Timehop informed me yesterday morning that it was a year ago to the day that my gardening adventure properly started. We moved into our house and had our very own garden for the first time ever in September 2014 so you might think that the adventure started then, but it didn’t, not really. We dabbled a bit. We kept the lawn mowed, we kept on top of the weeding (after a fashion) and we did acquire a couple of new plants but the garden had been so neglected by the previous owners and their tenants that it had become very overgrown. I used to go out there with the intention of tackling it, but once I was out there it was incredibly daunting and I just didn’t know where to start so I’d come back in deflated and defeated. We used to joke that there could be an Aboriginal family living down the end of the garden and we’d be none the wiser!
That all changed after we decided to bite the bullet and pay someone to come and undertake a bit of deforestation. I don’t generally advocate the cutting down of trees, but in this case it was very necessary, and didn’t actually involve the cutting down of many trees, merely hard pruning since, as it turned out, the trees were overgrown from our neighbour’s garden.
We went from this ….
… to this …
… all in the space of a day! The transformation inspired me. All of a sudden I could see how amazing our outside space could be. I started frequenting garden centres. A lot! I paid for a loyalty discount card for Notcutts and probably made my money back within a week! I discovered plant sale tables and I learnt what is and isn’t saveable. I set series record for Gardeners’ World and Love your Garden. I started a gardening folder to keep my plant labels safe and to jot down design ideas or plant care tips. I set reminders in my phone such as ‘cut fuschia back’ and ‘deadhead the roses’. The garden became my happy place.
I was thinking about this on and off all day yesterday and I decided to mark the day by deciding on my ten favourite plants and then this time next year, when I’ve had another year of discovering new plants and seeing what appears in the garden that I’ve forgotten I’ve planted, I can compare and see if today’s top ten are still my top ten. I’m not going to attempt to put them in order because I think I’d drive myself mad pondering their relative virtues, so I’ll just do it alphabetically!
Blue Festuca – I love the feel of this grass. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s a very touchy feely plant. It’s also very resilient.
Cordyline – I have two, a pink one which I’ve planted close to the house and a green one which is in my birthday planter. Did you ever put a thick piece of grass between your fingers when you were a kid and blow on it to make music? The Cordyline, with its lovely broad fronds, reminds me of doing that.
Daffodil – needs no explanation really! Beautiful in all its forms and makes me so happy when I see them starting to pop up because it means I’ve made it through another Winter!
Diascia Cherry Blossom – a little bit of Spring in the Summer and even through to the early Autumn. It waves its clusters of blossomy flowers at you for weeks before it settles in for the Winter.
Erysimum – this was another of my sale table finds and it had the odd flower all through Winter as it sat in its pot waiting for me to find it a home. Now it’s planted out it’s bursting with the most cheerful of blooms.
Eupatorium – I’ve harped on about my Eupatorium many a time. It does have white flowers in the late Summer and into Autumn, but it’s the leaves that really do it for me. The variety I have has the most gorgeous purple tinge which perfectly sets of the dark green majority. It actually made me gasp with joy when I saw it pushing its tiny shoots through ready for another growing season.
Fuschia – I’m pretty sure this will still be on my list in a year’s time because I’ve always loved them. They remind me of my Grandad who always had them in his garden. I like all varieties, and I had a purple one last year called Delta Sarah (which was supposed to be hardy but hasn’t come back this year) but my favourite is the stereotypical bright pink Fuschia.
Geum – again a sale table find. It had a couple of flowers left when I rescued it, but I wasn’t prepared for how happy it was going to look this year. It has bright orange flowers on long stems which rise above the cluster of leaves and wouldn’t fail to brighten anyone’s day.
Hebe – I have lots! I have to blinker myself in garden centres now to stop myself buying more! I have several varieties, but Purple Pixie was the first I got. It’s not flowering yet, but it’s over-wintered ok so I’m hopeful that it will. I have some with pink leaves as well that will hopefully provide some colour in the (bleak mid) Winter.
Stipa – my first two Stipa were probably the best bargains I’ve found. They were fifty pence each from B&Q and I’ve no idea why because there was (and still isn’t) literally nothing wrong with them. If I could’ve carried them I’d have bought more! These are those original two either side of the pink Cordyline. I’ve acquired more since, but not for fifty pence!
This is what the garden looks like currently, and the improvement is due, in no small part, to all the beauties above, alongside a fair bit of hard graft!
There’s still a way to go until we reach my vision of what it will look like, but it’s practically unrecognisable today from just over a year ago and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far.
Right, I’m off to put a reminder in my phone to do this exercise again on this date next year to see if my top have changed.