Getting to Know my Garden

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Finding old shards of pottery amongst the plants as I dug over a flowerbed last week, I thought about the number of people before me that must have done the same thing in this garden. Digging the soil. Making it new. Adding, and taking away. I thought of the children that must have played on this lawn and climbed the old pear trees. The keen gardeners who have sought quiet sanctuary. The birthday parties and family gatherings that have been celebrated in this garden. There’s a lot of history here, rooted into the earth.

This old garden of mine is well established; full of fruit trees, flowering shrubs, rose bushes and swathes of lavender.

Lavender in my garden

I've seen it through every season now. The camellia blooming in early Spring, providing bright pops of colour with their loosely petalled blooms. The pale purple of the lavender, perfuming the air in Summer. The golden orbs of the hydrangea as the flowers dry out in the Autumn. The scarlet dogwood giving much needed colour over Winter.

Scarlet dogwood

But as beautiful as it is, it's not how I envisage my garden looking. There's no space for growing vegetables, there's a rather run-down rambling rockery and the huge flower bed dominates the lawn. And I can’t forget to mention the six (!) camellia bushes. Now, 18 months after we moved in, and one baby later, I’m ready to start making my mark on the garden. I’ve watched the colours change over the year, revealing some beautiful combinations, and some less so - the harsh yellow of Ligularia ‘The Rocket’ is rather startling against the creamy pink of the briar roses that scramble around the base of the pear tree, and the lilac ombre of the foxgloves.

Flowers in my garden

I now know which plants we want to keep, and which we can re-home elsewhere (that Ligularia for a start!). I know where the sunny spots are (there are plenty as it is S/SW facing), how the soil behaves and where the neighbourhood cats like to curl up for a snooze...! I've made a small start by creating a herb patch near to the house - garlic chives, oregano, sage, mint, marjoram, borage, lemon balm and rosemary all sit in close proximity to one another, alongside some of the old lavender bushes.

Strawberries, courgettes, cucumber and runner beans have all taken over the end of the large flower bed after I removed a few paving slabs and a forest of foxgloves. I have big plans to shorten this flower bed and put in some raised vegetable beds, make space for a shed in a currently rather wild corner of the garden and create a floral cutting patch. I think I need to get sketching, planning and writing a plant shopping list! Any hints and tips on redesigning a garden are gratefully received!

Thanks for reading,

helen