes best where (the soil is a mix of clay in some parts and sandy in others!) which sometimes results in a very pleasant surprise! I've tried to ensure that there's something of interest for every season, whether it be  the colourful foliage of euonymous, winter flowering shrubs such as viburnum 'Bodnantense Dawn' - its pretty pink and fragrant flowers are always a welcome sight - or early spring bulbs like the well-loved stalwarts: snowdrops and daffodils.

And I do like to have pots of brightly coloured annuals dotted around, too...






I planted these pinks a couple of years ago and they're really coming into their own now, their stunning colour equally matched by their gorgeous perfume.


I decided to try my hand at creating a blue and yellow border as I really like this bold colour contrast - especially in the spring. It's taken a while to get established as the rabbits managed to get in and made mincemeat of it last year, but, thankfully, they appear to have left it alone this year (touch wood!)...


As well as the contrasting colours, I've tried to include a variety of  textures and shapes, and I love the perfect sphere of this echinops (aka globe thistle)...


...and the bells of this two-tone penstemon...


And I do like to bring a little bit of the outdoors inside, so I always have at least one jug full of freshly cut flowers somewhere in the house...





Although I've planted a few herbs - stalwarts sage, thyme, rosemary, mint, fennel and chives - in the borders and in pots, future plans are for a medieval-style herb garden complete with willow hurdles. And there's the perfect spot for a shepherd's hut...

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little meander around my garden, a place where I'm equally happy weeding or planting and getting lost in my thoughts.

Till next time...


2 comments

  1. Such a nice post to read, your garden feels so dreamy Eliza!! You must have so much memories in it! I just moved with my boyfriend and I miss a lot my old house garden. Now I have a little balcony and I really want to fill it with tones of flowering plants!

    federica

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  2. Hi Federica, we've been having wifi problems (thankfully, now fixed - fingers crossed!), so I've only just been able to get onto my blog to reply. Thank you so much for your lovely comments and, yes, there are loads of wonderful memories and happy times in the garden. From your gorgeous blog I can see you have a really good eye for design and I'm sure you'll make your balcony beautiful. Eliza x

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