Hello again! I’ve been super busy in the garden today getting lots done. I have been working in an area of the garden that I like to call the honey suckle garden ala Monty Don style. I also have so many different areas of the garden so it makes it easier for you all to understand where I am talking about. I will have to do a diagram to show you all the oddly shaped plot I am working with and how I have been dividing the space, but I digress… Anyway, here is a photo of what that area of the garden used to look like back in June 2016 when we moved here:
As you can see, the grass had overgrown and the plot was rather boring with just grass everywhere. All the potted plants you can see are what I transplanted from our old garden and brought with us. I really wanted to create a cottage garden feel and I was not content with the idea of doing what many people do by having a large lawn area with borders all around the edges and maybe one in the middle. I also absolutely hate cutting grass (give me borders to weed and tend ANY day!) so I knew the grass had to go, but practically speaking, I knew we couldn’t just get rid of it all in one go. So, I began the initial stage:
As you can tell from the photo, I set about by beginning to set out the borders and removing some of the grass in the process. You can see the arch for the archway on the ground there, so I already had a clear vision in mind for this area and it felt natural to me to divide off this section of the garden, because on the right hand side of this photo there is a wall (not shown, unfortunately) which juts out into the space so it already created a feeling of enclosure in this area. I decided to accentuate this all the more by dividing the space with a wall of trellis either side of the archway. I think it makes the whole garden feel bigger and adds a great feature to the plot. It also lends a create climbing structure for our evergreen honeysuckle (hence the name the honeysuckle garden), which will in time twine itself over the trellis softening it all the more and creating a natural, wild looking and beautifully scented green wall! I will be writing a post all about dividing up your space and why you should give it a try soon! For now, ours cats are content assuming we built the trellis dividers as a jungle gym for them… Here is a photo of the trellis divider half erected and painted from June 2016:
Back to more recent times in October 2016, Mr. Meadow came up with the idea of building a retaining wall for the top section of the honeysuckle garden because the garden has a slight slope to it, so doing this allowed us to level off that area. It also creates a rather nice feature in that area too. It definitely has nothing to do with the additional brick we had left over from when the wall between our kitchen and dining room was knocked out last year. Nope, definitely nothing at all. That’s our story and we’re sticking with it…
We completely turned over that top area of the garden and used the sod in lasagne layers to build up the level we needed until it was all level up there. The sod has slowly been rotting down and we added a generous top layer of compost for planting into. So now we had reduced the amount of grass for mowing and added another new feature to that area. We also decided to make planting pockets in the front of the wall for evergreen creepers like campanula which will help soften the wall too. Here is a photo of what the curved wall looked like when viewed from the front:
We purchased various perennials last Summer/beginning of Autumn when many of them were discounted because they were dying down for the year (which is a great way of increasing your plant stock cheaply FYI). Initially I planted them out at that top area of honeysuckle garden just to get them in the ground because I do not like watering pots because I often forget or don’t have time due to being so busy all the way through the week. But then after we turned all the grass over in late Autumn 2017, the plants sat around in their pots all of Autumn and Winter until today! We had rudbeckia, crocosmia, eryngium (thistle), corylus (hazel), various evergreen grasses and nepata (cat mint). I have been waiting for the soil to improve once the weather warms up because the soil here is a heavy clay which meant it was just too heavy and water logged to garden in. Here is a before shot of what the garden looked like earlier on today:
And here is what the garden looks like after a long day spent planting today:
I know it still looks sparse, but many of the herbaceous perennials are just beginning their growth for this year, so watch this space! I divided all of the grasses up into four by simply slicing (more like hacking if I’m honest, it looks brutal) them down the middle:
I did the same with all the other perennials like the rudbeckia, eryngium and cat mint so that I could spread out my supply of plants:
I planted out some bare root hazel hedging plants all around the edge of the honey suckle garden to increase privacy because the garden is rather overlooked at this end. I chose hazel because it is fast growing, it will have seasonal interest in February with yellow catkins and great yellow leaves in Autumn and it is excellent for local wildlife with its supply of nuts.
I have left a space in the border to allow access to the top of the honey suckle garden (this will eventually have a proper brick/cobble pathway), where we intend to put a bench of some sort as an additional seating area. I wanted this seating area to feel secluded and slightly hidden from sight, so that is why I planted the grasses and shrubs towards the centre of the border to create a walled effect.
Finally, the first of my tete-a-tete emerged today, so I planted them in a group at the front of the walled area so that when I wake up and look out the window in Spring, they will be one of the first plants brightening up the garden for the year!
I will keep you all updated on how things are growing as Spring begins. It certainly is feeling much milder during the day and there have been some beautifully clear skies this week, so I am really looking forward to more days like that in the coming weeks. Happy gardening!
Written by Bethany Wright at The English Meadow.