The Renovation

front garden 2009It all started in 2009 … the idea of renovation arose in the spring of 2009 when my husband John mentioned, in the most diplomatic way, that our front garden could do with some loving care and attention, because it was, in his opinion, needing some structure. He had been taking out some of the well established plants with a view to replanting but there was no real planning involved. Well I had to agree especially as we live in a Garden City!

AnemoneThe garden had gone through some changes over the years, mostly very uninteresting ones, from venerable but leggy, pink hydrangeas to very dull columbines with Japanese anemones swamping much of the space. However they are very photogenic and I used to let them go to seed and left them over the winter. This image was taken one very cold morning when ice had formed on the stems.

The plot isn’t large 648cmx148cm. It’s on a busy road to the town centre with fairly heavy pedestrian traffic together with restricted one hour parking. After much discussion I realised I wasn’t up to creating something that would please us both and enlisted the help of a friend, garden designer Lynn Gulliver, who had written a couple of interesting gardening articles in our lifestyle magazine.

The plot was dug over and much of the rampant Japanese anemone removed as were the rest of the plants, leaving just a cotoneaster on the wall, a venerable lavender plant or two and a low growing magnolia stellata that gives a wonderful scent in early spring. Then innumerable loads of manure from a local stables were added. Lynn's plan

Lynn’s plan arrived. It was perfect and together we visited a plant centre to choose as many plants as were available on the list.

Then the hard work began, digging the holes and placing the plants as closely to Lynn’s plan as possible.

The planting plan is gradually followed … starting to plan

Heuchera, allium, tulips, bergenia, tete a tete narcissi, hellebore, wallflowers, young dahlias, cowslips Heuchera, allium, tulips, bergenia, tete a tete narcissiThen hollyhocks, foxgloves, double daisies, wallflowers, bluebells and a row of stepping stones

There was a certain amount of ad ‘hocness’ to our planting!

As some of the plants on Lynn’s list were not available I raided the back garden for some self sown plants to fill gaps. So cowslips, marigolds and double daisies were hastily dug up.

Chocolate cosmosInevitably some of the plants didn’t survive and we filled the spaces with annuals bought at our local B&Q, for instance Oriental Poppies, and Chocolate Cosmos. Both plants very popular with bees.

We were really unlucky with the tulips – they all came through stunted and were being eaten alive by some grub. So they were rapidly removed and put in the compost bin for the council, much easier and more environmentally positive than bonfires. The council method creates enough heat to destroy the pests and viruses gardeners have to contend with.

Other plants were tremendously successful, especially the dahlias that had taken my husband’s fancy at Aylett’s Nurseries and very popular with passersby who were constantly enquiring about the names. Details of each plant are in the Planting List.

We were surprised at the unexpected level of interest and we had some fascinating conversations.

We planted a tree peony in October, wondering how well it would survive the winter (it did).

Winter 2009/2010 Winter came, much of the plant growth was cut back and a thick mulch of shredded hedge clippings was strewn over the whole plot and lots of leaves. As an experiment we left some dahlias in the ground well covered with mulch and dug others up which were placed in large paper sacks and left in the garage. The tree peony was holding its own.

You may be interested to read our Notebook for 2010 Month by Month

You may be interested to read our Notebook for 2011 Month by Month 

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