Project Garden So Far.

June 10, 2016

As promised, a huge huge post about transforming our garden so far. Are you ready for a lot of reading/photos?!! 

I think you've probably realised by now how much Ben and I adore gardening. It was always inevitable given that both of our parents and grandparents are all mad about horticulture. Growing up with trips to the garden centre with my Mum, days out with picnics around National Trust gardens in the summer and watching my Grandma save seeds and have a utility room filled with cuttings, there would have been something wrong with us if we hadn't caught the gardening bug.

Likewise Ben has grown up with allotments and his Mum has a charming cottage garden.

We worked hard on our last garden {posts here and here} to make it pretty and a big part of me hated having to leave it behind. But onwards and upwards, we had outgrown it and thinking ahead to the future with children, we'd definitely need something bigger. So there was no time like the present to move now before our beloved plants got any bigger, the garden more established and me finding it harder to leave. Straight away we started designing plans for the new garden, a blank canvas that was seriously lacking in flowers! It was mainly big shrubs that had taken over large parts of the garden and there's also a 700 year old pillar from a historic Priory! 

We were so excited about having more space, we'd pretty much filled up our last garden so this time we could really think about the extra plants we would have space for plus we had always wanted a greenhouse, a mini orchard and a summerhouse. I loved our summerhouse in our old garden that Ben had built but it was filled to the brim with tools/random bits of furniture we couldn't fit in our house. This new house has a big garage that we can use for storing all of that and when we build a summerhouse again this time around, it can be for actual summerhouse use hoorah! 

I was hesitant to write this post as the garden is by no means finished, but a few of you on Instagram had requested it so I thought it can be a makeover post thus far. There is still so much I want to do to make it more cottagey and cute and it looks too new for my liking right now. But looking back at these photos has made me realised just how much it's changed already given that we've only been here for a matter of weeks. 

We were a little bit mad to start on the garden considering that we haven't even finished the house yet. But we'd bought a lot of plants with us from our old house {side note - moving in early Spring was the best time to move garden wise} which were all in pots and needed to get into the ground as quickly as possible. We also had some extra labour from my Brother's uni friends over the Easter holidays so we decided to make good use of them and get the garden under way so that it could all start growing.

{Before photos}:  When we first viewed the house, back at the end of last September, we went out in the garden and were amazed at how what a good plot it was. It was flat, wide and a good blank canvas. We checked that the grass looked healthy enough and had no moss - meaning that it got good sunlight throughout the day despite being a north facing garden. The patio area isn't to our taste but we know we won't change that until we get permission to extend out the back of the house, creating a new kitchen area that will open up onto a new patio. These are photos from the estate agent taken last summer:

I took these in January on a second viewing.

{During}: On the day of the move we got the removal men to just literally dump all of our plants and pots onto the patio before we decided what the plan was. 

It didn't take us long to make a start on the garden. We knew that we wanted lots of flower beds but thought just having one either side would be a bit boring with a big bit of grass in the middle. We looked on Pinterest for inspiration and watched a Gardener's World with a gorgeous house that had beds running down the middle of the garden. Ben liked this a lot, perhaps more than me, I love having lots of grass. But he reminded me that we'd still have enough grass and each square of grass is as big as our old garden so we might as well have more flowers. I didn't take much convincing. 

I've shared these during photos before in the renovation posts up until now but in effect we measured out the garden and marked out using string and bamboo canes where the new beds would be, giving us an outline of where to dig. And so the digging began, cutting the turf with a spade and then turning it over for it to die back into the soil. 

Slowly but surely, and with some extra muscle power, it took shape. Once we had the beds marked out, we dug out the middle bits for paths, leaving a circle in the middle as a focal point. 

We started placing plants {we wanted to keep these beds in the middle quite structured} so used lavender down the path edges with David Austin roses {most of which we'd taken from our old house as they'd only been planted for a couple of years}, allium bulbs, some stepover cordoned fruit trees and eventually box hedging down the backside with some added blooms added in each year - we've since placed dahlias in there now that it's warmed up and planted mini box hedging down the other edge. 

Once the plants had been spaced out, we dug and planted them in, adding more soil on top. We lined the edge of the borders with concrete rope edging bought from our local builder's merchant so that it created a stopper for the grass mixing in with the beds/soil going onto the paths etc. It's visible at the moment but in time the lavenders will spill over it. The paths in the middle were levelled and compacted, had sand put down and then concrete slabs laid down on top of these. We then added more sand in the gaps and then topped it with gravel. 

The large shrub border on the left side was dug out, we literally pulled everything out and had a big bonfire. It was a mound before so the boys dug the soil out and used it elsewhere on the garden, eventually leaving an area to flatten and for us to reclaim with grass. We decided to sprinkle grass seed {with a bird repellent coating} and thought that if it didn't grow we could lay turf later on. But it's grown really quickly and you can't even tell that it was just bare ground a few weeks back.

We cleared the top of the garden and planted three different types of apple tree which should over the years fill in to create a pretty orchard area. I want to plant meadow grass below it and some bluebells and cow parsley for picnics under the trees over the next few years. This will be the wild area. Gardening is all an investment, unless you want to spend literally thousands of pounds on established trees or plants then it takes time for a new garden to develop. But we want to be here for years to come so it's worth planting things early on. 

We dug out beds on either side of the garden, keeping them straight to have the four symmetrical lawns. With the soil fresh and ready for planting, we started placing plants - some new and some from our old garden. I love cottage garden plants, perennials mainly that will come back year after year. I look for things like lupins, delphiniums, roses, peonies, astrantia, daisies, hollyhocks, phlox and foxgloves.

I tend to plant in groups so that when developed there will be swathes of flowers going through the borders.

We created a cut out in the right hand border for a bench to sit on which will be surrounded by flowers eventually. I made sure that I put tall plants at the back to grow up behind it - foxgloves and hollyhocks. 

Planting a border from scratch will always look bare to begin with but it's amazing just how fast plants can grow and start to fill in. Since then I've also dotted annuals in amongst the perennials like sweet peas, cosmos and dahlias now it's warmed up so that they will grow amongst them too for this season. You could also do what I did on the first year of our last garden which was to sprinkle a wild flower/meadow mix. It will give you something pretty for the first season without buying tonnes of perennials straight away. You can also try and get plants for free from cuttings. My Grandma's amazing at giving us small plants she's taken as cuttings from her garden which again grow into big plants within a year or so. Roses are great as cuttings as are lavatera's. 

There was a huge clump of bamboo growing next to an existing shed and taking over a big part of the garden. It's notoriously hard to get rid of but we cut down all the canes and then Ben with some help literally pick axed the roots out. We wanted to get rid of any plants and shrubs straight away that we knew we wouldn't want to keep as they take up light, space and water from the plants we did want. 

I've always wanted a magnolia tree in the garden so I bought one from a wholesale garden centre with birthday money and planted it at the top of the garden on the right hand side. Hopefully in years to come will grow to be huge and fullll of blooms. 

The bench, a Lutyen's style classic, was also a Birthday present to myself and while I can't decide whether to paint it or stain it a different colour, or just let it weather, when it's surrounded by flowers I think it will be gorgeous. It will last for years and years to come. You can find similar at Waitrose Garden online here.

A huge change over the past couple of weeks has been cutting trees down. The day that we got the keys to the house back in March, it was about 3pm when we went out into the garden to realise that there was no sun!! Four huge conifer trees, that we didn't even notice before, were blocking out all the afternoon light. Only one was on our property, the rest were in our neighbours gardens so pretty much one of the first conversations we had with them was 'ermmm, about your trees...'. We were willing to pay to have them cut down but obviously needed their permission and agreement. Luckily, they were more than happy for us to go ahead as it didn't affect their light or privacy at all. We're in a conservation area so had to apply to the council before we could even snip the tiniest branch down {somebody up the road cut a tree down without permission and was landed a £5000 fine!!}. Six weeks later we were all approved and ready to go. We had three different quotes for cutting them down, ranging from £550 to £1500. Needless to say we went with the cheapest option. Three of the trees were just cut down to the base but the one on our side we had the stump ground out completely. I was amazed at how little mess they made, leaving us the logs for burning this winter as requested but taking the rest away. Definitely money well spent as we get sun all day long now and it just feels so much more open and light. 

Since the trees have come down and the structural stuff in the garden has been more or less finished, we're now just waiting for permission to come through to put up a summerhouse, a greenhouse and fence. Being a listed building we need permission even in the garden! I think it will really finish the garden off having a pretty summerhouse at the end of the garden, similar in style to our old house and having a cohesive border around the whole thing with a nice fence to grow things up rather than the mismatch of hedges and gaps etc. 

Until then, we'll just be slowly filling the borders up and adding some more interest to the garden. I have plans eventually to have a hammock somewhere, an old gate to grow things around, seating areas, festoon lights, a mirror perhaps and then once the extension is sorted - a new patio area that will open up with steps down onto the main garden. 

I think we'll be having a few more big trips to the garden centre to fill up the borders! 

A boot full of pretties. 

As I said, it's still a long long way off from how I picture it to be. But considering how it's changed in just a few short weeks I guess we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves {and miss my old garden too much}. Slowly, but surely. 


Remember our wedding sign post?? It's got a new home. I've been planting foxgloves underneath it that by next year will hopefully grow up around it. 

If you have any questions feel free to ask me. I'm off to look up summerhouse designs and hope that the council grants us permission soooon. 

Shop the post - Similar bench here. Galvanised tubs from antiques markets {see this post} but have found similar to buy online here. Rope edging from a local builders merchants, try Wickes/Homebase. Plants from our old garden and local independent garden centres.

R <3 xx 

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  1. Wow that looks so beautiful.. love it all.. I live in the countryside so have a large garden and am only getting into gardening now. Just a quick question, I love the foxglove and they are growing in the hedges around the farm. Could I take some of them and replant in my garden? Do I have to wait until they stop flowering to do that? Can't wait to see more photographs and it will be fab when you have it all finished with the summerhouse... hope you have a lovely weekend

    All things nice...

    1. Thank you! Yes you can dig up and move foxgloves but probably is best to wait until they've finished flowering. Just dig up as much root as possible and then water them in well xx

  2. Rebecca I love your style. We have recently moved and although have a much smaller garden are looking at filling it with country style flowers. Can I ask a stupid question though. The metal heart and the metal obelisk - what are these for? Climbers? What plants??? Thanks for such a great post!

    1. Not a stupid question at all. The obelisks are for sweet peas to grow up and the heart is for a large rose that likes some support xx

  3. Where did you get your heart shaped plant support from?

    1. It was from an antiques shop locally. Maybe try ebay? xx

  4. Wow... I've been meaning to read this post, seeing you'd mentioned it on Instagram, and it didn't disappoint! You've done so much! And I can't believe how much the borders are filling out already! Very beautiful. We moved into our dream home in January and it has a massive garden which terrifies me...there is always so much to do (and I want to do things to the house too!).
    Heaps of inspiration and loveliness here I will be sure to use xxx

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  6. I love your garden so much! Looking at completely changing mine after doing a kitchen extension and really love yours! Not sure if my garden is wide enough though for 4 lawns, can I ask approximately how wide your garden is? Thank you!!

  7. Where did you get your concrete rope edging from please?


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