A garden blog

Tomorrow I am to be visited by Zoe from Garden Hopping which is both a great pleasure and a cause of mild anxiety. Zoe is a serious gardener, someone who knows a lot about plants and gardens. I am a passionate gardener but so haphazard and self taught. My bookshelves groan with books about plants. I think about my garden, muse, sow, propagate but I am a rank amateur. I garden on a high bare hill, with a northwest wind and a stony soil. Much of what I tried to grow in my first year here failed. Now I propagate madly from what is here and what will thrive. There is no point in planning a thrillingly designed sort of space with rooms and great herbaceous borders and topiary, all of which I love. We are an ancient farmhouse on the side of a steep valley. The garden is a mixture of the veg patch, which has been gardened productively for generations, and a field. I plant trees for an orchard and daffodils round their feet. The trees are not twigs now, although they were a couple of years ago, but they are not a generous orchard of quince and cherry and damson, with two gorgeous gnarled mulberries near the house. That is in my head.

I have extended a yew hedge in the kitchen garden and we have planted mixed native edible hedging in the field. This is not a great green wall, like the old hedge in front of the sunny bank. It is a narrow line of green twiggy stuff, with some rosehips which bow the plants heavily down, some hawthorn, some blackthorn and some hazel. All in my head, all in my head.

There are weeds in abundance every where: nettles, dandelions, cow parsley, docks. There is mown grass too, and beds of chard and beans and marigolds and apples weighing down the trees, but it is not tidy. It is not under control. It is all a dream or a mess - I hardly know which.

I have been out deadheading and will pick sweetpeas. Perhaps the sun will shine. I hope so.


  1. I think one can spend a lifetime planning out the garden of their dreams but at the end of the day, there will always be something they will want to change. I look on gardening as a tapestry of my life. Some parts you have to unpick and re-do again, whilst others applaud your efforts and show their gratitude.

  2. I could not work myself to death and then sit back and enjoy. I would be passed out. I cannot do what I used to do.

  3. A garden is constantly moving and changing.
    My garden would fit into yours many times over but I like to sit and plan.......!

  4. Yes, but you are getting there! Do hope the visit from Zoe goes well. I am sure you of all people have no need to worry. How should we feel if ever you come to visit us! What I wonder would you say about my overgrown patch which grows more unkempt by the day. One day you are on top of it and the next you are thinking you will wait until it all dies back in winter. I blame the rain.

    Another great and lovely evocative blog. No wonder you are a finalist. Can I vote?

  5. aren't gardens great? i am no gardener. i plant stuff that requires no work. doug says my garden is like my hair--rather wild and out of control.

    our neighbor has a beautiful formal garden. she spends hours and hours sitting on the grass doing something subtle--pulling tiny invisible weeds, maybe?

    both gardens are lovely but in such different ways.

  6. How lovely.

    I'm sure you'll both have a fabulous time. Enjoy yourselves and do give Zoe my love :)

  7. I loved your line "..a generous orchard of quince and cherry and damson, with two gorgeous gnarled mulberries near the house. That is in my head" because I have a garden in my head too. It bears no resemblance at all to the mossy, rocky patch under the trees. I'm sure Zoe will be enchanted by your location, and that the gardening conversation will be the important thing - and who wouldn't be thrilled to see that hillside location?

  8. I rather prefer native and a bit wild to formal and manicured. I am sure I'd love your garden. I wish I could call mine a garden; it's really just landscaping around the edges of the yard and plants popped into containers.

  9. MH - I like the idea of a garden as a tapestry!
    Qmm- I flag a bit too now and then.
    MM - yes, my garden is never finished, or not even started much!
    Fennie - thanks so much. I don't think there is voting. It is all a bit opaque to me.
    Laurie - I do so agree that there are different ways of gardening. no point in trying the formal manicured way up here!
    VP - really looking forward to walking and talking with Zoe (when not suffering from faint embarrassment about the mess!).
    Glad to know I am not the only one gardening in my head Pondside.
    Kim - I think it is the energy and love that goes into a garden which makes it grow. Yours looks lovely.

  10. You know, don't know, that gardening is very much a work in progress. No gardener I know is ever happy with what they've got but most of us fall back on the old excuse "you should have seen it last week/month/year". I do as much as I can - with the help of trusty gardener, an old cowman who comes more or less regularly and charges me almost nothing.
    What I can't manage, and there's a lot of that nowadays, simply doesn't get done.
    True, it breaks my heart, but I have to live with that.

  11. stupid me again, that should be 'don't you'.
    I will certainly come back and read your comments on comments.

  12. Hope that you enjoyed your visit from Zoe and that the rain clouds held off. Your bookshelves sound like mine. Have you read Mirabel Osler's " A Gentle Plea For Chaos'. If not I think that you would enjoy it. In answer to your last comment on my blog, I live more or less halfway between Chester and Liverpool, in the less scenic reaches of Halton :) Your location sounds idyllic.

  13. Your garden sounds just lovely. We should remember that those great gardens that we love so much usually have a team of gardeners whose only job is to keep them perfect by doing constant battle with Nature!

  14. Of course "It is not under control." If it were, it wouldn't be natural, and would take WAY too much work, given your circumstances. So, keep on having fun, and see what develops.

    For the record, our garden has been demolished by our new puppies. I guess gardens and puppies don't co-exist. (I've got pictures on my blog to prove it!)

  15. Please give Zoe a big hug from me.

    I hope you have a wonderful time meeting another great blogger (and writer) in person.

    Lucy Corrander

  16. That sounds the perfect garden to me - who wants it to be perfect - weeds are only flowers growing in the wrong place . I think you are right to propagate from what is growing well - I found that too here in North Yorkshire - many of the plants I thought would do well were not hardy enough for up here.
    Happy gardening and enjoy your meeting.

  17. Friko - ah, I see you understand! I don't actually want things to be too tidy but there are things undone that break my heart too, but needs must!
    Anna - wonderful to meet Zoe, and she was very kind! You are not far away at all. Perhaps we should emulate Karen and Helen and meet up!
    Rachel - you are so right. I was stunned to learn that Bodnant has over 20 gardeners, never mind the volunteers.
    Rob bear - I shall make that my mantra, if it were too tidy it wouldn't be natural!
    3C - yes, really great to meet Zoe who I have known virtually for a while.
    Weaver - the propagating from what is happy here really works well. It sounds as though you need things to be pretty hardy for you too!

  18. Ah, now you know how I felt when you were coming to see MY garden!
    Give my love to Zoe.
    I'm sure she thinks it's completely gorgeous.

  19. The nice thing about gardeners is that they are never critical. They all know how much work it takes and how nature can undermine the best laid plans, and hedges. I expect you will have a lovely time and she will be awed by what you have achieved!

  20. I think your either are or aren't a gardener - born one, so to speak. And you are one of those; you will always have a wonderful changing evocative garden space around you.

    My mother was a gifted gardener - I'm not! I love to grow vegetbles, I love to feed my family and friends - but I'm not a gardener. For me it's the wild natural plants and trees that thrill - so I guess that's why I farm as I do!

  21. I'm sure there was a very fertile meeting of garden minds, not to mention great conversation!

  22. Kitty - Zoe was lovely about it as you say!
    Welsh girl - yes, gardeners are very nice people in my experience. They know what it is like to dream, fall slightly short and dream again the next year.
    paula - oh I think if you grow vegetables you are a gardener. I love functional gardening which is not too far from farming, maybe.
    Chris - yes, great conversation. It has been a real pleasure to meet Zoe.

  23. Hello it was lovely to see you and i hope you had a lovely B/day xx.
    And your gardens gorgeous ..


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