In November I discussed a design challenge in our garden. This is an update prior to contractors arriving to lay down the hard landscaping. The design challenge was to create a plan for the area of garden behind the wall which had been used as a general dumping area. Things have moved on and we now have a plan for the paths which were to follow the diagonal lines above.The bricks will be laid in the form of a “knot”although we do need to think through how the corners work. There are two options, the right end or the left but this is probably best done when we have the bricks on site and have measured out the overall shapes.
The bricks took some time to identify. They needed to be suitable for paths but also not to look wrong next to the old wall which was built in 1704. The bricks we have chosen are Old English clay pavers from Chelmer Valley.This picture shows them when they have been laid flat. However, we have decided to lay them on their edge. This has the advantage of better matching the bricks in the wall and it makes it easier to haunch them without the mortar showing along their edges.To give an idea of how they will look these pavers (slightly different from the ones we have chosen) have been laid on their edge, so our paths will be similar to the diagonal run of bricks.
Between the paths will be gravel; up to a metal edge along the edge of the lawn, up to the wall and around the trees themselves.
To achieve a unified design the gaps through the yew hedge and by the fruit cage will have have the same pavers laid in a similar way. These changes will give a very strongly defined lawn area which will be a precise rectangle and be symmetrical around the opening in the far yew hedge. This will also make lawn maintenance easier.
Lastly we shall have the same pavers laid along the edge of the small lawn which is up a step from the new design area. This small lawn is adjacent to the large pond area which is surrounded by similar pavers bringing a continuity to the design.
We have also decided on the trees. These will be Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire‘ – narrow, upright small trees with excellent autumn colour once established. The final choice of tree was determined by the site which only gets limited sunshine and the need for a tree that would not undermine the wall. Many thanks to people who suggested alternatives.
Until now the area has been a dumping ground!
but during the last few weeks I have been sorting out the good stuff from the rubbish and has amassed many river cobbles and granite sets that I am sure I will find uses for elsewhere in the garden. (I just need to find somewhere to store them now)
The contractors should arrive on September 19th so there should be another blog later in the year to show the result. We have wanted to do something here for at least 15 years so at long last something is happening. This is the last significant are of our garden to be developed.
And if you were wondering how the pigeons were doing here they are! They have just about doubled in just over a week and really the nest is hardly big enough for both of them.
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News flash: The first swallows arrived on April 3rd
Tulips have really come out this week. For many years we have planted Tulip Red Impression all along the left hand border to our garden. It is hard to get the effect in one photograph but standing looking at the display with the sunlight shining across the flowers is just magical. Most of them come up each year but we look for any gaps and replenish them. Probably we plant around 100 extra Red impression each year plus many other tulips and bulbs. See blog with bulb list.Looking along the same border. There is a small cobble path running through this part of the border although it is covered in twigs from the tree above (another job waiting to be done).The same border with Anemone Blanda Atrocoerulea and Leucojum Aestivum Leucojum Aestivum which resembles a snowdrop but is much larger. Worth a space in any garden.Looking from the back of the same border.Another part of the same border.Tulip Turkestanica a species of tulip native to central Asia. It was first described by Eduard August von Regel in 1873 as a variety of T. sylvestris, then elevated to full species status two years later.Tulip Turkestanica on the edge of the “Dingly Dell” border which is actually at the back of the Japanese border.Another tulip species, Tulip HumilisTulip Ballerina lining the path to the pergola with Tulip Apricot Impression in the background.
Close up of the lovely Tulip Ballerina Sitting under the pergola looking towards the corner bed. Tulip Gavota in the foreground.
From the pergola across the main lawn with Tulip Ballerina in the foreground.
Tulip Ad Rem at the back of the corner bed. When the sun comes out Tulip Ad Rem really fluoresces.
Tulip Ad Ram
Tulip Apricot Impression together with many alliums.
Tulip Apricot Impression
Tulip Apricot Impression
Tulip Purissima (white) and Tulip Beauty Queen (pink) both plant in 2007
Tulip Indian Summer and Tulip Annie Schilder
Tulip Annie Schilder with Tulip Indian Summer in the background
Tulip Indian Summer and it has a wonderful perfume a bit like wallflowers.A final view across to the border full of Tulip Red Impression with the evening shadows across the lawn.
News flash: First rose in bloom!
As I walked back to the house I noticed that Rosa Old Blush China had started flowering
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This is the time of year when we all get out our garden notebooks and start to think about what needs to change in the garden.This is the view across our garden and shows the old kitchen garden wall. Actually our garden extends beyond the garden wall although the large sycamore tree is actually in our neighbour’s garden. The other side of the wall includes some utility areas.To the right is a fruit cage and then through the gap is the compost area. Directionally, this is looking to the south west.On the left is a dumping area. Every year we feel we should do something here but what?Same area from the other end, looking to the north east.Area viewed from the compost area. The issues are that on this side of the wall, due to a lower ground level, the wall is very tall, behind me is the compost area which is shaded by the sycamore (mentioned above). The wall is running from the north east to the south west so, combined with the sycamore tree, the area gets limited direct sun although it is not a dense shade. See also the garden map to further understand the layout.
This area is not a prime area within the garden. We wanted a relatively low maintenance solution which takes into account the light issues. Ideally we also wanted an area that feels different from the rest of the garden.First I have taken a photograph and modified it adding an area which I am planning to be some type of hard landscaping. (It is much easier cleaning up an area on Photoshop!). This will define the lawn and make it symmetrical around the way through the yew hedges.Next I have added some trees. These were provisionally multi-stemmed silver birch. I am yet to do a detailed plan for the hard landscaping but essentially the diagonal lines are to represent courses of bricks (about four courses wide ) that would create five 1m by 1m planting holes for the trees. The planting hole would have a weed membrane and gravel to finish. At this stage I am still thinking about the triangular areas by the wall and by the lawn. These could be gravel which would keep it simple or they could be cobbles which we have elsewhere in the garden and would form some continuity.
The big question is what trees to buy? On this decision there were a few of constraints. The centre of the planting hole is 1.45m from the wall so roots could be an issue, any wind we have comes from the south west and can be cold so despite the wall it is not the warmest of sites and lastly we wanted this to be fairly instant gardening so we were looking to buy trees of at least 1.75m. We are on a sandy loam soil which is free draining.
I have talked to one of the best local tree suppliers. Bluebell Nursery is an award-winning, traditional working nursery, specialising in rare and unusual trees, shrubs, climbers and conifers based in South Derbyshire, England. At this stage they have had the above brief and come up with some suggestions:
- Amelanchier lamarckii ‘Ballerina’ – small, rounded tree with masses of spring flower and decent autumn colour.
- Drimys winteri – unusual evergreen tall shrub/small tree with glossy green leaves and white flowers once established. Should enjoy being near a wall.
- Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire – narrow, upright small tree with excellent autumn colour once established.
- Eucryphia x intermedia ‘Rostrevor’ – small, upright and fairly narrow evergreen tree with masses of white flowers in late summer/early autumn. Should enjoy the shade and grow well next to a wall.
Another we considered was Styrax japonica but unfortunately, it would not be very tall initially for instant gratification. However, they would come into their own after a few years in which to get established. As for the multi-stemmed silver birch the advice was that we would definitely risk damage to the wall in time and even if not the case, as the wall is so tall you would be unlikely to have perfectly symmetrical habits forming as they would tend to grow towards the light given the opportunity.
At this stage we favour the Sorbus but the jury is still out.
Any suggestions gratefully welcomed.
Where do we get our garden design ideas from? Although I look a gardening books and receive a number of gardening magazines I seldom take ideas directly from them. However, when we visit gardens we often get inspired to borrow the idea. These get jotted down in our garden visits note book. For example many of you will have seen this planting scheme at Sissinghurst Castle.
Sissinghurst Castle from Steve Reed’s blog
We have a wall (much smaller) with a similar aspect which for many years we had struggled to find a suitable planting scheme. When we saw this it was a eureka moment! The planting was Vitis vinifera purpurea and Clematis Perle d’Azur under planted with Belladonna Lilies. I even had an email correspondence with the head gardener at Sissinghurst to check out the exact varieties!
Not quite as impressive but it works and apart from a little pruning once a year is more or less maintenance free. This was planted up about ten years ago so you can imagine our surprise and delight when this came out this year.
Only one so far but a start. I suspect the bed does not get enough sun but now they have started flowering maybe more next year.
One of our favorite places to stay in Devon is Lewtrenchard Manor; a great location for visiting Devon gardens
Although not an ideal photograph, in the center of the picture is a raised water feature which is surrounded by a small wall. The wall is covered by a small climbing roses and once again Clematis Perle d’Azur. Very simple and we had the ideal spot to repeat this idea.Here it is around a well near our front door. This time with Rosa May Queen and Rosa Phyllis Bide and you can also just see the Sissinghurst scheme in the background.
Visiting a fantastic private garden in Norfolk designed by Tom Stuart Smith we came on this planting scheme.Box balls with Hakonechloa macra under trees. This is the green Hakonechloa not the more common golden varieties which would have been too much. We had an area of the garden where I had tried to imitate the Japanese tightly pruned azelas plantings. However as azelas do not do well in our area I had used a range of hebes. It worked well but the hebes did not like too much pruning and got too big. We needed a rethink and in our garden we now havealthough the box has been replaced with yew balls due to a scare with box blight. In spring we have snowdrops and Anemone Nemerosa before the grass comes through. The trees are Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Lace Lady’ a unique small tree worth considering in any garden. Again very little maintenance required and the scheme gives year round interest.
Actually at the back of this bed the stone pillar is the base of a granite Japanese lantern which fell over recently and is waiting to be put together again. Not so easy as it needs four strong men to lift the top! Any wind tends to come across the field at the back and the grass then moves like a river.
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