My Garden This Week – 3rd February 2013


Not a lot has happened in the garden over the past week – well I haven’t done much but the garden has been busy getting on with it by itself as it has a habit of doing.

I felt quite anxious yesterday since I only managed to grab half an hour in the garden and walking round it I just felt overwhelmed by all the jobs that need doing.  I have decided to redecorate the dining room, which has needed doing for about three years now, and I made this decision based on the forecast of cold and wet weather this weekend.  Of course, there I was painting the ceiling with bright sunshine streaming in through the window and I could feel my anxiety coming back.  This is completely ridiculous as it is only just February and whilst the bulbs are putting on a spurt most of the perennials are keeping their heads firmly down.  The trouble is I feel as though I have finally woken up after being in a trance for the last three years or so since my sister died and everywhere I go in the house or garden I see stuff that needs doing.  I’ve done the bathroom and want to get the dining room done before Spring really arrives and I can focus on the garden.  Of course in the garden I have a whole load of projects I want to carry out but also there is alot of maintenance that has been very neglected and I can’t even think where to start.


Today having got up early and done the second coat of paint on the ceiling I grabbed an hour and half in the garden before the rain came.  I went for another walk around the garden but this time with a different head on.  I noticed the tulips emerging in the early summer border and it seems that my black  and white friend hasn’t munched as many of the tulips as I thought he had.  It might not be as stunning a display as I had hoped but it should still be good.    But the best thing was that it appears some Trillium seeds have germinated which I sowed back last April – who said I wasn’t patient!!


As the back grass is still so sodden I decided to confront my nemisis  – the front garden.  The re-design ground to a halt back in late summer when I just gave up due to the rain.  As I said on my End of Month post I have planted quite a few plants in the borders and I was pleased to see that the Salvias were still doing OK despite the recent cold and there were new shoots on the peonies which were unceremoniously moved last year.  I had planned to dig up the three Cornus which are going but instead I ended up weeding and cutting perennials along the driveway border.  There are signs of crocus coming through and I wanted to make sure I can see the flowers when they appear.  There are quite a few gaps in the border as I hadn’t quite decided what to add to supplement what is already there and I really need to see it in flower to decide how to move forward.  Lurking on the patio were 10 pots of wallflower seedlings – all red – so I decided to pop these in the gaps where they would at least have a chance of growing and flowering and would add interest while I consider my options.  Having top dressed with bark I felt a bit more positive about things.


I am still thinking about how I take forward the idea of losing the back lawn and in particular the need to have some sort of path through the space.  To make it works it would need more steps which is fine as we have already built a number but there is something that is resisting this idea.  I don’t want more hard landscaping.  Due to the garden sloping up from the house when you look at the garden from the house you are very aware of retaining walls etc.  I was struck when watching Monty Don’s French Gardens by a formal garden where they had lifted the paths, reduced maitenance and had grass instead.  I like the sense of the place.  Then today I was looking at the witch hazel and found myself drawn to the mossy lawn and thinking I like this bit of lawn – maybe I could just keep a corner of lawn.  This thought has been running through my head all day and I find myself drawn to the idea of having sort of grass stepping stones through the borders.  They would be more lozenge shape and different sizes and maybe  not all of grass but of other alternatives such as mentioned in Beautiful No Mow Yards.  So the lawn steps would be like reverse island beds and wrapped around by planting.  Well its an idea and may come to nothing but its the first one that has really grabbed my attetion.

I think this time of year is when the best ideas come to mind.  It is easy to see and assess the garden better when you are presented with the bare bones rather than distracted and dazzled with summer flowers etc.

I have a busy horticultural week ahead with a snowdrop trip with two blogging friends and also a meeting of the Alpine Garden Society so no doubt I will have even more ideas by next weekend!!


15 Comments Add yours

  1. A lovely post straight from the heart, dont be overwhelmed by potential jobs around the house, i’m in a similar situation of trying to get the house in some sort of order, but then feeling guilty and anxious about tasks in the garden.

    I’m trying to tackle one room at a time and rewarding myself with a set time in the garden if the weather is fine.

    Today I had 1 hour in the garden cutting down snow squashed ferns. But I also have a lovely scrubbed Bathroom.

    Take care, and keep seed sowing.!

  2. Cathy says:

    Yes, Helen, Cynical Gardener is right – you love all things gardening so please don’t let lack of time in the garden taint that relationship. Even in a 10 minute stroll you can find things to bring joy to your heart and have sudden flashes of inspiration – and this can be all you need to lift your spirits, which you must take good care of…

  3. Anna says:

    It may well have been sunny and bright yesterday afternoon Helen but the wind was bitterly cold. Not yet time for marathon sessions 🙂 Your witch hazel looks most glorious. Enjoy your snowdrop visiting and make sure that you report back.

  4. Mark and Gaz says:

    Some nice signs of spring there! I agree that this time of the year is when the best ideas come to mind, with being well rested (in theory) from winter and the garden is still mostly in slumber but ready to be sorted for the arrival of spring.

  5. Holleygarden says:

    How funny – I was looking at my bathroom today and wondering if I could get it painted before I began gardening in earnest! It may have to wait! I think you are right about winter being a good time to dream about garden plans. Sometimes, all those blooms get us thrown off track, but with just the bones showing, we can imagine a lot of different things. Your spring bulbs are beautiful, but your witch hazel is stunning!

  6. I could have written some of this. We garden to relax, and yet we fret about the garden, about getting the chores done, and done right … I think there could be a big audience for a book on Beautiful No Fret Gardens. If such a thing is possible.

  7. Hi again, Helen. I love your idea of “lawn stepping stones” and wanted to tell you that I’ve seen one garden that did something similar, and it has stuck in my mind for years as it was both beautiful and whimsical. Three circular lawns were separated/connected by thresholds of a few stepping stones with low flowers (catmint perhaps) on both sides of the thresholds, graduating to taller plants to partly obscure the view between the three lawns. They were offset rather than on an axis, so they sort of (I want to say “whirled” for some reason) down a slope around the side of the house. It was really a lovely garden. I’m interested to see if you will take this idea and run with it, and what you might create! Best of luck. -Evelyn Hadden

  8. The only thing that strikes me about the lawn stepping stones, Helen, is that (and I may have misremembered this) you were thinking of removing the lawn so there was less work. Keeping the stepping stones in check (cutting tiny areas, maybe trying not to damage surrounding plants, edging) could well turn out to take as much time as the whole lawn, even though the grass area is so much smaller. From a lower-maintenance point of view, one of the best things that can be done with a larger lawn is to edge it with something like Everedge to keep it in check.

  9. Helen–I have stepping stones that are planted around with the 3-inch tall mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’) on a hillside space. The mondo holds the soil when heavy rains cascade down the path and also gives the eye a bit of rest from the jumble of larger plants at either side. It spreads slowly here (South Carolina) and is relatively easy to keep out of the beds.

  10. commonweeder says:

    EArly spring! What a wonderful time of year. Here all I cana do f or my garden is take care of all the house projects so nothing will distract me when I can get outside.I love your hellebores.

  11. sophiecussen says:

    Too much garden (however small), too little time. I know the feeling. I think we, as gardeners see daylight and think we have to be out there. Just a couple more weeks I keep telling myself and the weather will allow me to make those changes and do the tidying ups. It’s hard though. Who wants to be stuck indoors – we were made to be outside 😉

  12. One needs several heads to screw on and take off as occasion demands. This post alarms me with thoughts of spring cleaning. I need a completely new head for that one! Haven’t looked closely at my garden for a couple of weeks. I’d assumed everything would rot in the ground but can see, from the window, that bulbs are coming up. Can’t imagine how they’ve supplied.

  13. Hi Helen, how wonderful that you feel you are emerging, sorry it gave you a few “moments” as you got overwhelmed by everything you want to do. I am in a near constant battle with the same things, and am repeating the mantra “its only February” in the hope that it will slow me down a little. On the plus side, at least you can garden in your head whilst wielding a paintbrush, and if your heart is saying “no” to more hard landscaping I’d listen. The beauty of trying your intriguing grass Islands idea is that it won’t require loads of heavy work if you change your mind, though personally, as someone who hates cutting grass, I’d be tending more to the grass alternatives. What wonderful textures you could wind up with.

  14. rogerbrook says:

    Well done getting trillium to germinate- just a few more years to wait now!
    One of the pleasures in raising you own plants from seed that takes some years to mature is when it first flowers! It’s one of the benefits of gardening a long time-there are always plants coming out of the pipeline that you started years before!

  15. anastasiaabboud says:

    It is hard after the loss of a loved one; I was in the trance you referred to after my mother died. It’s funny how we ignore some things that might help heal us, like our gardens. But they wait ready to completely absorb and enthrall us when we’re ready. Enjoy and God bless.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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