Thursday, October 24, 2013

Garden Renovation at Home

Last year I finally got up the courage and energy to clean out a tired old shrub garden at home. This involved drastically reducing the size of the Abelia hedge, and taking every single plant out of the garden, to start completely fresh. Quite a job! Check out how much I took off the hedge!!
BEFORE: A shaded, shrubby, messy garden. The hedge used to go all the
way around the back. This is halfway through pruning it. I took every single
plant out, except the hedge, so I could start my layout from scratch. 

No-one but me believed the hedge could possibly
regrow after this severe chop. It has. It was a Very Big Job.
I replanted with a repeat pattern of the main structural plants - Liriope and Primula edging, groups of Buxus balls, Dietes, then a backdrop of Fothergilla and Camellias. Then the newly chopped hedge behind. The main colour theme is orange, yellow, blue and purple. The fillers are largely perennials, with my aim being something happening in there 12 months of the year.
AFTER: The newly planted garden. The Dietes and buxus have been planted
in a regular pattern, with the 'fillers' added later. The structure doesn't
show up yet, but it will in a few years. 

I have fine-tuned this garden over the last year. For example - in about July there was no colour - so I poked in some blue polyanthus. There is now a succession of action over the winter months, so it is never completely bare. In mid-winter, as the buxus etc grows, they will be the feature, but in the meantime, the interest comes from the bulbs and perennials - the 'fillers'.

Hopefully the front edge of Liriope will fill up soon!
It might find itself being replaced if it doesn't smarten
up it's act very soon. The white primulas have been great.
White primulas flowered all winter. Tulips and little orange
Geums added to the party.
The polyanthus added a splash of colour in mid-winter
October 2013 - garden 1 year old. Tulips and geum main flowers this week.
October 2013 - some of the orangey-yellows, with a touch of blue
Late summer - lots of orange - dahlias, Helenium and Leonotis. Phlomis in the foreground.
Right now - October - tulips and bearded iris are at the forefront. Soon it will be salvias, Siberican iris, oriental lilies, verbena etc. Later in summer - Helenium, echinacea, dahlias etc. I get so much pleasure from this garden. If you are interested, I will list a lot of the perennials, which gives the succession of flowering times for 12 months.

Here are a few of my favourites from this garden:

Welsh Poppy
Geranium Johnson's Blue (I think) - flowers for 9 months of the year - love it.
Phlomis russelliana - terrific foliage plant - flowers a bonus
Our dear long lost Maggie. What is a garden without birds??
Helenium and geranium making a bold contrast late summer
Leonotis leonora
Late summer  2013 - not even a year old. See the hedge in the background?? Not even as tall as the fence now!!
Echinacea White Swan - love this plant with all my heart!
Salvia giganteum?? Blue-black? 1.3m tall late summer.
Siberican Iris - amazing blue
And a front edging of this Lirope muscari.  
Amazing bearded iris 

Late October 2013 - garden one year old. 
These irises and geum have been split up so many times from the original one
plant I had of each. Have no idea of names, as they have been given to me
from friends gardens originally. 
I will post more photos as the season progresses, as the garden changes weekly from now on. Gives me so much pleasure to watch it all unfolding. This garden would be so easy to achieve in a small or large garden. Happy to answer questions - just leave me  a comment.


  1. Well the old saying about plumbers with leaky taps certainly doesn't apply to you Rachel!

    It's a garden full of life and colour, and I so applaud the notion of having something flowering through every single month of the year. Did you list the flowering months first, then work backwards with colour to sort out what you would include to get this 12 month effect?
    I cannot grow echinacae - it is always sickly and dies off in the early stages - although I haven't tried it in my new garden to be fair. Such a lovely flower that it is frustrating. (Bit like kangaroo paws, I can't grow them either.)

    Love those yellow iris!

    1. HI Virginia. Now you have made me think about how I planned the garden. I started out planning the structural aspects - buxus balls, large plants of dietes, front row of liriope etc. Then I think I just filled it with all my favourite orange, blue, purple and yellow plants. I then added to it over the last year, like I say, as I have noticed gaps in the seasonal display. Worst thing is that I have so many plants I want to trial in there, but now I really have run out of space! I am going to take photos of it every month, so I can remember exactly what flowers, when. For me the combination of flowering times is vital, and a garden always needs tweaking!

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