Hitting the Gardening Wall


Phase Three of the privet will be total cut back.

Now it’s Winter, I’ve been tidying up around the garden and planning next steps. Somehow these seem so much harder than my previous plans. I guess I’ve done the obvious. The garden was a blank canvas, so I’ve made beds around the property and filled in some obvious spaces, but now I need much more discipline and planning to go to the next level, with form and structure, rather than just ad hoc plantings.

This has set me back a little as the stakes are now getting higher. I’d like at some point for the gardens to participate in the Open Garden scheme and know that I’ll be metaphorically standing alongside magnificent and inspiring gardens. I don’t want major structural overhauls of the garden but want to plan out a garden that has structure, form and interest whilst looking like it belongs to the Convent.

I’m happy with the beds I’ve put in place, and I think the smaller backyard is in good shape. But it’s a big block with a sparse front yard and a large, imposing and somewhat stark building at present.

The privet experiment has worked with a section that was cut back hard coming back to a neat hedge.
Phase one – the privet experiment was a section that was cut back hard. Success, with good clippable growth springing back.
Phase two of the privet demolition - further cut back.
Phase two of the privet demolition.










I know how I work and am unlikely to have a grand concept for the entire property (remembering I still have an untouched paddock next door), so am working in sections. I’d like a few areas that are clearly structured and identifiable. The privet is due to come down this week and that will make a world of difference to the property – tidying it up, opening up areas for planning, but also making it even more bare and stark. The privet experiment has proven that it will adapt back to being a neat trimmed hedge along the old galvanised fence, providing a level of formality that was once evident but has been sadly lacking for decades. It will also provide the framework for planting big old ramblers and climbers over the character timber and galvanised fence. And I’ll soften the front of the hedge with low plantings.

An ugly little corner.

The other area to be adapted is the front left corner, which I intend to turn into a small grove, giving me a shaded corner in an otherwise expansive and exposed front garden. My current thought is to put in a small grove of maybe five silver birches, mulched underneath and planted out with white hellebores. I’m gradually expanding the right side fence bed, so with all those plans, I think this will keep me occupied for a while – and give visitors something new to see when the garden is again open to the public.

It will still leave me with the challenge that the garden is still calling for more internal garden beds, rather than fringing the property, but I’ll get the other sections established first …

At present I’m devouring gardening books and looking at as many gardens as possible – determining what I like and why and what I don’t think will work so well, being particularly mindful of my climate. It’s rewarding and fun but also a not insignificant challenge.

Ground zero - just over a year ago.
Ground zero – just over a year ago.
Filling out but still so much more in the works.
Filling out but still so much more in the works.

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