These are scary words! A TOTAL REDESIGN of the front garden. This means digging, moving, sowing, replanting, more digging, weeding, propagating… I can’t wait.
We’ve lived here for three years now and I have tweaked the front garden only slightly each year. It’s been good to wait and live with the garden for a while. To see what thrives and what doesn’t; what I look forward to seeing each year and what bores me. I’ve added bulbs for spring colour and a number of roses. I’ve hauled out a couple of shrubs which did nothing for me or the garden, and experimented with adding a few annuals and perennials. It’s a very mature ‘shrubby’ garden – there are several rhodedendrons and azaleas, a skimmia and a couple of handsome continus, for example. And while many of these plants do very well and have their moments throughout the season I want to introduce interest right through from spring to autumn.
Last year saw the biggest change and I chose a section beside the driveway to add more planting than ever – mostly herbaceous perennials and a couple of new roses and shrubs. And even though I didn’t really plan it properly and added things ad-hoc, perhaps slightly haphazardly and sometimes just to fill gaps…it looked great! It gave me a vision for how the whole of the garden could look and made me realise that cottage garden style planting is the way forward. For this particular section of the border I was attracted to echinaceas, lavender, roses, hollyhocks, geums, more roses, salvias and gypsophila. Soft colour, blousy petals, frothy flowers were held together by showy dahlias and some good old-fashioned roses. I enjoyed the colour, the scent, the fact that there was always something in flower to enjoy and that the seedheads and stems are there to keep things interesting even now, in the middle of winter.
So – a cottage garden it is. And the planning is underway…
Now, I am not a designer – I’m not even a particularly good artist so please forgive the slightly scrappy drawings, but I’m loving sketching out plans for what should go where and creating ‘mood boards’ to give me a clear idea of the kinds of plants I want to grow and plant. I’ve even gone into Full Organisation Mode, using spreadsheets to keep track of what seeds I have, when to sow them and to keep a record of what I’ve grown as I go along this year.
I’ll be honest – I’m not normally this organised, and you don’t have to do this to be a ‘good gardener’. Up until now I’ve had a pretty relaxed ‘it’ll grow when it grows’ attitude to what I’ve sown and planted! But this is such a big project for me – my first proper garden project in fact – that I want to try and document it as much as I can. I feel like I’ve been my own apprentice up until now, messing about with growing a few veg, sowing some flowers and I’ve been surprised at my own success. Now I feel like it’s time to graduate up to Assistant Gardener/Trainee Designer!
Work will begin in earnest in a few short weeks but as well as all the indoor planning and a little bit of seed-sowing (sweet peas, delphiniums, astrantia and echinacea are in the propagators as I write) I’ve managed to do a bit of preparation in the garden itself, taking away some of the lawn to widen the borders at each corner, hard pruning of two shrubs (which are either Philadelphus or Deutzia but haven’t flowered for a couple of years so I can’t ID them! Hence the hard pruning…) and I’ve also moved the Monkey Puzzle, as blogged here. As soon as the weather warms up enough for me to dig a bit more I’ll move some more shrubs into better locations – I want to keep them for structure and because I like most of them, but they need spaced out to make way for interplanting of all those lovely herbaceous perennials and annuals.
A few ‘Before’ photos…
See – lots of bare soil and potential. Wish me luck, there’s lots of ground to cover!
And finally some of the stars last year’s trial ‘herbaceous border’…