My Garden This Weekend – 23rd November


There is nothing better for the soul than a couple of hours in the garden, steadily working through a border, clearing and tidying especially on a grey damp Autumn day when any garden time feels like a gift.


I have been cutting back, weeding and collecting leaves in the borders either side of the grass path, although its more of a mud path at the moment and I really do need to sort this out in the next season.  There are few flowers in evidence aside from some cyclamen and violas but the garden is still full of colour and texture thanks to the evergreens.  I continue to be more attracted to plants with good foliage either evergreen or deciduous.  Having had a very catholic taste in plants over probably the last 20 years I now find my interest becoming more focussed on certain groups of plants: good foliage, bulbs, ferns, woodland plants and I find myself looking at the borders to see how I can utilise the space better and incorporate more of my favourites.


One of the borders that I have struggled with for some years in the border in front of the old pond.  I need to bring some cohesion to the space.  The more shady end isn’t too bad and I think there is some structure forming but it is the opposite end by the workshop that really challenges me.


The bare soil is witness to my indecision and confusion.  It isn’t a big space I know but it needs to have some impact due to its location and I am crippled with indecision here.  It is currently home to late spring perennials including lathyrus and aquilegia as well as various digitalis but there is no wow or impact here.  I have toyed on numerous occasions over the last year with putting in a rockery or a crevice garden here; I thought it would blend in with the path and the slope of the border would help.  I am full of enthusiasm when I have been to one of the Alpine Garden Society meetings but although I love alpine bulbs and some alpines my reaction to rockeries, even the modern crevices, in the flesh is indifference.  I can’t get excited about the tiny plants and all that stone.  I need foliage, texture, glossy leaves, fine leaves, silver leaves, lushness with seasonal floral highlights to add sparkle.

As I posted a few weeks ago I was inspired by Keith Wiley’s approach and coupled with an article in the RHS The Garden magazine by Roy Lancaster on evergreens this month I can feel some ideas forming in the recesses of my mind which hopefully will have formulated properly by next spring.

2014_11230026The next task is to tidy up the Woodland Border and the Rose Border (top of the wall) and to clear the way for the bulbs which hopefully will be appearing in the near future.






14 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian Skeys says:

    In my experince Helen Rockeries are difficult to maintain, the weeds seem to hide their roots under the rocks. Its as if they know!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Brian
      I strongly suspect you are right and all that tiny tiny foliage and grey, not my thing

  2. kate says:

    Hakonechloa grass might look very nice cascading down that bare bit of slope you are wanting to fill….

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      hi Kate
      That’s a possibility although I have found that grass hard to establish in my garden in the past but it’s food for thought

  3. Shirley says:

    Hello again, Helen  It’s interesting to hear you are turning to the garden plant focus that I started with. I still garden with this focus but I’m adding more flowers now especially for bees and butterflies. I agree with Brian that not just weeds but invasive alpines do hide roots in rocks.

    My spin on you considering rocks/a rockery is… don’t consider it if you don’t connect with them. I say this as someone who began gardening at the age of 10 by moving my Dad’s rockery from one end of the garden to the other (all by myself) and then I rebuilt it. I still adore working with rocks now and have become quite creative with them over the years 🙂

  4. Plans for doing any outside work was thwarted yesterday by persistent rain here in Norfolk. Temperatures must have dipped pretty low last night as good frost evident this morning,however the sun is shining and promises to be a better day for getting something done today. Definitely think that your idea of using more foliage plants for colour, form and texture is the way to go.

  5. rusty duck says:

    How about a ginger lily (Hedychium) in that spot? Some are more hardy than others, and perhaps might grow too tall. But all summer long it builds up lush jungly type foliage and then in autumn you get the bonus of exotic highly scented blooms. Being on the junction of two major paths, something of a statement would look the business. Any scented flowers (or foliage) would also be great.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      Thats a nice idea, will ponder. I think I have one lurking in a pot already so will check to see if it is hardy

    2. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      Your comment reminded me that I have had a hankering for a dark leaved banana plant and this might be just the thing, although I may have to lift it each year which would be annoying but the thinking process has had a good kick start, thanks

  6. Pauline says:

    Foliage takes on a much more important role in the winter I think, while all the flowers are having a rest. You have some lovely combinations in your garden, the first photograph especially, should be of interest all winter.

  7. Hi Helen, the great thing about winter time is that there is plenty of time to ponder and read plant books. Also, it’s a good time to really see the garden clearly without loads of foliage in the way. By the time March comes around, you’ll be raring to go with plenty of ideas. Good luck! Helen

  8. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Love all the splashes of gold leaves on your garden!

  9. Anna says:

    A couple of hours playing in the garden at this time of year is indeed manna for the soul Helen. I had similar fun this morning. I enjoyed Roy Lancaster’s article so much so that last night saw me ordering one of the shrubs that he mentioned 🙂 I will be interested to hear how those ideas of yours come together.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      You are quick off the market I had only got as far as thinking oooo I like that in the Roy Lancaster article!

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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