My Garden This Weekend – 21st April 2013


I should really change the title of this post to my garden this week as I have done around 6 hours in the garden after work.  As I said in my last post this is not something I am in the habit of doing and I find myself wondering why.  This week I spent four evenings staining the back fence.  Not the most exciting job and when there is so much to prick out, pot up and weed it took a lot of determination to start the job in the first place.

My view this week
My view this week

To be honest we have lived here 9 years and I have never stained the fence and I suspect it is many years since anyone has, if there ever did.  I have avoided doing firstly as there was a vast laurel in front of it, then my focus has been on the ground looking at perennials etc and it is only in the last year or so I have opened my eyes and seen the boundaries for the disaster they are. As part of the workshop development I needed to move a large Pyracantha to a new site in front of said fence so it was a case of now or never.  You could tell  it hadn’t been stained for ages as the fence positively sucked up the stain.  I had to do two coats to get the darkness I was after but I am thrilled with the result.  The dark fence has lifted the garden in a strange way, the bamboos show up much better.  As you can see in the photograph below I have moved the large Pyracantha into position and I have also planted another four much smaller ones. Admittedly the concrete bases of the fence still stand out and I considered painting them but then there is a risk that it would be hard to match the fence which will naturally fade.  Anyway the plant is that the Pyracantha will clothe the bottom of the fence as well and I will be planting other plants in here to create a layered screen.


As well as staining the fence I also worked my way through the borders during the week and on Saturday.  It was thrilling especially in the woodland area where lots of treat were showing their faces but I was especially pleased with the bog garden where the Ligularia is looking quite decadent with its glossy burgundy foliage.  I have moved a whole host of foxgloves to the back of this border to add some height and also as they needed to be relocated from the workshop site.  I had hoped to get some candelabra primulas today from the Spetchley Plant Fair but I think it was too early as none were to be seen.  The Plant Fair was great and I will post about it soon.


So lots of tidying achieved, lovely back fence (the other fences will be done at some point this year honest), and the plant moving from the workshop site has started.  My eldest has also started to lift the back lawn which will be a huge job so I am pleased he is helping.  We need to dig out quite a bit of soil from the back  slope to accommodate the workshop so the plan is that this soil will go where the lawn was to improve the levels of the new big border.

Meanwhile in the greenhouse and cold frames more delights are germinating: Digitalis trojana, Digitialis ambigua, Cyclamen hederifolium ‘Silver Cloud’, Boykima jamesii, Aster amellus and Astrantia major x’Sunningdale Variegated’.  I think my priority over the coming week is to get on with the pricking out and potting up and to start hardening off some of the tender plants.

Note: the top photo is of an unknown Epimedium in the woodland border.


18 Comments Add yours

  1. Fabulous job with the fence! The color makes the spring greens pop.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Marian
      You are right the dark makes the green sing, I can see why designers like dark backdrops

  2. Anna says:

    I think that we are all just so pleased to see the back of a long hard winter that we are all spending as much time as we can outside making up for it. The plants in front of the fence are really accentuated now – job well done Helen 🙂 Look forward to reading about Spetchley Park.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      It is so nice to get some fresh air even wrapped up in layers and smelling of fence stain! I feel much more relaxed having spent time in the garden

  3. I have concluded that for me a garden is really a piece of art that you never finish, you work on it because it gives so much satisfaction in just the doing. I loved the walk through your garden; I can see why it is so enjoyable for you.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Charlie
      I agree, I am finally using my garden to express myself creatively instead of worrying about the horti rules etc.

  4. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Looking good! Lots of hobbies don’t leave the World looking so pretty! eg chasing a little white ball around a course and trying to put it in a little hole!

  5. I am very fond of foxgloves. All of mine are D. ambigua, I have never heard of D. trojana.

  6. Your fence looks fabulous. It truly makes the contrasting shades of green glow. All in all, sounds like a weekend well spent!

  7. With the horrid weather on weekends I need to find time after work to devote to cleaning the rest of the beds and you have inspired me to do so…yours are looking so nice

  8. Janneke says:

    Lovely Epimedium in your garden and I know the satisfaction which gives such a well done job with the fence. It looks very good indeed. I have lots of foxgloves in my garden but not these special ones, have to find out in my books.

  9. Rob says:

    The Fence does look good. Maybe you could get some of that woven natural boundary stuff to put in front of the concrete bit? Something like this –$ja=cgid:5312942207|tsid:41259|cid:116728007|lid:46591163567|nw:g|crid:20211942047|rnd:13001522111986439039|dvc:c|adp:1o2

    Here’s my monthly. I know you’ve already seen it, but for anyone else… –

  10. Donna says:

    Hi Helen,
    You are right about that dark colour setting-off the colour of the plants, it gives everything a great back-drop and looks fab!
    I wondered whether your bamboo was planted directly in the ground without barriers/liner to stop spread? I only ask because I’ve been toying with using bamboo as a screen at the bottom of my pater’s garden. I hesitated at the thought it would be too much trouble to dig a hole and then have to line-it; but he’s too old to keep things in check. My worry is it might spread and take over if i just pop it in the ground without a barrier – would appreciate your thoughts/advice…

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Donna
      Will email you about the bamboo – I did put in a barrier but not sure if I needed to!!

  11. hillwards says:

    Excellent work. We have still to get around to staining the fences we put up three years ago, it’s been on the to-do list for a few weeks now: if we don’t do it soon, the borders will be too full and we will have to wait till next winter/spring!
    There were lots of candelabra primulas on sale at the RHS Cardiff show this weekend, though my husband is not a fan, strangely, so none came home with us. I rather like them, I remember growing some from seed in my parents’ garden when I was quite small.

  12. Great job – isn’t it great when you finally get a job that you know needs done but have always found other thing to do, actually gets done. I finally got round to painting the last two section of trellis for the top of the long fence today. I just need the wind to calm down and I can get them up!
    That’s a pretty little epimedium – miles ahead of mine!
    I was very please to see my candelabra primula foliage just peeping through the soil, I was a wee bit worried. I saw some available in a GC yesterday maybe a wee bit too early to be widely available!

  13. Cathy says:

    Another satisfying week’s work – well done Helen! – and your last photo shows what a promising area this part of the garden is. That epimedium is a lovely colour, isn’t it?

  14. Your garden is looking wonderful Helen, the fence is a huge improvement. I envy you the help with turf lifting, I’m not looking forward to getting rid of the grass in my front garden. Or rather I am, but not the process of getting there…

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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