Fourteen years in the making

For some reason the title of this post made me think of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address but that was four score years and ten! Anyway, I have had my garden for just over fourteen years and I thought having not posted about the garden for ages, since April I think, I would give you a quick tour.

Lets start with the front garden.  Regular readers will recall that in April 2016 I dug up the front lawn and planted the whole of the front garden with mainly late summer perennials.  Well my youngest son dug up the lawn whilst my eldest son installed the brick edge path ably assisted by my amazing mortar mixing skills. It has been a huge success and is something I should have had the courage to do years ago. I love the changing colours and textures through the year and there is always a sense of movement even on a hot still day like today.  It is full of wildlife from birds, frogs, bees, butterflies and other insects and of course my cat.

To access the back garden you go down the side of the house where you encounter The Banana; its The Banana as I grew it from seed two years ago and am hugely proud of it.

The patio isn’t too crowded at the moment, its been worse but it does need a bit of a weed.  In fact the patio has been looking its best this summer, all neat and the pots arranged so there is a good display, no seed trays, lanky seedlings, random purchases etc.  The reason is that the house is on the market! Yes, I hope to move and so the garden has had to put its best foot forward and look gorgeous since late June.  It has also had to try to not look too scary or intimidating for a potential new owner.

So we go up the steps at the end of the patio to the main garden.  If you look towards the back of the photo you will see the open boundary where my new neighbours chopped down all the trees last summer.  I have spent a year trying to convince myself that its fine, I can adjust the garden to a sunny one instead of a shady one, after all when I moved here I had to learn to garden with the shade and just think of all the plants I could grow.  But it doesn’t matter how much I tell myself this I have stopped wanting to be in the garden. My garden mojo packed its bag when the large sycamore went; ironic really as I used to moan about all the sycamore seedlings.

To be fair its not the neighbour’s fault its just one of those things, its simply time to move on.  We have been here 14 years and the intention was only to stay 7 or 8 while the boys were at senior school and then move on.  But we have been happy here, the house and garden have served us well.  I have learnt so much about plants and gardens and what I like and don’t like.  Before this garden I had had gardens but never one that allowed me to experiment and explore horticulture like I have over the last ten years – of course the fact that the boys are grown has given me more time as well. The removal of the trees is just the thing that has pushed me into making the decision once and for all – I have been thinking about moving for probably three years if I am honest.

So the current position is that I have an offer on this house and my offer on another house has been accepted. Surveyors and solicitors have been instructed and a mortgage offer confirmed and now we wait.  I don’t want to tempt fate by telling you about the new house but the garden is larger, its more rural and my gardening mojo isn’t quite back but its popped in a few times, especially in the middle of the night.

Today I went round the garden and made a list of all the plants I want to take.  I have taken cuttings a few weeks ago of favourite shrubs that are too big to move especially the Grevillea Canberra Gem in the front garden which reminds me of my late sister so is hugely sentimental and I will miss profoundly.  There have been discussions about whether I should take any plants at all. Wouldn’t it be better to start again but I don’t think the purchasers are gardeners and I have spent a long time collecting my ferns and epimediums so no they are coming with me.  The list today stood at 80 plants (including bulbs and cuttings) – I just remind myself of a gardening friend who recently told me she moved with 400 plants.

While I was making my list I thought I should take some photos to remind myself of the garden at its absolute best and to give it its due despite me as I have garden very little this year. Its full and voluptuous and makes me realise that moving on I need to be more relaxed with my garden as it is quite capable of looking after itself for a while and that means my new passion – embroidery and quilting – can thrive alongside and in fact I will be a more rounded person.

Of course when there is firm news and contracts are exchanged I will share but at the moment all my hopes are pinned on one property and there is nothing else tempting me so fingers crossed.

Having written this post I feel a little sad at the thought that my garden may in a year or so be no more but its one of those things. Its time to move on and start a new garden which will build on everything I have learned and will include some friends from this garden and who knows the new owners might decide to keep some of my garden – either way I hope they enjoy the garden and house as much as we have.

 

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37 Comments Add yours

  1. cavershamjj says:

    Thats exciting! A blank canvas at your new place? I would find it a wrench to move gardens but the possibilities would be a big draw. Just noticed I said moving gardens, not houses. Funny how priorities shift when one gets properly bitten by the bug.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi yes it’s funny saying moving garden. We have more plans for the potential new house than the garden though, it’s only really writing this post that’s made me crystallise the idea that I am leaving the garden

    2. cavershamjj says:

      All the best. Hope to read about your new garden here.

  2. Layanee says:

    I am sure it will be difficult to leave your current garden. Change is hard but it is also transforming. This from one who has lived in the same house for over 40 years. I would be happy to help you dig some plants. When shall I jump across the pond? Best of luck with the move.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Layanee would love your help but I have to do the digging around work commitments and soon there won’t be a spare bed either! Let me know when you are next in the UK and you might be able to visit my new garden!

  3. redstuffdan says:

    What a beautiful garden – With these wonderful pictures you have immortalised your hard work – Thankyou for sharing – we just love English gardens – difficult to recreate here as the climate in the summer is far too hot and humid.

    Regards

    Dan

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Dan
      Typical isn’t it just as it all comes together I decide to move, it’s a bit like when you finally get the house right!

  4. Oh, all the best of luck, Helen with your new garden nad new life. Take what you love most, plus, what you have learned, to start afresh with new eyes.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Thanks Kate

  5. Sharron Penasack says:

    I’ve enjoyed the evolution of your garden so much – especially in the front. What a beautiful make over! A new home and garden – how exciting. I will so be looking forward to what gardening adventures are ahead for you. I hope you will find the urge to garden enthusiastically and continue to share with your admirers.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Sharron
      I am hoping that a new garden will mean more posts. I certainly think that blogging helps chart a garden which is interesting. I love looking back on my blog to see how the garden has developed

  6. What a bittersweet blog post. I’m not much into reading blogs but I loved this one and I’m feeling quite emotional now.
    P. S. I love epimediums too, but so far only have the very common ones. Maybe I should do a bit of research as part of my garden is shady.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Thank you Betty, it turned out more bittersweet than I expected.

  7. Leslie says:

    Best of luck for getting that house and garden that you have your hopes pinned on! And yes, your present garden really is looking lovely!

  8. Hannah Shine says:

    Good luck in your new home and garden. Your photos are wonderful and I am sure you will go from strength to strength…….

  9. Susan Strutt says:

    A new house and garden….turning the page to the next chapter in your life. Lovely to see pictures of the garden again…I think the revamped front garden us a triumph.Hope all goes to plan and I look forward to reading about your new venture.

  10. Your garden is looking fabulous. What a turn around for the front garden too. With all your experience with this garden, you should feel confident, and excited, to start with your new garden.

    When I moved in February, I took about 200 pots. Some of those were already potted or were alpines, but I did dig up the plants that would be hard to obtain elsewhere, or had a specific memory of a person or place.

    Good luck with the sale and purchase. It’s never easy, but I wish you as smoother sailing as possible. See you in your new garden 🙂

  11. MCH from New England, USA says:

    Oh, dear Helen, I feel as if I know you after reading so many of your posts. I so admire your needlework skills as well as your gardening expertise. The new owners of your special garden will find enchantment there. Your ability to take many of your treasured plant collection will comfort you as you begin anew. All best wishes for happiness in your move. I look forward to reading and seeing your photos about your move and settling in. So happy you got the fine pics of your completed garden to keep your memories of it fresh. I have learned a lot from you. Marion

  12. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    what a beautiful garden !! it would be hard for me too to leave my home and garden to other owners….good luck with your new home and garden though !

  13. Ogee says:

    Leaving a garden behind is so hard. I hope the new owners find a way to make your special place their own. If not, nature reclaims what was hers and you begin anew. There is nothing better for getting your mojo back than a clean slate.

  14. hb says:

    Fourteen years well spent! Now, on to greater beauty. Thanks for the tour and sharing the journey.

  15. Steve says:

    Hi Helen, I started blogging when you started your front garden make over. And what a fantastic change that make over has been . It is looking great and when you think that the majority of front gardens consist of a square lawn and maybe a border it really demonstrates what can be done. For you this is the end of one gardening adventure and the start of a new one.

    We moved to our garden 23 years ago and while the garden had all the ingredients for success from a design point of view it was boring. Now after 23 years of love and attention it has got to the point where we can spend hours just walking round and looking how it has developed……………and we are still developing it!

    I hope you have found such a garden that will keep you busy for at least the next 25 years. The challenge will be great but the rewards will be plentiful. Good luck.

  16. I’m sure you’ll be too busy in your new garden to regret your old one. I wish you a fantastic new adventure in the new house and garden!

  17. Janice says:

    What exciting news that you will have a new home and new garden to put your own stamp and special magic in. I would take as many plants as possible as they will look so different in a new configuration in the new garden-not to mention the money you will save!!. Can’t wait for the new posts!

  18. We’ve been in our house/garden 24 years. I keep mentally designing one more garden so I am excited to follow your progress. We sold our first house and garden with no problem but I worry about this elaborate garden making a sale difficult. Glad your beautiful garden was not an impediment. Best wishes on this big life change..

  19. Anna says:

    Oh a new chapter – what an exciting prospect Helen. I’m sure that any move is inevitably tinged with some sadness but you will have so much to look forward too. Am I right in presuming that you will not be straying far from your beloved Malvern Hills? I hope that all proceeds smoothly and will keep fingers crossed for you.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      Yes we will be staying close by, hopefully only 10 mins the other side of the town centre if all goes to plan

  20. Hi Helen, just wanted to wish you all the best with your endeavours, and to let you know that I’ve put a link to this blog post in my latest post as part of a thank you to you for hosting the End of Month View of the Garden for all these years. Hope that’s ok.
    Again, all the best for the future, and I hope you blog about your new garden.

  21. Cathy says:

    Oh well done on making the decision Helen, especially knowing the hard work it will entail and now having to think about what you would like to move from the garden that you have put so much work into. The front garden is looking amazing – remembering what it looked like when you first used to feature it on EOMV and then when the grass was first lifted and the path laid it is hard to believe it is the same area…what a transformation! The result is wonderful and you can justifiably be proud of what you have achieved. Moving on will be like starting a new life almost, and I wish you every happiness in all aspects of your life

  22. bittster says:

    What an exciting yet difficult decision. The gardens have come along so far, and really made a transition in the last few years so I’m excited to see what you make of the new one. So many memories, it will hit you one day while packing, but the future is so exciting!

  23. What a magnificent garden! It must be so difficult to leave this behind, I bet you have such an emotional attachment to it now. However, onwards and upwards!

  24. Alison says:

    Hi Helen – wishing you all the best with your house sale and the adventure of a new garden. Xx

  25. Why is it that whenever my garden gets busy with plants and flowers it just looks like I am not caring about it, yet everyone else’s busy garden looks great! I have tried a few times to let my garden grow with plenty of plants, but it just doesn’t work for me. I have to strip it all down again to a simple garden. A shame really.

  26. Diana Studer says:

    Definitely take plants and cuttings with you. Mine have moved with me from garden, to garden to garden, a cutting with a few leaves … now a little taller than me.

    Plants hold memories and love and joy. And I remember your sister, it was around when I started blogging. I have since lost one of my three sisters.

    The olive tree I see thru the bay window in my front garden, was a volunteer seedling in Porterville.

  27. homeslip says:

    Hi Helen, like you I’m going to be moving on soon. I’ve been here 26 years and have poured love, sweat and tears (in that diminishing order) into my garden which I’ve created from a builder’s plot. I am rubbish at change but am trying hard to stay positive and I have to say that reading through everyone’s lovely positive comments to you here has helped enormously. We can do this!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Thanks however I am seriously having second thoughts as I have just found out that part of the property I want to buy has been underpinned. Am seriously thinking of stay put for time being

  28. Alistair says:

    Your garden looks like it has many gems, taking as many plants as possible is very wise. I do hope the transaction goes well.

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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