Well, we made it. I’ve been here for two weeks now, and finally have internet. Why, exactly, does it take so long? There are still boxes everywhere, a leaking roof to fix, ditto a dripping shower, and I have spent rather more time wrestling with labyrinthine telephone wiring and puzzling over plumbing than I have in getting properly acquainted with my new garden! But I don’t care, because I get to see this out of my bedroom window every day:

view from my bedroom window

Even on a wet or murky day it boosts my spirits – never in my wildest dreams did I dare imagine I would wind up living so very close to such a beautiful bit of coast. It makes a tremendous difference that, even if I am just walking up to the shops to pick up milk, I pass this:

Cemaes little beach

It makes an excellent escape from the chaos of moving, and although this blog will continue to be focused on my gardening adventures, I’ll post about the Island too, and not just because I think a sense of place is important in a garden.

But I digress. Although I got here first, to wave my hands around at the removals guys and at least attempt to get things approximately where they were due to go, my time here didn’t really begin until TNG arrived. He’d stayed behind for a few days, partly to make sure the most important things arrived in the first load, but also to wait for our lovely camper van, Cameron, to have his new coat of paint finished. Poor Cameron had been looking rather the worse for wear, and we feared we would have to sell him, but thanks to the generosity of family we were able to get him the tlc he needed to restore him to pristine condition. So I spent some time last week anxiously peering down the road from the front garden, hoping to see Cameron – and TNG – appear.

Cameron arrives in Cemaes

Such a welcome sight! And not just because TNG, who knows me so very well, had loaded Cameron with as many of my precious plants as he could fit in!

Cameron stuffed with plants

I was even more delighted to see him than the plants, honest…

With all the boxes to unpack and things to organise, I feel as if I have been snatching time to get to know the garden here. I haven’t even had my soil tester out, though I have run my fingers through the earth – well drained, slightly sandy, over clay. Like the house, the gardens are in need of a lot of TLC. At one time people with great passion gardened here, and there are some lovely plants, but many are now over crowded.

close quarters

When we moved to our previous house the garden was a completely blank slate, just ragged grass with a few shrubs and conifers crammed into the corners and around the edges. This is an entirely different prospect, a mature garden in need of renovation – and a certain amount of revolution! For instance, I am happy to accommodate the mophead hydrangeas in the front garden, they are such a part of coastal gardens like this, but I refuse to tolerate spotted laurel, and certainly not three of the blighters! I am itching to yank out the pieris too, I have always heartily disliked them, but I am also aware that I need to take my time, pick my battles. I want to prioritise restoring the view of the sea at the front, and establishing at least the beginnings of a kitchen garden at the back. And then, of course, there is this:

circle bed

A wonderful source of slate to be used elsewhere in creative ways, and some nice hebes lurking in amongst the bedding, but it has to go…

As I gradually win more time for myself I will introduce you to the various bits of garden in more detail – and beg for advice, and ask for help in identifying the many, many shrubs I find I know nothing about. I feel ignorant, excited, impatient, slightly daunted. But most of all, I feel deeply happy to have found myself living here, in such a wonderful place, with so much garden to play with.

P.S. Apologies for the broken archive widget, one of the updates seems to have played havoc with the layout and I haven’t had time to fix it yet…

66 thoughts on “Settling in

  1. Hi Janet,

    Glad to see you are settling in… Good luck with all the jobs; need to get some jobs done here too – still haven’t painted – but with the poor summer it’s never been warm enough for long enough to get painting and allowing it to dry with the windows open.
    I cannot blame you for ripping out the laurels – they were the first to go here, too. Your garden seems to be like most gardens found on the coast and I am sure you will have it looking more natural soon enough :)

    1. Hi Liz, not really a good year for outdoor painting, is it. Or anything else outdoor really, unless you are already guaranteed to be getting wet!

      Yes, the front garden in particular needs to loosen up and enjoy itself a little more… Pity hydrangeas are naturally so very stiff, they need a stiff pimms or two!

      1. Hi Janet,

        I need to power wash the wall and steps after all the cool, wet weather, sand them down and repaint. I also need to pain inside still and feel things need a spruce up – need kitchen re-doing, new doors etc. want to keep the nice oak worktop though.

        Have you considered getting some of the modern species of hydrangea? That way you’re still in keeping with surrounding gardens but there’s lots of nice creams and whites that aren’t quite so blousy these days.

  2. Oh Janet, what a lovely setting, I would be thrilled to wake up to that view every day as well. I love the hydrangeas in your new garden. Looking forward to hearing all about the garden and your new place. wow wow wow!!!

    1. Isn’t it fabulous?! Am looking forward to collecting seaweed from that beach to mulch the veg beds, once I have decided where they are going and built them!!

  3. Oh Janet is looks lovely – I think you have made a wise choice moving there. It is difficult to take things one step at a time when there is so much you want to change but you will get there eventually. Keep strong.

    1. Hi Elaine, it certainly feels like an excellent choice so far! Am doing my best to carefully prioritise what I get stuck in to, not least because I need to soak up the spirit of the place in order to work out what I really want to do out the front. Aside from getting rid of that circle bed…

  4. Yaaaaaaaaaay! Glad to see that you,TNG, plants and Cameron have made it safely to the other side. If Cameron made it up that hill he is a camper van for keeping. That view is glorious Janet. I imagine that you will never ever tire of it. Looking forward to seeing more glimpses of the garden in due course.

    1. Hi Anna, Cameron is doing us proud – and makes the postman smile, which can’t be bad! As for the view, at every state of tide and in all weathers, just wonderful, I am so very, very lucky.

  5. What a beautiful new home you have, Janet–that view is spectacular! You have some lovely plants here already to work with, and the best part is that this doesn’t all have to be done at once. You can take your time to think about how you want it to look and tackle one section at a time. Looking forward to seeing all your renovations of the garden!

    1. Hi Rose, you are absolutely right, there is plenty of time to take it patiently and get a feel for the place before I dive in. Well, apart from removing the hated spotted laurels and large conifers of course!!

  6. A garden came with your house on an island??? That is AMAZING to me!!! Living on an island is as fabulous as having a wonderful garden. I am so glad this opportunity came to you. :)

    1. I know, ridiculously wonderful isn’t it! I used to come here on holiday most years when I was growing up, so it has excellent associations for me. I can’t believe I have loads of garden and a house with a view.

  7. Incredible view! Glad you’re settling in, and that TNG and the van (and the plants) made it safely there. Inheriting a garden can be very rewarding, and challenging when you need to make changes. Removing invasive ground covers is, I think, my biggest challenge. But you have lots of great plants to work with, too. Congratulations!

    1. Most of my ground cover appears to be ivy, which at least is easy to pull up! It is a wonderful view, isn’t it, and there are lots of great plants, just frequently smothered by less desirable neighbours. I am excited by the challenge of getting to grips with it all, making it my own without ripping out too much and without losing the spirit of the place.

  8. I am glad you are settling in just fine, and very lucky you who gets a house with such a great view, and with beautiful hydrangeas. Are you sure you want to get rid of the slate circle bed? You could always put a giant set of clock hands in the middle so the whole island would know what time it is.

    1. Hi Les, I shall choose to ignore you constructive suggestion re the circle bed ;-) Us Island dwellers don’t want to know the exact time anyway! I am indeed extremely lucky, and the garden keeps throwing up interesting surprises too. Today I discovered a whole bunch of Ophiophogan hidden under a large shrub.

  9. Janet so glad to hear you are settling in and all seems to be moving along. It seems like heaven to gaze upon the sea every day. There is something so soothing about water and especially a coastal view. And the idea of walking to shop slows my pace and makes me feel somehow at peace not rushed jumping in and out of a car. Of course that all feels like a vacation but you are living there which is quite a different story.

    That is one big round planting bed. A bit too big. I can see why it has to go. I cannot wait to see more of your garden and hear more about your new experiences and plans.

    1. Hi Donna, it is magical being able to see the sea every day, and yes, walking to the shops to get milk has never been so pleasant! We are both feeling far more relaxed, and very happy. Sorry your comments got sent to spam – hopefully fixed now!

  10. So glad you and your plants arrived in one piece, you’re going to have a wonderful time sorting everything out. That beautiful view you have is so familiar, our friends house must be just around the corner, miss visiting since it was sold. We have caught many a little crab down among the rock pools! You know what they say about a new garden, wait a year before doing anything, you never know what it hiding under the soil, will you be able to wait that long, I don’t think so…enjoy!!

    1. How lovely that you know Cemaes! Sorry you don’t get to visit anymore. As to waiting the year, I am certainly aiming to wait until at least late Spring with most areas, concentrating on establishing the veg garden and getting rid of the known unwanteds without risking missing out on any bulbs that might be waiting to make themseleves known. However, I keep finding lovely little plants languishing in the shade of thuggish neighbours, so I will try to rescue some of them to re-use later.

  11. Hi Janet, glad to see that you have finally moved and settling in! It takes awhile indeed to get things sorted in a new place but you’ll eventually get there. And something to look forward to, getting stuck in with gardening. And wow, what a view! And yay for Cameron! Glad to know you got to keep him and he’s looking so well too :)

    1. Hi guys, we are continually forgetting where we put X, but know we found a really good place for it… The only place this doesn’t happen is the shed, which is fabulous! We really have landed on our feet, still feel a bit as if we are on holiday to be honest, will take a while for it to sink in that we are here for keeps.

  12. Welcome to your new home; …and that view, there is jsut something so wonderful about a sea view. I suspect it will bring salty wind but who cares, you’ll cope with it. Pauline’s right about waiting and actually I think you will manage to wait to see, even if you begin removing the things you hate. I’m really looking forward to seeing it all. Christina

    1. Hi Christina, there will be lots of “wait and see” combined with some removals and new plantings where e.g. spotted laurel offends the eye! It is one case where my poor health issues actually work in my favour, as I can’t just charge in and tear stuff up as perhaps I might have done years ago! And particularly in the front I need time to get the feel of what I want to do there. Mostly I am trying to work out where to plant raspberries and set up my veg beds, which should keep me quiet for a while…

  13. What part of the country are you in now – it looks stunning scenery. I am so jealous of your view. Personally I think you should keep the raised round bed for as long as possible to remind you of where you started from – only joking!!

    1. Hah! You are just jealous of my circle bed – I look forward to you describing creating your own ;-) We are in Cemaes Bay on Anglesey, wild and wonderful and so much quieter (and cheaper!) than Devon and Cornwall.

  14. I’m glad to move went well. One of the conundrums of modern life is why does connecting up the internet take so long.

    My dream is to live by the sea. I come from Cornish fishing village stock and I’m convinced in it’s in my blood, well that’s my story anyway. ;) so I am rather jealous of that view you now have.

    I’ve just done a post on taste in the garden and some aspects of your new garden would certainly fit in well with it. I agree with the slate island bed and pieris going. Never liked pieris.

    I’m so looking forward to following the progress of your new garden.

    1. Oh good, another pieris hater! Goodness, if you come from a Cornish fishing village you must really long for the sea. I grew up in the midlands, about as far from the sea as you could get, but have always loved it, just the glimpse of it fills me with joy. We came on holiday to Anglesey most years, camping, so in a sense coming to live here feels like coming home.

      Am off to read your taste post, it is definitely something I am pondering a lot at present!

  15. Hi Janet, well well, how lucky are you. A fabulous new garden to get acquainted with and a view that most of us can only dream about, I am truly very pleased for you. Cameron is not half looking spruced up. Spotted Laurel and Pieris! tut tut, two of my favourite plants.

    1. Hi Alistair, that’s what I love about gardening, one persons favourite plant is another’s pet hate, but we can all relate to the passion behind it. And yes, we are quite extraordinarily lucky, on so many levels, to have been able to move here. We still can’t quite believe it.

  16. Oh, it’s absolutely beautiful! What a view! Welcome to your new home and garden. What a treat we’ll have reading of your island adventures and garden transformation.

    1. Hi Cat, isn’t it? And it changes every day too, with different states of tide and weather. I am besotted with this place and can’t quite believe I get to stay here. I look forward to sharing my adventures!

  17. Always exciting to grab a new garden and see what you’ve bought. Plants you’ve always wanted; plants you’ve always not. But sometimes the latter worm their way into your heart. Sometimes. And if they don’t just lift your eyes out to that view. Dave

    1. Exaclty – for instance, I have a wonderful Sambucus nigra and there are lots of nice grasses hiddne away amongst the undergrowth. And thank goodness for the view, because when the spotted laurel gets too much I can escape!

    1. Thanks Sue, we are thrilled to be here, and there is so much garden to play with, I feel as if all my Christmases have come at once!

  18. Beautiful, a garden and home so in touch with the elements around it. Heh at the circular bed, though the slate is very beautiful. With hebes and hydrangeas shyly peeking out beneath the weight of their neighbours, waiting to be rescued, it’s lovely to have a relatively good framework to start work on, so that you can enjoy some of the existing features while reworking the rest. Exciting!

    1. Hi Sara, it is beautiful slate, in fact my second thought on seeing the bed in the property details was “I can use that”. I won’t repeat my first thought… And I am delighted to find so many hebes lurking around, though not all are going to be rescuable. The garden has good bones, the trick will be to feel my on what to work with and what to get rid of. Spotted laurel, for instance…

  19. How lovely to have a mature garden to play with and put your own stamp on. Looking forward to seeing more of it.

    1. Hi Lyn, thanks, it is a new kind of adventure for me, I’ve only ever started from scratch before. I am relishing the new challenge!

  20. Lovely to see that your move went smoothly. Like Welly, commenting above, I have the sea in my blood and have always lived by the sea until coming to London two decades ago. (Really must remedy that and move back!) I’m filled with envy at your sea view, I’d be down on that beach in a heartbeat… but a garden as well? Wow! what bliss! Looking forward to reading about progress as it happens; and the circular bed … I’d heave out those bedding plants and use it for the first year for herbs, at least until you know where to use the slate. :) xx

    1. Hi Caro, I never dreamed I’d get sea this close AND a decent sized garden. Something inside me is gradually relaxing more and more, sea air and those views? Hope you get to live by the sea again in the not-too-distant future. I can thoroughly recommend North Wales ;-)

      I suspect I am more likely to sow colourful annuals in that circle bed next year, and possibly add dahlias and have it as my mini cutting garden, until I settle on exactly where and how to use all that lovely slate. The thing that might drive removing it earlier rather than later is having to mow grass – so much of it! We already need more compost bins… Plus, it is such a waste of good growing space!

      1. I always see an expanse of grass as a waste of growing space! That thought crosses my mind every time I gaze out onto my parents large lawn – they have what Welly would call a ‘centrifugal garden’ with small shrub borders flung out to the edges of the lawn! I can’t help but imagine it covered in raised beds and beanpole wigwams! I like the sound of having a cutting garden in your raised circle; mulling over the possibilities, gazing out to sea, cup of coffee in hand – sounds perfect to me! xx

  21. Love that colour on Cameron. The view is great. Wondering if you’re going to incorporate elements of a seascape in your garden renovation?

    1. Hi b-a-g, we’re thrilled at how smart Cameron looks, and are glad we kept to his original colour. Interesting question about the seascape. It would be easy to head into cliche land and go for driftwood and old rope, the more interesting idea is to try and reflect the surroundings somehow. I have all that lovely slate to play with (or will have, once I have dismantled the circle bed), and the local granite on the beach is a beautiful green-grey. We can’t afford lots of gravel and large pieces of stone, but I’d love to have something that is clearly coastal, pays a certain amount of homage to the traditional coastal gardens, but which is wilder, and perhaps reflects the sea and sky in the foliage and flower colours, silvers, greys, blues. There again, I also long to plant lots of lovely hot sun-loving perennials of the kind I haven’t been able to grow in the past! Maybe I could keep those to the back… So many thoughts…

      Well, you did ask!

    1. Hi Damo, I am like a kid at Christmas, trying to work out which new toy to play with first! I am going to try to buy myself some time by sowing some edibles in empty or poorly used spots while I plot and plan.

  22. This is wonderful! Love the photo of the van piled high with transplants! I did this TWICE in one year when we sold the house, rented, and moved to our present home. It is an adventyure! Wasnt happy at the time, but don’t things have a way of working out? And what a glory to start a new garden – my favorite thing to do!

    1. Twice in one year?! *shudders*. I do love having a new garden to play with, will keep me busy for many years to come.

  23. It’s good to see that your move went okay!
    The hydrangea picture caught my eye, as did your comment about them.
    I look forward to future posts all about your new gardens, what’s in them and what your plans are. Take care, Flighty. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, yes, thank you, we are beginning to feel quite settled here. The hydrangeas do rather catch the eye, I’m sure you will be seeing plenty more of them in future posts!

  24. You are very lucky, a pretty garden and a pretty view. So much awaits with all those plants in the van. I would love that view you have. Just looking down the street to the water, what a great view.

    1. Hi Donna, I am indeed, the view is wonderful, and being able to stroll down the road and get sand between my toes is wonderful.

  25. Feel excited for you, Janet! Gorgeous views which as you say are important in the overall planning of the garden plot that belongs to.the landscape. My daughter has settled for a caravan but would be green with envy over Cameron- nice paint job. All good wishes for your new life here and a garden full of deams

    1. Hi Laura, I am really enjoying gradually getting a better feel for my new surroundings, nosing over people’s garden walls to see what they grow, drinking in the colours of the sea, cliffs, rock, sky, and seeing what grows wild in hedges and on the cliffs. Hope your daughter enjoys her caravan – not so useful when transporting plants back from the garden centre though!!

  26. Croeso i Gymru!

    Oh, Janet, your view is absolutely lovely, the garden will be even more wonderful once the pieris and spotted laurel (ergh) have gone, and the house will be fab too (even if it is inevitably somewhat chaotic at the moment, unless you are a paragon of moving and have sorted everything out by now). It’s wonderful to be close to the sea; congratulations on your move, or perhaps I should now say llongifarchiadau instead!

    1. Hi Kate, thank you! It is so very good to be here, even if we are yet to meet any actual Welsh people, which is causing TNG to despair since he is devoting hours to his learning of Welsh! For me that will be a winter project.

      I am definitely not a paragon of moving, there is still chaos pretty much everywhere other than the shed, the garage (tools are important) and the kitchen. I keep getting distracted by the view, by the garden, by wanting to be outside drinking it all in and savouring it all… You’ll definitely have to come over for lunch with Karen some time and help me identify all these plants I have inherited!

  27. what a wonderful view Janet and the garden looks to have lots of promise, I know what you mean about what you see on your walk to the shops as I love my current views, like me you may find yourself pinching yourself at times to reassure you really do live in a beautiful place and are not dreaming,
    one thing I would say about taking plants out is watch the wind direction, you would hate to remove something you dislike only to have the plant you like be burnt and blown about because it’s wind protection was removed, that slate circle makes me think of those ornamental fish ponds with big goldfishes and waterlilies, what a wonderful resorce to play with,
    glad all went well with the move and everyone/thing arrived safe and sound, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, thanks for the reminder about windbreaks, definitely something to bare in mind, though fortunately the back garden, at least, is very sheltered. I suspect the front will get periodically hammered!

      I know exactly what you mean about the circle reminding you of that kind of fish pond – I spend a lot of time staring at it and thinking of all the things I can do with the stone instead…

    1. Hi Nic, I envy me my views too! I didn’t come here from a terrace row, but from a very hemmed in modern estate position. This is heaven. Hope my plants think so too!

  28. Welcome home! So glad to see you’ve made it to Anglesey at last. You must have been in the throes of moving when I was visiting Karen and Kate in Dyffryn Ardudwy. We talked about your move, so I’m sure you’ll be getting to meet them soon :)

    1. Thank you! Feels good, better than good in fact! I’m still walking around with a stupid grin on my face most of the time. Am definitely looking forward to meeting Karen and Kate in the flesh – and meeting their gardens in due course. Definitely an added bonus. You’ll have to extend your next trip to take in the Island and say hi!

  29. Oh wow what a beautiful garden to look out on and that view beyond! Oh and I love Cameron too! I will follow your planting design and progress with interest – we have raised borders in our new front garden with shrubs etc and no lawn to mow (hurrah!). I’m more or less in the know with what each of the shrubs are but a few have got to go! I do have a weakness for hydrangeas, especially mopheads and I have one in a pot that will go in the front garden at some point. Enjoy your new garden, it’s stunning it really is!

    1. Oops, just commented on lack of front lawn in the reply to the other comment… Brain is scrambled from planting… But yes, I am wonderfully lucky, with both the view and the van. They can carry me out in a box, thank you very much, but hopefully not for many, many years!

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