My Garden This Weekend – 17th March 2013


At last the weather has been kind and allowed me a day in the garden.   The weekend had started well with a visit to Victoria at her new home and meeting her incredibly cute puppy Rufus, who is a scream.  I have known Victoria four or five years,  originally through blogging, and have stayed at her old home in London so I was very interested to see what her new home in the Cotswold would be like.  She has been doing a lot of renovating in the house and I think she wouldn’t be cross with me if I said the house was slightly chaotic but the kitchen fitters were about to finish so hopefully by now she is beginning to feel she is getting back on top of things again.  We retreated to a nearly pub for an excellent pub lunch and left them to it.  She has a wonderful new garden with lovely views out across fields to trees beyond.  The garden has been neglected for some years but it is almost a blank canvas for Victoria to work her magic on.  I think it will be very interesting to see what she does.


This morning the sun was shining and for once I looked out at the garden and smiled.  The woodland/spring border is really beginning to fill out.   The canes mark a path  I want to put through it.  I have struggled for the last two years since I put the border in to make it work.  The trouble is that the woodland plants I love, which the border is for, are generally quite low and small so how do you make a deep border work and still be able to see the small treasures.  Then I was reminded of Olive Mason’s garden at Dial Park  which I visited some years back and how she had a path through her woodland/spring garden.  The plan is that the path will be very informal, just lined with some branches and covered in bark chip.  I am having to wait though for plants to emerge so I can see what is in the way of the path and move them accordingly.  Then I will be able to plant the small plants, including my new small collection of snowdrops, so they can be seen from within the border as well as at the front of it.

2013_03170009The back fence has perplexed me for several years ever since we removed a ridiculously large inherited laurel which swamped the whole back slope.  Two years ago I planted some bamboo in this border to screen our view of the house  behind and there are deciduous climbers on the fence.  But this is not hiding the fence and I don’t want to plant trees or large shrubs against it as my neighbour behind like to chop at anything overhanging the fence and throw it back!  However this week the penny finally dropped, and why it has taken so long I have no idea as it is such an obvious idea.  I am going to plant pyracanthus along the fence which will provide berries for birds, pollen for insects, can be cut back hard and will provide an all year round evergreen covering for the fence.  I said it was obvious!


I am still perplexed about the back ‘lawn’ which I want to remove as it is sodden and really is just a space we cross to get from one part of the garden to another.  There is a path going in along the top of the green space but I am dithering around about whether I need any other paths.  I think the real problem is that I am a bit scared at the prospect of all that bare earth.  Victoria has suggested I should just go for it as she thinks I will soon fill it with plants (she knows me well) but in the meantime she suggested I use bark chip as a mulch to prevent it looking too bare.  Still thinking!

The other idea I came back with from my trip to the Cotswold was a new location for the fern border I want to create.  The original location was given up to accommodate my son’s wood store which was on the badger’s route.  Victoria suggested that I use the small border adjacent to the patio which is actually an idea location.  It is shady  and never dries out although it drains well.  More food for thought.  It is interesting to get other gardener’s views and ideas for your own garden.


As well as thinking and planning I  did do some work  in the garden today although I dithered around for a while trying to decide where to start.  I ended up moving a load of Phlomis russeliana from the slope to the front garden, tying in a clematis, cutting back oregano and remove moss from it which can’t be a good thing, sowing more annuals and perennials and potting up some autumn sown annuals.

An excellent weekend all round.

32 Comments Add yours

  1. Blimey Helen! I never realised your garden was sooooo steep! You must need crampons rather than a kneeler! It looks like half your garden could end up on the patio one day!


    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi David
      As I have told others before it really isnt as steep as the view from this point makes it look.

  2. cabernat says:

    I’m surprised your grass stays so wet as you seem to be on quite a slope. As for taking it up, I think you should just do it & then the ideas will come. If it does not work then you can always put grass seed down. Your garden is looking good even at this time of year. Wish mine did. 🙂


    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Mary
      I too am surprised my grass stays so wet given the slope but I am assuming its due to the clay soil and also the number of springs under the soil in this area.

  3. Cathy says:

    You are still doing a lot of thinking and bouncing ideas about – but it will all become clear one day! I still can’t believe your garden doesn’t actually slope quite as much as your photos suggest it does – but you have assured us before now that it isn’t so bad. We disguised the brown-ness of a neighbour’s fence by building square trellis panels and painting them our usual ‘Wild Thyme’ colour before screwing them to the fence – we have clematis montana and ivy on it, but even with nothing growing on it the boringness was softened. Worth thinking about?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      Thats an idea – although should I presume to attach anything to the fence nosey neighbour will be theere in a shot, asking what we are doing!!!

    2. Cathy says:

      With screwing the panels on it means (theoretically) they can be removed for access to maintain the fence -but we did mention it to the neighbour first.

  4. Hannah says:

    It’s lovely to listen to another person chat about their garden so enthusiastically. Hopefully we’ll have a few more fine days to get outside!

  5. Pauline says:

    That is quite some slope that you have to clamber up, it will certainly keep you fit! The pyracantha sounds a good idea, but you will need to wear armour when cutting back, it has such sharp thorns, I speak from experience!! You managed so much work today you must be feeling very satisfied.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      Seriously the photo distorts the slope it isnt as steep as it looks. My last garden was much steeper!!

  6. Jane Scorer says:

    Hi Helen
    Just to say I really enjoyed your blog which I found for the first time today. I can really hear your ‘voice’ so that it seems more like chatting and less like reading. I am now following you , so will get to read and no doubt enjoy your future blogs too.
    I found you on a trawl through the blogosphere to see what is out there – and was very glad I did ! I am relatively new to blogging and have written my first gardening blog today. I was enthused to start because of my new mini-project which was initially just for my own interest, but then I thought it may be of interest to some fellow gardeners too. I have decided to document the whole growing season in my garden, from brown to psychedelic and back to brown ! I aim to take photographs every week to record the changes taking place, as well as photographing ‘star performers’ and wildlife too.My blog is
    Do ‘pop in’ for a quick visit if you have time !


  7. Sounds like the perfect weekend, it is always so interesting to get someone else’s thoughts on the garden, I find it often opens up all sorts of new ideas, though I can wind up feeling I am spinning on the spot.. The pyracantha idea is an excellent one, should work really well. I am itching to get rid of the grass out the front, but have visions of a river of mud if, as usually happens, it takes a lot longer than I anticipate to get it all sorted. So maybe I will have to cut the grass after all…

  8. Hi Helen, isn’t it great to be out in the garden. I have a fence that looks very unsightly, so I planted Petiolaris last year. I like the idea of a filigeree effect in winter and the lovely Hydranga type blooms in summer.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Nel
      That is a nice idea I have made a note for one of my other fences

  9. Goodness! Beautiful! Spring has come to you already–I am so thrilled to see your photos. Looking forward to getting to that stage in my garden!

  10. Overcast and we are on the 5th straight day of rain. It is causing causing spring to take on real meaning here. I really enjoyed the walk through your garden to see waht is blooming. Thank youf ro sharing.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Charlie
      I do hope the weather improves for you soon. Sunny day here and although I was at work it was nice to feel its warmth

  11. I agree with Victoria about the back lawn. An alternative to bark mulch would be to fill in with annuals for the first couple of years.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Jason
      Annuals is a good idea. I have dahlias starting and have started sowing annuals so should have plenty of plants to pop in

  12. I Love your first photo. Made me smile 🙂

  13. Lea says:

    Wow! a lot of stuff going on there!
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  14. Christina says:

    Like the others I find it difficult to believe your garden isn’t as steep as it looks but hope I am wrong because it would be sooooooo difficult if it were. As to the lawn – go for it, Helen, take it out. You are such a plants person that I know you would be able to use the space well, and it can’t be easy mowing it, even if it isn’t as steep as it looks. Good to hear your musings. Christina

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Christina
      You, and others are right, I should just go for it and dig up the lawn and stop dithering around and I shall

  15. Anna B says:

    Hi Helen, I love having a snoop round your garden! Reading through the comments someone mentioned how your voice and enthusiasm comes through. I really ‘hear’ that too and can’t wait to see your garden grow and change over the coming months. I have a pyracanthus in a very large pot next to my front door! It hasn’t grown incredibly over the years, I expect due to it being in a pot but even so, it is quite compact and thorny! I love it though, it’s so easy to look after and the little berries are cute. I’d kill for a lawn, so personally I’d keep it but maybe widen the borders each side. Isn’t it amazing that both thinking about gardening and actually doing the gardening and spending time in it brings so much joy! Thanks for the snoop around your garden : )

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      I have ordered some Pyrancanthus for the back fence. I have several around the garden already which makes me wonder why I didnt think of them for the fence before. Glad you enjoyed the snoop

  16. Anna says:

    Oh glad to read that you have managed to fit in some quality gardening time at the weekend Helen. There must have been an east/west divide. I’m away from home again and whist himself was opening up my greenhouse it was an absolutely dire weekend in East Anglia. A fern border sounds fun.

  17. Lyn says:

    It sounds like you did a lot of gardening work in the end, despite your “dithering”! Having the evergreen Pyracanthus on the fence should really give a good sense of enclosure to the top of your garden, I think. I’m still trying to hide all my fences, but it’s getting better every year. I’m always in favour of getting rid of lawn, just wish I could.

  18. Your property is so pretty! Is that incline as steep as it looks? It seems that birds everywhere love pyrancanthus. All the best!

  19. I still cannot get over how steep your back garden But it is a lovely view…lots of great ideas.

  20. hillwards says:

    Sounds like your creativity has been flowing thick and fast again, glad you have found some inspiration. The pyracantha sounds like a great solution to screening and for the birds.

  21. My eye wants a destination near the top. Is there a spot for a small bench?

  22. Bill S says:

    I think a second hand ski lift might be an idea Helen, certainly is a challenge though!

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.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s