Friday, 10 May 2013

Coming back to the garden

I never garden in winter.  I can't really see the point of winter gardens with dogwoods and snowdrops even though I have plenty of both.  In winter I come inside and read and knit and crochet and write.  I hate getting cold and wet in the garden and I quite like it every year when the time comes when everything stops growing and there is nothing I can do.  It is done for another year.  Close the door, light the lamps, pull your chair to the fire.

This year however I have turned my back on the garden in a big way.  Usually in winter I do at least some thinking and dreaming.  By January I am starting to engage with the idea of gardening and I might read about gardens or spend time making up plant lists or musing about what to do in one area or another.  This year I did none of that.  I had lost my gardening mojo.  I had fallen out of love.

I think there were two strands to that.  One was the extent to which over the late summer and autumn I had begun to feel deeply unsettled and "out of place".  That is principally to do with my father's increasing ill health and my own desire to be part of what happens to him and my mother as they face this stage of life.  I can see that my presence helps them, both practically and emotionally, and living five or six hours away I was constantly aware of the tug of love and guilt and the need to be somewhere else.  It is hard to garden with passion when you feel like that.  That has settled down to some degree as we have found ways of supporting them that depend on significant scheduled visits rather than daily proximity.  The other strand was a gardening reason.  I am very aware that what I call a garden is really a field with some very early planting in it.  I feel my way towards what I am trying to create.  Mostly my vision holds strong enough for me to be able to see it even when others can't, with the occasional patch when the whole thing blurs and melts like running wax.

Three things happened last year which challenged my sense of what we are making and which made any claim to vision seem ludicrous.  The first was a visit to Beth Chatto's garden which I blogged about here. This really rocked me by making me feel that my garden was not a  place to walk into. I realised that there was not enough enclosure and that in embracing the openness of my hillside and the beauty of the views I was in danger of creating a vantage point, not a place to wish to be in for its own sake.  Partly in response to that I set to work to produce an area of meadow to walk into.  You would not believe the work I put into that.  Creating an annual meadow is not for the faint hearted.  I dug and raked and attacked perennial weed and sowed and watered and dug up docks.  The result was deeply, unsettlingly mixed.


Some parts were just glorious.  Some parts were just a mess of docks and couch grass.  I did not take any photos of those bits but there was way too much mess for the effect I wanted.  So I came towards the end of summer knowing that I needed to do something different but not really knowing what it was.  And then the third thing happened.  Ian and I went to visit Veddw, the garden created by Anne Wareham and Charles Hawes on the Welsh borders near Monmouth.  I loved Veddw.  I slipped into it like a fish into water or a swallow into air.  I felt very much at home in it.  The hillside site, the dense, lush planting, the sharp lines of the hedges and the overflow of self sown plants all contributed to a feeling that this was what I was trying to do: to create a place which could be nowhere else, which was a hymn to the place, a world founded in a place.  Anne and Charles could not have been more hospitable.  Veddw could not have been more beautiful.

It took a couple of months after we got home for the experience to begin to take shape in my head and what took shape was a slow and sad realisation that what I am producing here is not a garden, not as Veddw is a garden, not the garden I had in my head.  What I am doing here has no cohesion.  While the side garden has its own beauty and the kitchen garden its own functional charm, the field which we have slowly and laboriously brought into cultivation is not yet a garden.  The little orchard works.  Today, full of daffodils and early leaf, it is a good place to be as the trees begin to establish.


At certain times of year the cutting garden is a paintbox of colour.  Where we have created totally new planting, like the long bed in the lower part of the field which we call the native tree bed, the planting is, I think, good.  I am good at repetition and flow and at propagating and creating new plants that will fill emptiness on a scale which still daunts me after years of city gardens.  But there is no doubt that the most beautiful thing in this garden is the view and always will be and somehow the shapes I am trying to paint on the landscape are not producing that powerful sense of a heightened world which comes to you in the best gardens, which came to me standing in the Gravel Garden at Beth Chatto's, amidst the topiary at Levens Hall and looking down from the inscribed seat across the grasses and hedges of Veddw.

So I went away all winter and hid.  As spring came I wrote to Anne whose thoughtful, careful reply gave me much to think about.  Ian made me a willow hurdle for the side of the compost heap which once again proved that the functional can be beautiful.  Now I am not quite sure what to do.  Do I want to abandon my idea of creating something here?  No I don't, although I might have to accept that it will be a series of smaller creations rather than a world of its own.  It is quite likely that I simply do not have the wherewithal in time and talent to create something on the scale which I imagine.  I emerged after a long cold spring and found that the daffodils in the orchard and round the swing lifted my heart.  I laboured over planting them for three successive autumns and suddenly this year they were everywhere just as I had imagined.  I find I can't give up the idea of my garden even though part of me would like to throw in the towel, so I am feeling  my way towards something, although it may be something different to what I had imagined.

The key I think is in the meadow in the bottom third of the field.  At the top of the field you need to let the view sing and we have taken out some tree growth as Anne suggested so from the high point the view across the valley to the farms and the hillforts is king.  In the middle section the orchard and the cutting garden and the vegetable plots provide a unity which is functional and satisfying and which in a way is quite true to the people we are and the interests we share.  But in the bottom third of the garden you have the chance to lose the glorious tyranny of the view.  If I can find a way of walking into it, of getting lost in it, then I might be able to make the whole garden make more sense.  Last year it didn't work but I might have done it wrong.  It is a huge task.  There are docks galore this year, making much of the area a scruffy wasteland.  At the moment you can see all of last year's disaster, squared, and none of the small scale triumph.  The native tree bed runs along parallel to the boundary hedge and is full of lovely things but it looks adrift from the rest of the garden as it has since it was dug and planted three years ago.  A proper deep meadow with waist high grass and wide paths might be the answer.  Or it might not.  Karen came today and reminded me gently that she has been coming for most of the time we have been trying to make a garden and can see quite how much we have done.  I couldn't quite engage with her properly about it but she did cheer me up.

The jury is out.  I have sown poppies on the fire sites.  We have put Round Up on the docks.  I am digging up dandelions in the cutting garden.  I am feeling my way.  We can always put the whole thing back to grass and bring in sheep.

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?
"   Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto", line 98.

59 comments:

  1. Dear Elizabeth - may be the task you are setting yourself is just too big. I am trying to imagine your site from your description - perhaps you should just embrace your wonderful views - make an interesting seating area where you can enjoy it with a glass of wine and nibbles on a summers evening.

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    1. I think you may well be right Rosemary! I am trying to ensure that I am not so focussed on what I would like to make here that I don't enjoy what I have. I do enjoy it, and the glass of wine too.

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    2. Oh Elizabeth! I don't know whether to be reassured or worried! here I sit on my Welsh hillside, just outside Monmouth, thinking about visiting Veddw, after having laboriously planted our wildflower Meadow, which is now looking rather scrubby to say the least. I keep telling myself it will get better but I'm not sure it will....... How depressed will Veddw make me?

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    3. No no, it won't depress you. Do go. It will fascinate and move you.

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  2. Never enough time .... and always so much ... too much to do! I just try to enjoy what I have ... my little piece of green ... I try and remember the days I had bit a backyard and some pots ... I yearned for a garden ... any garden.
    You are having a doubtful time ... let the flowers lead you.

    Take care x Vicky

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    1. That is a good reminder Vicky. It is odd how our ambitions change as we achieve them! Part of the human condition again I suspect.

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  3. We don't garden much in the winter either - on a north-facing hill, it's just too wet. We have a garden that likes to look semi-wild, with lots of ferns, so we've gone with that, and also with a limited colour scheme to offset all the green. I think that imposing one's will on a garden only works in particular situations (like on TV???). Didn't Beth Chatto's garden evolve because of the only plants which would grow in her conditions?
    My brother has about 10 acres, and has tried several approaches to extend his garden into the fields, but with limited success. Nature seems too keen to regain cleared ground. Welsh rain doesn't help!

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    1. It is tricky isn't it? I suppose there is an element of imposing one's will. That has not been how I have seen it. I would wish what I am doing to work with what wants to happen here. Certainly when I have tried to grow things that the ground doesn't want to grow it is simply a waste of time and everything dies.

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  4. I find that as I get older each year I have more difficulty getting back into the garden after the winter and my patch is not very large. Mainly with me it's the physical effort of the bending and stretching needed to weed and plant.
    My grandfather, who was a nursery gardener and still working in other people's garden in his 80's died in the process of pruning his roses. What a lovely way to go! And every year he planted seeds as though he expected that he was going to be around to see them grow and flower.
    Perhaps it is time to move on and pursue other interests - that's allowed, I think.

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    1. Oh too hard! Yes to the living in the moment which made your grandfather prune each rose as if he would live for ever. Other interests? I don't know. Change is allowed. Ambition is allowed. I don't know.

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  5. Hooray for those daffodils - this year we all needed something to lift our spirits. Don't beat yourself up too much - you have achieved a great deal. Each time I visit there always seems to be something new to see.

    Gardening seems to be almost as much about time as it does about planting - time to let things grow, time to get things wrong and time to start again. Somewhere amongst all that are the precious few moments when everything is perfect. (And there will have been some of those) For me - and probably for you too as we are trying to achieve much the same sort of thing at the same sort of altitude - it's the unrealistic task of taming a mountainside.

    Equally, this year, I am hugely dis-satisfied - not so much with my shapes and structures but with my planting and its maintenance. This year I'm taking a pragmatic approach - the aforesaid shape and structure will come to the fore and the fussy high maintenance stuff will be minimal. I want to enjoy the space I have, not be a slave to it.

    That said - that's no answer to your dilemma. I feel that a way of tying in that 'bottom third' will be found - though perhaps it will always be a space to travel through to other things. Maybe you need a metaphorical bridge, door or gate. I like the idea of a trip round the garden as a journey....but will bore you with that another day.

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    1. Thank you. I do think we are doing something similar although your structures are clearer and tighter than mine. I am relieved to find I am not the only one "hugely dissatisfied". I like the journey. I think about the experience of the garden as a journey quite often.

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  6. I recognize the frustration you're feeling, which means that I can also recognize its potential productivity. . . This frustration and mulling and fretting and dreaming, getting closer then further then closer again to what you don't quite know what you want . . . it's a process, isn't it, a garden, a wonderful intersection of time and space, and yours is at a fascinating stage. I find the way you write about your disappointments, dreams, analysis of what works and what doesn't really engaging and look forward to reading and seeing more.

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    1. I do identify strongly with "the getting closer, then further, then closer". Yes!

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  7. Elizabeth, I write this as a person whose NYC windowsills only allow the least demanding potted plants to survive.

    And yet, I do dream of future gardens I may never see, and of past gardens that I loved, in childhood and early adulthood. I've got a gap in down to the earth true experience, yet my yearning is strong, and my appreciation of what others have done and now do and wish to do in the future in the garden is lively.

    I love the idea of a single seed germinating, or an established plant being separated to create more life. On a much more macro scale, gardening can become sculpture and painting all combined.

    It's such a pleasure to read all your posts. Whether they focus on gardening or knitting or career changing. You write well, and really do let the rest of us into parts of your life that do seem to connect with our own.

    So many very well established gardens the world over were begun by folks who did not get to see the beauty that we enjoy. Yet, surely they enjoyed the seasons they shared with the earth and the plants.

    xo

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    1. Oh you are so right. That one can establish a garden and not see it. That is especially true when what is planted is trees. Thank you.

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  8. I can understand how daunting it must be to make such a huge area into something cohesive. Little by little, step by step is the ony way I am sure you will get there in the end. The daffodils look lovely around the trees.

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    1. Little by little feels manageable as you say. The problem is when I know that at least the vision needs to be large!

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  9. Elizabeth your posts always humble me. Because I see in them so much of what lies on the other side of the mountain. You make me wonder now whether the Elizabeth I created in Boraya might be a gardener, though I suspect she isn't and in any case gardening out on the frozen Gulf of Finland would be even harder than on your hillside. I have an annual fight with the vegetation; that is my gardening, though I have actually created this year what I call my eclectic garden which was a dead and sunless area underneath a conifer. Then I had some concrete blocks to make a border and then a lot of garden waste and then some compost and into and on to this improbable bed I plant any old rubbish. Potatoes that have sprouted, onions ditto, leeks that have gone brown. Houseplants that would otherwise go to meet their maker; a redundant Bay tree. Exhausted rosebushes. Amazingly they are all, pretty much thriving in their gloomy darkness. A living compost heap. I think it is gratitude at being saved from the pot or the chop. Otherwise it will be geraniums and nasturtiums again this year and maybe the odd and errant foxglove and for greenery the exploding medlar. Who needs more?

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    1. Love the idea of the exploding medlar! I also have errant foxgloves by the score.

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  10. What an interesting post, and having seen your garden I can understand your dilemma. I lost my mojo for a while, too - I think that's sometimes inevitable. I also think it's not really a loss of mojo but more like the incubation period you have to go through before starting a new book. You may not even be doing anything conscious about it, but nonetheless something constructive is going on underneath.

    I agree about the three levels of the big area very much, but IMO that bottom part is the only really problematic area - the other, smaller, walled or otherwise divided-off parts of the whole garden work really well. Have you thought about extending that principle and creating another garden 'room' at the bottom, perhaps with native hedging (informal)? Meadows are a partial solution but I don;t think they're easy by any means plus you've tried one there, and I think you've got your very successful meadow effect in the orchard anyway. Edit the orchard by adding extra bulbs, planting, perhaps?

    Just let your thoughts bubble away, because I'm sure there IS a solution, and I think you're feeling your way towards it....

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    1. I hope there is some incubating going on. It is interesting to have the perspective of someone who has seen the garden. Thank you.

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  11. It seems to me that you are being far too hard on yourself. I wouldn't underestimate the energy-draining situation your are in (I've had some experience of your situation with elderly relatives) - it isn't just a physical thing, it's mentally draining too, like a record playing constantly in the back of your mind. So my biggest recommendation is simply to take things very slowly indeed - after all the garden isn't going away and it should be a place that helps to restore your spirit, not add to your burden.

    It also seems to me that people create gardens for a whole load of different reasons - all perfectly and equally valid - but different. And what I wonder is if perhaps with so much going on, you've lost sight of is what it is that YOU want from and for your garden. You've seen some remarkable gardens which part of you has responded to - perhaps it would help to relax a little and try to distill the feelings from these that mean most to you and then perhaps your mind will show you how you can achieve those sensations in your garden - inspiration from others is good, but comparison is pointless because everyone starts from a different place.

    If what you eventually decide requires loads of time, money and manpower, great, you'll just have to plan accordingly, but you might find that you can start to have some of what you need on a smaller scale. Try and hold on to what the essence of a garden is for you and then I'm sure you'll see a way forward - but go slowly, the brilliant thing about gardeners is that they go on forever - you have time.

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    1. I think your point about the garden being a restorative place is an interesting one. You are right of course. I have some of that but if all I focus on this year is increasing the number of places in my garden which work like that I would be moving things in the right direction.

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  12. Feeling your way is probably the best way, and your garden, YOUR garden will emerge, is emerging.

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    1. You are right of course. I could just do to be younger!

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  13. Perhaps you are being a litle hard on yourself, step by step and see what happens! I don't have a garden though and I so wish I did! x

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    1. Being reminded that not everyone has a garden is a good thing!

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  14. The trouble with us gardeners is that we are never satisfied with what we create. Gardening is all about pleasure and joy and it so often doesn't seem like that at all which is a great pity. Also, of course, you have been under great stress and pressure with your father's ill health which is bound to affect your thoughts about everything.

    The secret is not to be over ambitious. Your garden with its views is always going to be grand scale and needs to be embraced knowing that the garden will always enhance the view and not the other way around, which is as it should be. It sounds to me as if it is coming on just fine - it can't be achieved overnight unless you have a host of gardeners and a big bank account!

    Take lots of photographs straight away - especially of all the bad parts - for they will act as real inspiration later on and remind you of just how far you have come.

    I come across issues like this regularly in my work as a country gardener. A book I've written that covers so many of the points you have raised is published this month - as your blog isn't here to promote myself, you'll have to do a search to find out more about it!

    Happy gardening and don't give up

    John

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    1. Thank you for taking the trouble to comment here John. I appreciate it. I also very much like the idea of taking photos of the bad bits which is the opposite of what I am inclined to do! And I don't have a host of gardeners of a large bank account so nothing will happen overnight!

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  15. I don't garden in winter either. I have to enjoy gardening and I wouldn't in winter weather. And I also created a wild flower meadow area but after hard work it actually took two years to flower, looked fabulous for one year and then was disappointing last year. It needs so much work. Perhaps you just need more time to reflect on your garden. I always feel a little under pressure at this time of year to "get the garden right for the summer", forgetting that I will never achieve everything I want.

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    1. You are right that there is a pressure in this time of year. I also agree about meadows - not as simple and beautiful to produce as they look!

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  16. Elizabeth, I first visited your hill of sticks (your words not mine!) 3 years, 1 month and 22 days ago - a very short time in the life of a garden. I have loved visiting you over the past 3 years and your garden is slowly but surely evolving into the space that you talked about on that first visit. The "sticks" are now a glorious hedge full of native plants, the stand of silver birches assure an elegant copse in only a few more years. The new planting of amelanchiers holds the promise of a graceful sort of enclosure for the shepherds hut.

    While your view asks the eye to look up and out - your "field" (which is now more garden than field) asks the body to walk - to walk over and stroke the silver birch to exclaim at the amelanchier in the mixed hedging to photograph the slowly unfurling leaves of your native trees, to stroll alongside the new bed, and note a colour combination, or plant combination that works really well.

    The passion for our gardens must ebb and flow as the garden, and our lives ebb and flow and although only part of your vision for the bottom third worked last year, that is not to say your vision for that bit is wrong or flawed .... perhaps it just needs a little more mulling over and experimentation and I think the things you talked about yesterday will really work (Once those pesky docks are out of the picture).
    It is always a joy to visit and watch first hand the evolution of your garden.
    K
    xx

    PS Humm - have you changed something in your settings, I can only leave a comment with my google account not my website .... it is so long since I left a comment :(

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    1. Ah thank you Karen. I am intrigued by your description of the garden as a place to walk and I think you are right. I must think about that a bit more!

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  17. As you know I think, I 've taken on a similar task, but here in Italy, where we have extremes of weather. Here are a couple of priorities I've set myself, suffering and enjoying the same "tyranny of the view". In brief, make things big and low, don't worry about gardening in the sense of creating beds of colour where the view is competing, only where you can turn your back on the view. Keep detail, some enclosure, and proper gardening round the house, otherwise corral the sheep (in my case donkeys) and use them to make some big curvy effects of shorter grass, to pick up on the views. I haven't done it yet, but thats my plan. Wherever I can find a bit of view I want to block I'll put trees, fortunately we have an industrial estate glinting away on one side so I hope to block that bit out.

    Veddw uses the hedges to drain the intensity down towards the house, but is not dominated by the views unless you get up around the edges, that's the benefit of not having a house high up. Paths and journeys are very important to get that feeling of going into something, but elaborate gardening far from a house can feel a bit unmoored. I have thought for some time that annual meadows are a snare and a delusion unless you have agricultural machinery. No wonder after this winter, and your father, and last years disappointment with the annuals, you feel a bt defeated. i'll be the same I'm sure when it all goes pear-shaped, as it surely will. It will come back, it always does in my experience.

    Sorry to say my next post was going to be on this very subject - the views bit anyway. I'll still do it, but I'm not copying,honest!

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    1. I am interested to know you are blogging about the same thing - I will be right over!

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  18. I am the wrong person to offer advice of any kind ... I don't garden. I love to visit gardens but were I to own a patch of land bigger than a pocket handkerchief I would create a kitchen garden, an orchard, and a wild wood ... it's in such places that my heart belongs. As it is I have the tiniest garden imaginable, a large part of which is paved because that's easier with the whippets, so the space you have seems like heaven to me.

    But I don't envy you the mammoth task, or the internal battle you seem to be waging, which dare I suggest is in part impatience ... I wonder what the gardens you mention looked like 3 years in! "Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines" ... no idea who said that but it works for me :)

    Oh, and what Frances said ... such wise words.

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    1. Perhaps I just need to slow down a bit. Your ideal garden sounds a bit like this one, when it works!

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  19. It sounds pretty normal to me, but then our gardens share some similarities, despite the very different locations. You, with your hillside vantage point, and I with my woodland ponds. I was so anxious not to impede the view over the ponds and the feeling of being in the forest that I have accomplished little of any interest - we walk on woodland paths that have nothing to offer beyond being in the woods. You seem to have picked up your gardening mojo for now - it's a long and drawn out process, isn't it?
    My moment was visiting Mountainear's garden last September - came away feeling that I lived in a wilderness!

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    1. Ah, hills, views, ponds and woods. Perhaps we should just leave nature to get on with it!

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  20. I started out here with a grand vision and quickly became disillusioned by how little I had achieved. So I shifted from macro to micro and started on a much smaller area close to the house. Motivated by that, I have now begun to extend outwards. It sounds a bit uncoordinated and I suppose that is the risk, but at the moment it is working for me.

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    1. I started near the house too and began to move out. Perhaps I moved out too quickly!

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  21. Your first paragraph could be written about me! It is not easy when you have a garden of any size and the gardening mojo goes on holiday (where mine is right now) but be not hard on yourself! I get shocked when people say how lovely my small garden looks (to them, but not to me) so it is very much in the eye of the beholder. I have reached the conclusion that it will all be there, couch grass, dock, and brambles, when the mojo returns, and think of my space as very wildlife friendly these days . . and when life gives you dandelions, make wine!

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    1. now we certainly do wildlife friendly!

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  22. Huge garden, lots of work, lots of other pressures on your time. Rome wasn't built in a day, and your garden won't be either. How long have all those gardens you visited been maturing for?

    I think that lot's of us lost our mojo early last year due to the dreadful weather, and it has been hard work getting it back. Again, that damned rain and cold.

    I have only seen your garden three times, but I found plenty to admire and ideas to pinch! I love pulling up docks, couch crass and such. Great satisfaction in getting the roots up whole. Wish I could come and spend a week on my hands and knees helping. Does your local scout group want to earn it's gardening badge!!

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    1. Well I have a whole range of weeds you could help with! How are you on bindweed? x

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  23. In my opinion, just keeping a property as large as that MOWED is a huge accomplishment - nevermind all the cool stuff you've got growing there! Forget about that Chatto woman and keep on doing your own thing - it's fabulous!

    P.S. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! (US version)

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    1. Ah well I have to confess that the mowing is not my territory! I specialise in the cool stuff, sometimes.

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  24. Beangenie is right about incubating. Have you looked at James' Federal Twist Garden? Something quite different and distinctly of its place. Be careful what you wish for - too much borrowed scenery! But your hillside header used to draw a deep sigh of satisfaction each time I visited your blog.

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    1. I do read James at Federal Twist and often muse about what he is making there. I am so glad you love my view. So do I. I would turn my back on the garden if that is what I had to do to keep the view.

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  25. Hi Elizabeth, whilst I was seeing you in Malvern having a nice day out with gardening ladies with your nice pinky hair and a list of plants to buy there, I see that you are a bit in struggle with your dream. I so can understand!
    I spent now some time reading backwards on what you were up to and admire your engagement on this 1£ effort. It would not happen to me to try that out because of a challenging moment in my life when I was without work but had two children, a horse, a dog and two cats to feed... And none of us starved.
    The garden: me too, I turned my back to it the year before when my dear MIL was so poorly. Long absences in the growing season do not good to any garden. And this year, I started so very late due to horrid weather conditions - same as in your area I presume - and then everything happens at the same time and one has not enough hands and daylight to finish every day's task. Ideally, I should have a small plot, size of my front garden would be enough and then I might be satisfied with its aspect. We always compromise now. It starts with the fact that EG is still working full time and spent the last moments at home only with mending things. Everything seems to be broken over winter. Then I am alone to fight over creeping buttercups, nettles, dandelions, these nasty velcro herbs, the list is endless and it is everywhere! I have even bindweed appearing now, where does this come from?
    I gave up. I have turned my ambitions down and accept that it cannot be immaculate unless I get every day 1 or 2 people full time to help, which is not on. My problem is, that the more gardens I see, the more ideas I get and I dream to integrate those lovely bits into my garden and I tend to permanently change things.
    But I admire you how determined you are and am sure, you will arrive! Because once the structure is clear, it gets easier. Compromise between what can be realised and what is purely very nice but too labour intensive. For me, gardening must be leisure and therapeutic but it must not start to dominate my life as before my paid work did.

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    1. Such a balance bayou. A degree of obsessiveness is necessary to make anything. But if it is not a pleasure then what is it?

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  26. Elizabeth, please let me help if I can. Here or at yours. And if you want, of course. XXX

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    1. Thank you Anne. I would really value talking to you. It might have to be at yours until I recover my nerve!

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  27. Hi Elizabeth, a bad moment could happen, with everything. There was a moment in my life I stop gardening and thinking about gardening for some years, I had my reasons and I see that as a kind of auto-protection (I didn't have a garden) set by my mind. You started this post with rather negative mood, while I was thinking 'hey but her garden looks great', then you started analyzing your place, ask yourself questions and gave yourself the right answers. I bet the jury was out, the jury was you and you judge already, you even have all the solutions at your reach, maybe you just don't want to grab them yet.
    The beautiful view you have from your garden MUST be part of your garden design, THAT is your Genius Loci and I think you shall respect it, indulge on it rather than seeing it like some kind of obstacle in applying someone else's rules or designs. You died your hair a little the other day but you didn't think to bear a black haired wig, did you? That's what, I think, you shall do with your garden too.
    Alberto

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    1. I agree totally about the Genius Loci but it is surprisingly difficult to integrate it with a more inward view.

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  28. The problem with gardening is that the fruits of your labours are only really evident after such a long while. I'm always astonished by how mature, and somehow settled, my London garden now looks after 22 years. But it has taken the same time as for my children to grow up to get to this point. In Somerset I was just so lucky to have 28 years of someone else's efforts passed on to me when I moved in. I hope this doesn't sound disheartening. I don't mean it to – I'm writing this in full admiration of your plans and vision. I just think that it's very hard to hold onto it all, through all the uncertainty, when the rewards are slow in coming. I hope you don't throw in the trowel but that you get the joy of the creation of your garden back, whatever you decide to do with it. And if you need some time away from it to attend to more pressing things, then it will still be there waiting for you when you return.

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    1. You are right about time. If only I had it!

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  29. Oh I can so relate to this post! On a much smaller scale I have a walled garden that was a sheep pen and silage pit for many ears prior to my arrival. Add to that it is 50 yards from the sea so everything has to deal with salt, sand AND wind.... I too just focus on a summer garden (it's to the side of the house so I don't see it in winter anyway). And I'm planting trees, some shrubs and mostly perennials. But it all takes so LONG and my "vision" sucha as it is, rarely works out so although I love my garden, I lack the patience to wait, and I tinker....sigh..... Your variety of gardens sound gorgeous, and I wish you patience for your meadow!

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I really love to know what you think and to have the chance to start a conversation. I always try to respond (although sometimes it might take me a day or two to get to you) either here or by visiting you.