Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Back garden from particulars

This week’s theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge is Change.  I struggled with how to capture this theme until my son suggested I show how the back garden has changed since we moved here in 2004.  Above is the photograph of the back garden from the house particulars.  It shows the angle of the slope which shocks many but my last garden was steeper!  You can see a conifer in the middle of the garden which was removed within a few weeks of moving in.  I loathe conifers and this was swamping the back of the garden.  If you look behind the conifer you can see a large laurel and the removal of this probably 5 years ago gave  me to back slope to play with and a whole new area of planting.

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I tried to take a photograph from the same spot and the one above is the best I can do but you can’t see much of the garden due to the prostrate rosemary.

In the 9 years since we have moved here I have really embraced gardening.  Previously I had had a tiny handkerchief garden which I pottered in but it was mainly bedding plants and annuals, then we moved to Malvern and I had a large sloping garden which had been neglected for years and I had all sorts of notions of discovering a secret garden.  It proved to be too much given that I was working full-time, bringing two sons up on my own and studying for a degree oh and renovating the house it was attached to.

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As you can see from the top photograph this garden couldn’t have been further removed from the ivy and conifer swamped previous garden.  I loved that there was a blank canvas but realised how little I actually knew.  I put in a border along the top of the wall as a starting point and over the years  this has grown and other borders have gone in.  The lawn has changed shape several times and this year, if the weather and life allow me, it will be removed completely.

I am also working on clothing the fences this year and my son’s workshop will be going in to the right of the bottom photograph where the obelisk is – it will be set back into the slope.

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So lots of change and it has helped me a little today as I am coming down with a head cold, it is raining and I am frustrated at not being able to get on yet again with my plans.  Looking at these photographs and others I can see that whilst the garden may be lacking in strong design and structure my knowledge and horticultural abilities have been transformed in the last 9 years.  Sometimes, I see articles in magazine about gardens where the owners have created some masterpiece in say 6 years and I feel as though I am kidding myself to say I love gardening given my perceived lack of progress.  But I remind myself that the people in the article are often retired or have a gardener and also years of gardening experience behind them whilst I am only really starting out.

With this years projects completed I don’t envisage any more major changes to the garden and I will then be able to concentrate more on my plants and learning more about horticulture and breeding plants.

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29 Comments Add yours

  1. What a change! You certainly have put in a lot of hard work over the years. I love photos 3 and 4 which really show the steepness of the garden. Seeing both those pictures give me a great idea do what your garden is like in full.

  2. Pauline says:

    Definitely a change for the better! Don’t worry about how long it takes you, structural alterations in the garden here took us 13 yrs and even now I am still changing and improving the planting, what I call tweaking, gardens are never finished, they can always be improved! You have done so much already and should be very proud of what you have achieved.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      My sons were surprised when I showed them the photo of the garden when we moved in, they had forgotten what it looked like and how much it has changed

  3. Cathy says:

    Yes, you have completely transformed the original blank canvas, Helen, and like Pauline says the time is irrelevant as the garden has grown and changed with you and will no doubt continue to do so. It’s great to be able to have a record like this, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing it in your blog, which has motivated many.

  4. A lot of very hard work, but so worthwhile!

  5. Change brought by the power of your own hands and mind…wonderful

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Greenmackenzir
      Thanks for dropping by. Yes it is change brought about with my own hands and mind but also with the support of my sons, which is invaluable

    2. Helpful sons, you can’t beat them. Had mine at the top of trees doing some lopping today 🙂

  6. Well done, Helen! It’s probably best not to read too many glossy garden mags as it can be frustrating seeing all these perfect places…and they don’t really say too much about how it’s been achieved, do they? As long as you’re happy pottering about and with the results of it, it’s just fine – I think.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Annette
      I dont read many glossy garden mags anymore!! They aare so artificial and as you say you dont know how they have achieved what they have.

  7. I think you have done an amazing job, Helen. It is very far from easy to hold down full-time work, bring up kids … and make a good garden. You have succeeded and I think your garden has a much stronger design than perhaps you realise – you are too familiar with it. The steps that your son made for you were a lovely addition to that design, and well photographed by you to show the effect while actually walking in the garden. Well done for ‘rising to the challenge’ (original subject of your post)…

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Thanks Cathy – you are right we get too involved with our gardens to see them as others do.

  8. I am always amazed by photos taken over time. I think what catches my interest is the distance from where we started and where we end up…our initial goals and what we count as success.

  9. Hannah says:

    It looks great. It’s really heartening to see photos of how a garden used to look and how it look now. I think that everything you’ve done looks like an improvement!

  10. Yvonne Ryan says:

    What a difference determination, imagination and lots of hard work can make. Real ‘glass half full’ and ‘never give up ‘ that gets you through!!

  11. Wow, what a dramatic difference – for the better! I really love how you have adapted to the shape and slope of your garden. Also looks like you have a lot of sun, I’m jealous!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Jason
      I do have a lot of sun in teh garden although I have a shady bit on the left hand side – I am hoping my neighbours never decided to chop down their trees!

  12. rogerbrook says:

    Any good gardener – like yourself – wants a blank canvas in a new garden!. When I moved to mine at Seaton Ross York it was a completely overgrown wilderness. Just what I wanted! You don’t want live with someone else’s ideas -and mistakes!
    I love the way you have realised the potential of your slope.

  13. Helen I think you have achived a lot in your garden, a blank canvas lawn helps as there is not a lot of shrubs and agressive perennials to remove but a conifer in the middle! is hard and costly to remove, having been a full-time working single parent I know what’s involved and know how little free time is availible,

    I agree with you re the background to gardeners who do a quick change and will add there are usually 2 of them and they have the money for things, I’m retired now so have more time but also do things slower and cannot do the heavy work I realised after reading some blog posts of younger couples gardening that they could manage as much in a weekend as I take 5-6 days to do, and if I had the money to buy the materials and as I can’t do heavy work pay someone to do it my garden could be transformed quickly,

    I don’t have a TV, I had heard a lot about a man called Monty Don and so when I saw a book by him in the library I took it out, it’s the book about how he created his garden, I found the book very depressing and returned it after a week, he had help, money for plants, paths, compost, etc, he even had the local farmer plough his garden so he started with a blank cavas ready for planting, cushy! oh I dream of such luxury,
    give me real gardeners every time, Frances

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Frances
      Luckily my parents helped remove the conifer. It look a lot of digging and pulling on ropes and then there was a loud sucking sound and the clay released it!! I think you are right it is really easy to become disillusioned when you read magazines or watch TV programmes and they make it look easy, how money and labour to throw at things but then that isnt real gardening is it 🙂

  14. Wow Helen – What a transformation!!! – it really is wonderful to see the before and now shots.
    You and your sons (aided by your parents re the conifer) have done a fantastic job.
    K
    xx

  15. Diana Studer says:

    you’ve removed a hateful conifer, cleared a swathe of dreary lawn – and made a delightful garden. You know what they say – a garden that is finished, is dead. I walk my patch – and the ideas unfold, and another bit is changed. That IS gardening.

  16. hillwards says:

    A great post, what an adventure your garden has taken you on already. I have had in mind for some time a similar post for our garden, though I am still waiting for it to settle a little more into its new shoes first, but it is heartening indeed to look back just to see how far you have come. You have really breathed life and interest into your garden, making the most of that blank canvas.

  17. Inspirational. What a lovely transformation and a lesson to keep records so that one can cheer oneself up when progress seems slow.

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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