About the garden

Having been a gardener for most of my life, I’ve been tending this tiny Hampshire plot since we moved here in August 1999.

When we arrived, it was pretty much a blank canvas: a typical, recently-built housing estate garden with a threadbare lawn, some hardy fuchsias that had been planted rather strangely with half the rootball sticking out of the ground (we were soon to discover why!) and a couple of dying dwarf conifers.

We decided immediately that nothing was worth saving and set to with our shiny new forks and spades intending to clear the whole site, but it quickly became obvious that this was going to require rather more time and elbow grease than we’d bargained for. Nowhere could you insert a garden tool more than a few inches without being brought to a bone-juddering halt by some item of builders’ debris: broken bricks, breeze blocks, lumps of aggregate, roof tiles, you name it, it was there! The mystery of the half-planted fuchsias was a mystery no more since it was clear that anyone wanting to plant properly was going to have to excavate an extension’s-worth of detritus first, and the previous owner had obviously had better things to do – or had valued their spine!

So, over that first winter, we cleared the ground earmarked for borders but left what would have been the lawn area, electing to cover it with landscape fabric and gravel instead – it was doubtful that we could have grown good grass in any case given the shadiness of the site.

We then continued the back-breaking toil into spring by digging in as much composted manure as we could afford in an effort to improve the soil, which surely needed all the help it could get, being a medium to heavy clay silt that drains quite poorly in winter and dries out rather easily in summer.

Then began the fun bit: planting! We tackled structure first, putting in a tree (Prunus amanogawa) at the end of the garden and various fence-clothing climbers and shrubs (pyracantha, clematis, roses, pileostegia, honeysuckle) around the perimeter, before moving on to the finishing touches, the herbaceous perennials, bulbs and annuals.

Naturally, not everything was a success, and many plants have come and gone over the years, which is really why I decided to start this blog. I watch my garden growing and changing, season by season, year by year, but I quickly forget what I liked and didn’t like, what worked and what didn’t, so it would be nice to have a record to look back on and a place to chew over my thoughts on all things horticultural.

Gardening constantly teaches me something new, and no matter how much I think I know, there is always a surprise waiting around the corner: this will hopefully be a place where I can learn from those surprises and put them to good use, and if anyone who might chance upon it finds it helpful, that of course would be a splendid bonus.

Happy gardening!


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