I was determined not to miss yet another End of Month View post, it is far too useful as a way to log progress in the garden, in my case, the front garden – check out Helen’s blog to see how her own front garden is progressing and find links to other people’s posts in this meme.

In my garden, we now have tulips. Standing tall and stark, surrounded by bare soil, I don’t find them particularly inspirational – more municipal, really – but it does prove that tulips grow well here.


They won’t be wasted, they will be lifted and planted in the border that runs alongside the driveway, where they will look rather good, I think, if accompanied by plants rather than bare soil! But this corner, with the purple foliage of the hebe and the silvery variegation of the pittosporum, could look rather good at this time of year if accompanied by tulips in a rich deep red and a dark purple – ‘Jan Reus’, perhaps, as blogged about by Christina, with ‘Queen of Night’?

escallonia hedgelet

Particularly if the mini escallonia plants start to look like a hedge and provide a deep green backdrop to them. I hope to fill in the gaps and thicken the “hedge” by taking cuttings later in the year, in the mean time I am hardening off lots of Ammi majus, Verbena bonariensis, white cosmos and gaura to fill in the gaps.

Blue is good

On a day like today, when the sea is a deep blue rather than the muddy grey it has been so frequently, you can see that clouds of blue and purple are going to be wonderful in this garden. I rather fell in love with a Teucrium I saw growing in Christina’s garden (not that it would flower through the winter for me), but sadly it would be too tall to grow along the wall beyond the hydrandeas. The wall is only 65cm high, and because of our new deck, any planting further towards the sea along that wall than the hydrangeas needs to grow to that height and no more. Fortunately I have discovered Teucrium fruticans ‘Compactum’, which only grows to 50cm, and has lavender blue flowers in the summer and evergreen (!) silvery foliage. Do you like our stylish new deck?!

palette deck

Ugly, I know, but a good proof of concept. With the fence getting so much lower towards the front of the garden I am no longer keen on a seating area where the pond currently sits. Experimenting with palettes we have found that this area near the house gives us a wonderful view out across the bay.

that view again

We also tend to hop over the little wall that divides the garden from the driveway in front of the porch area to get in to the front garden, a pretty concrete message that we need a proper entrance to it here. So, the current plan is to build a small deck up at the height of the driveway with integral steps at either side down in to the garden proper. A place to drink coffee or G&Ts while soaking up sun and view – the evening sun bathes this area until late, making it the ideal “sundowner” spot. But it does also constrain the planting.

The front of the garden, now clear of most of the prunings, looks like a wasteland. A wasteland shaped like the prow of a barge, and sadly chock full of bindweed.

wasteland at the front of the garden

The weeping willow has beautiful foliage, silvery coloured on dark brown stems, but the poor thing is a terrible shape – probably fixable – and leans at almost 45 degrees – which is not. So it has to go, but at least that means I will be able to glysophate the bindweed and get rid of it once and for all. Well, a girl can dream…

I think it was Laura who suggested that I turn the very end of the garden into a stylised version of the rocks and cliffs. At the time, much as I loved the idea, I couldn’t see it working because of the trees and shrubs already growing there. Now, though, most of that is gone – or going – and I am increasingly drawn to the idea. Whatever I end up doing at this end of the garden it is going to take a long time, since not only am I blessed with a healthy crop of bindweed, I also have the viburnum to contend with.

the monster viburnum

I really like Viburnum tinus, but boy is it a thug when left to its own devices for a few years! I just heard that bil and gardening-sil are going to be visiting in a couple of weeks, and I am hoping that bil feels like wielding the mattock a little to work up an appetite…

Working back towards the house, the Great Fence Project is a little stalled, but I did get round to moving the lacecap hydrangea and planting a couple more plants that had been stuck in pots for far too long.

spot the difference

It’s a little hard to tell, but I have planted a Japanese quince – Chaenomeles nivalis – against the fence to the right of the spindle, which will hopefully provide lovely white flowers in the late winter. Alongside that is the smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) that has been languishing in a pot ever since I moved it out from under the rowan tree in my old garden. I decided that as we were going to be moving soon I might as well put it in a pot so that I could take it with me. Four years later it finally gets a free root run! Since the lovely Photinia davidiana ‘Palette’ lost all its leaves this year it is clearly not reliably evergreen, so I am going to need more evergreen plants to anchor this patch of border. I am currently thinking a pretty phormium with a Anemanthele lessoniana grass as contrast between the photinia and the smoke bush, and Euphrobia characias subsp. wulfenii just the other side and slightly in front of the spindle. The new leaves on the photinia have a lovely coppery tint:

New leaves on Photinia davidiana 'Palette'

They should go really well with the anemanthele, and the phormium will add architecture and will make a great contrast. I hope. The whole border is going to be a lot deeper than it currently is, and I want to use pale yellows and white with some rusty oranges and dashes of blue. That’s the theory, anyway, but watch this space, it will all depend on what plants I manage to grow, steal, find money to buy…

The area most changed is the so-called Spring corner up closest to the house. Backed by the lovely twisted willows and anchored by the fatsia and Euphorbia mellifera I am groping my way towards a tapestry of foliage for most of the year, but in Spring a mass of yellow, white and blue. it doesn’t look much yet.
Spring corner

But I think the lacecap hydrangea will be much more in keeping here, and I have started re-shaping the border, curving it and deepening it. I have started planting it up, and in my mind’s eye I can see a lovely array of contrasting foliage, but only time will tell. I plan to add foxgloves, aquilegias and purple cow parsley, and add in some of the forget-me-nots from the other side to help a sense of cohesion. In the mean time there are the Spanish bluebells I inherited, the hostas I brought with me in pots (and their hitch-hikers) and some new treasures:

hosta with foxglove

tellima grandiflora
Tellima grandiflora
epimedium perralderianum
Epimedium perralderianum
Asplenium scolopendrium 'Angustifolia'
Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Angustifolia’
Polystichum munitum
Polystichum munitum

I feel much more willing to take my time with it all now, which is just as well, and am really enjoying planning, dreaming, tweaking. Lots of hard work ahead, but every time I get to plant some things I have been dreaming about I move a little bit closer to version one of the new look front garden.

One final thing – amongst the bindweed, gravel and weeds up at the front I found this:

mystery plant

Any ideas what it is?

68 thoughts on “End of Month View April 2013

  1. I think your last photo is a euphorbia. You’ve made so much progress in your garden! Your view of the ocean is such an incredible backdrop to whatever you fill your beds with. How are you going to get rid of all the bindweed?

    1. I thought it was probably some sort of euphorbia, the foliage is really pretty, I’d just like to know if it is going to be a rampant thug or a well behaved delight!! As to the wretched bindweed, I will wait until the shoots have three or four leaves and then paint them with glysophate. Fiddly but direct and should be effective.

  2. Wow! You have a lot going on!
    Thanks for the tour of your garden.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  3. I love the layout of your garden. Any gardener will tell you that it is never really finished and maybe that is it’s most enduring quality. You will always have a next task that you want to accomplish. The only tip I might humbly pass to you is to provide yourself a space where you can sit to enjoy your hot tea or coffee and take in those really wonderful views you have of the water. A garden is really more like a hug than anything else…Enjoy.

    1. Hi Charlie, love the idea of a garden being like a hug. As to somewhere to sit, absolutely, hence the deck!

  4. What a fantastic view of the sea you have! It’s a great idea to use the pallets to work out the position of your seating, it will be wonderful to sit back with your g & t and look out at that view :-) I agree with Casa Mariposa, your mystery plant appears to be a a Euphorbia,

    1. Hi Paula, we are ridiculously lucky with that view, aren’t we, it always takes my breath away and makes me smile, it is a privilege to garden with that as the backdrop. Not to mention weeding to the sound of the waves is somehow far more tolerable!! Euphorbia it is, would love to know which one though.

  5. My goodness, you really are close to the sea.. those views are spectacular!
    I love the sound of your planting plans too. It pays to take your time, especially in a ‘new’ garden. I’ve changed my mind several times and am glad I let it all settle for a while before launching in.

    1. The views are really special, not least because we couldn’t see most of that from the garden when we got here, and if the fence hadn’t fallen down in a gale I am not sure we would have realised what we could have by lowering the boundaries a little. I’m sure I will still change my mind – probably many times – but the joy of being able to try something and know I am here for the long term, and so can change my mind again, is considerable.

  6. You have done such a lot to your front garden since we last saw it, all your plans are coming to fruition! Your palletts are such a good idea to decide where to put tour ” sundowner terrace” , then you know its in the right place when the permanent edition goes down. I think your last photo is of Linaria which I found had just arrived in the garden here, it grows about 5ft tall and has small purple flowers which the bees love. I am now finding pink flowered ones appearing which are rather nice.

    1. Hi Pauline, the pallets worked really well, plus we can use them as a temporary sitting place while we wait to build the final version. I see what you mean about linaria, but I think the leaves on my mystery plant are too grey and glaucus.

  7. The layout of your garden is shaping up so nicely! Love the progress so far and the plans you have for it. The longer you are there the more you will discover what layout and projects you’ll need to do to make the garden work be at its best for you. And those views, wow!

    Seeing you use pallets made me smile. We did the same when assessing what an area would feel like with decking on it. I must say using pallets are very effective for this function!

    1. Thank you, having just seen the post about the evolution of pig sty to jungle, you know more than a little something about transforming a garden. I am really enjoying the process, learning about what colours and forms seem to work and edging towards the images hovering in my mind is endlessly fascinating and absorbing. I think TNG is grateful I can “talk” to others who get it via blogging, it takes the pressure of him to try and be interested, I’ll settle for him being supportive and letting me get on with it!

  8. Whew! That was a good long catch up! I was wondering if your last photo was hyssop – so now you have lots of suggestions to consider! It will be exciting to watch your garden shape up with your changes – and as you said, a monthly posting like this is really hepful for the poster as well as fascinating for the reader. Having just in a Viburnum tinus I am now a little perturbed after reading your comments on it!

    1. Hi Cathy, sorry, I do tend to put together long posts, I get a little carried away! I wouldn’t worry too much about the viburnum, just get rid of suckers as you spot them, mine was neglected for at least 3 years and probably longer than that. The other one I have is far more well behaved, and I will try and turn the single sucker into a new plant for use elsewhere later.

  9. Lots of progress, and so much excitement to come! I agree that your last photo looks like Linaria purpurea. Last year I sowed lots of ‘Canon Went’ from seed, and then found a very similar seedling to those I was nurturing had already sprung up tangled up with something I bought at a plant sale…
    Ah that sea view…

    1. Hmm, that’s two for linaria and two for euphorbia! I think I will just have to wait and see what it does… I’m sure your home-sown linaria is far superior to the hitch hiker ;-) As to the sea – what can I say! It makes me smile every day to wake up and have that view.

      1. No wonder, such a glorious view, I’m amazed you get anything done ;).
        Ah the hitch-hiker was actually marvellous last year, I didn’t mind its arrival at all as my seedlings were too late to flower. Now they are coming into their own, while the visitor has already spread itself about to give them even more young friends… So far this is a good thing, though I may be ripping them out soon enough!

  10. I am really enjoying seeing the progress on your garden and how you decide to do things, it is fascinating. It must be quite distracting with the sea to stare at so close. Thank for joining in again this month

    1. Thanks Helen, I am finding it really useful to write about how I am thinking about the planting and structure, being more measured and working out why I want what I (think) I want is really helping. And you are so right about the sea being distracting at times, particularly if the wind direction means the waves are crashing on to the rocks on the beach.

  11. A lot going on in your garden! Love the tulips! They don’t grow well here, and so I find myself lusting after the ones I see in photos. Very smart of you to move pallets around in order to figure out where you might want a deck. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize something that large in the garden. And I agree that if you are jumping over a wall, a gate would be good there. Good luck with your bindweed. I hope your bil is feeling ambitious and helpful when he visits!

    1. I am really happy to finally be gardening somewhere that tulips grow well. I am useless at visualising structures, so the palettes have been invaluable, it is comforting to know I am not the only one to find them so! As for bil, he does love a challenge, he took down a conifer last time he was here!

  12. It appears to be a good year for tulips, but as you say they do need to be in the right place.
    That’s a shame about the weeping willow having to go. I look forward to seeing the lacecap hydrangea in flower.
    I like your comment about weeding to the sound of waves being somehow far more tolerable!
    As always a most enjoyable post and terrific pictures. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, I am really sad about the willow, if it wasn’t on the slant so much I might be tempted to keep it and see if I could prune it so that it grew in a better shape – and blocked less of the view. I think the lacecap will look really good in its new home, provided I remember to keep watering it until it is well established.

  13. Janet, I agree, Tulips generally require companions. What a fabulous seaview you have. Glad to be able to tell you that I have my site sorted out, well actually I had to get the help of an expert. I am pretty sure your plant is euphorbia wulfenii, grows tall and seen as being very architectural .

    1. Hi Alistair, so glad you got your site sorted out, that kind of thing can be a total nightmare. I am still pondering what to grow with the tulips, several people have recommended daylilies, but I am not sure they will fit well, at least on the wall side, with the other plants I plan to put in. Lots to think about, but I am very happy to know that tulips will thrive in the free-draining soil.

  14. Thanks for the mentions Janet, I can certainly recommend Tulip Jan Reus. Teucrium can be pruned into shape almost like box so don’t rule it out as a possible plant. It will flower for a long time for you even if not all winter. It is tough and will take strong winds and the foliage is beautiful too, so a winner all round. From your photo the last image looks like a euphorbia, but I think you would have recognised that so I’m not sure. Christina

    1. Your’e welcome Christina, I am finding your garden a great source of inspiration at the moment! Thanks for the tip about the teucrium, I had seen something about cutting it hard back almost to the ground each year in March, and figured that must mean it grows back really quickly to reach almost a meter in height. I presume it flowers on the new growth, so would I prune it again in May? I am wondering about perhaps using teucrium fruticans on the fence side where it can grow to pretty much its full height without spoiling the view, and use ‘compacta’ on the wall side. The almost matching foliage would help achieve the coherence I am after and I wouldn’t have to worry about height. As to they mystery plant, I am now thoroughly confused, my first thought was euphorbia but the foliage is more fine than any that I am familiar with. I think I may just have to wait and see what it does.

      1. The Teucrium seems to flower on old and new wood. It is the most undemanding plant I’ve ever grown, and once you have one it is easy to reproduce from cuttings. It is easy to keep to whatever size you choose. There are also a lot of other Teucriums including one that is described as a ground cover. I have another low growing one that I planted last year with even more silvery foliage, I’m looking forward to seeing the flowers in summer. Christina

  15. I was just thinking about how blue the sea looked and you took the words out of my mouth Janet :) Maybe not the tulips of your choice but at least you know for future reference that they are happy in your soil. Have just nipped out to contemplate my linarias and the base of the stems have that same reddy/purple tinge as in your photo. Linaria is a prolific self seeder so could easily have come in as a guest whilst I’m not sure how euphorbias multiply. Will be interesting to see what it turns into.

    1. Hi Anna, I am now thoroughly confused about my mystery plant, I think I will have to wait and see what it does, I don’t even know which I hope it is, euphorbia or linaria, as both could be rather good to have! Thanks for popping out to have a look at your linaria. As for the sea, it is an endless source of fascination, always changing, but I do love that deep blue that it goes on a bright sunny day, it sends me racing to check the growth rate of my seedlings so that I can see blues, silvers and purples dancing around framing the view.

  16. It is Linaria Janet I have it all over my garden – the bees love it. Lovely to see the sea from your garden and how it is progressing – the garden not the sea!

    1. Thank you Elaine, I think between you, yourself, Anna and Sara have me convinced. Wonder what colour the flowers will be – I must move it before I get the glysophate out.

  17. Hi Janet,

    Lovely to see how the garden is doing, I love your swathes of F-M-Ns – need some more photos of them, me thinks :D Very useful for colour and ground cover at this time of year and look very nice with white tulips blooming through them. However it’s a shame they look a mess once they go to seed and die off.
    I’m very jealous of your new decking though.. No doubt it’ll be all the rage within the next few years :)

    1. Hah! I couldn’t possibly do the same justice you do… Are they easy to collect seed from? I am planning some largish areas of them over the other side, guess I will just have to learn about the scruffy stage, by the time we got here in July there was just a mass of lovely seedling foliage, which makes great groundcover too. As for the decking, I think we need an orange palette next…

  18. love love love that view from higher up! what a grand spot to sit in as you get to see the lower part of the garden with all its wonderful plants and then the ocean beyond. absolute perfection. I agree about the tulips, they look rather scattered. Clumped together in a smaller area they should be lovely though.

    1. Hah! At the moment it threatens to be a view of the bindweed forest that is developing! It is a grand view though. And I agree about the tulips, they really are a plant that needs to be massed not dotted.

    1. Actually its the only way I stay (almost) sane, with so much to do. Planting up the spring corner helped me feel I was making progress and now I am much calmer about tackling one area at a time. I am very bored of fence building now that the weather is warmer though!

  19. Janet you are making really good progress, taking the willow down looks like it would give you a bit more sea view, I like Laura’s idea of using the natural rocks and cliffs as design inspiration and doing a stylised version, it would create more of a link between that tip of the garden and the view beyond, still love that beautiful blue of your forget-me-nots, Frances

    1. Thank you Frances, and I agree, that sense of linking to the wilder part of the surrounding landscape is very appealing. Besides, rockeries are due a come-back!

  20. Looking at that gorgeous blue sea, I can imagine blending blue and silver coloured flowers and plants with it will look stunning. The forget-me-nots look very striking. And I am truely envious that you will enjoy the evening sun with that view – and that you already do the tedious work of weeding to the sound of waves.

    1. Hi Wendy, yes, definitely blues and silvers, also orangey-browns and soft yellows for the colours on the cliffs opposite. Sorry about the wave envy, it does make weeding more pleasurable.

  21. I just love your sea view Janet! It’s great having a good snoop around your garden! You’ve really got an interesting selection of plants there. I bet you’ll enjoy sitting out on the deck if you decide to go for it. Did you decide what your little mystery plant is?

    1. Hi Anna, it is a rather wonderful view, isn’t it, we are extraordinarily lucky. The deck is now a definite, just need to plan the details. I am leaning towards linaria on the mystery plant front, but only time will tell!

  22. Loving the idea of using your pallets as a temporary decking and moving them about. They are such useful things aren’t they? We’re making a fence with them at the allotment. Our garden centre has even started charging people for them. we thought they’d be happy for us to take a few away for free but no, £5 each they want in return. Fortunately WM gets a fair few come into work so we can get hold of some for free. Anyway I digress. Your garden is really coming together. I’m sure you’re going to find lots of new plants appearing over the coming months. ;)

    1. I am loving having pallets, after years of reading about all the things you can do with them and never having any! I bet they make an excellent allotment fence, what a good idea. When ours have finished playing deck, they will get turned in to compost bins, though I am rather tempted to try making a bench too.

  23. Lovely post – enjoyed my stroll around your garden, thankyou ! How fantastic to see the sea as you do. I think your new little visitor is a Euphorbia. I don’t know the variety but I DO know it can be a thug if it is allowed to run free ! I love it (love all Euphorbias, they are my fave genus) BUT it is a naughty little thing and will appear in the middle of all palnts around it. Very invasive – but easily pulled out, so you can forgive it really!

    1. I can easily forgive the vigorous spreaders if they are pretty and easy to pull out – I will be watching this little plant closely to see what it does. I agree about euphorbias, really attractive and useful plants, I hope to use more of them in the front garden.

  24. A very dense post Janet even in summary. Saw the pallets and for a moment assumed Ground Force had paid a makeover visit ;) Talking of palettes, getting the colour right is something I’ve tended to overlook as focused instead on just being thankful if something grows. You’ve always managed some gorgeous combos (I remember your geums and grasses) But with that blue sea view (and grey on grey days) was wondering about silver-grey foliage with a bronze, purple, lime green contrast (Elspeth Thompson). Comes to something when myosotis is being out blued.
    Fast forward to the end of garden clearance, and hey-ho might yet see the rock garden here :)

    1. Hi Laura, I really should learn to be more succinct, I know, posts turn in to my own garden journal so I am always grateful that people stick with it and still comment! Rest assured, no lurid blue woodwork in this garden ;-) I smiled when I saw your colour suggestions, we really are on similar wavelengths, I have purple elder, smoke bush, cow parsley and a lovely purple leaved dahlia, lambs ears for silver and still thinking about what else to add for silver, and intend to use euphorbias for that lime green shock that I think will work so well. Add in the purples and blues, and the only thing missing is some rusty orangey-browns and soft yellows to echo the colours in the cliffs. That’s the plan, anyway. The willow comes down today, and then once the bindweed is dealt with, hopefully, rockery with thrift and crambe maritima… I am excited, and hacked off that I till have to finish the fence, which isn’t as much fun!!

  25. I agree with Casa that your view of the sea is such a beautiful backdrop to your garden! Your idea to plant purple and blue blooms here will really complement this view. What are the blue bloomers in front of the tulips–forget-me-nots? They are so pretty; I’ve tried to plant some here, but haven’t had any luck with them so far. They’re not in the best of soil, so that probably doesn’t help.

    Everything is really coming along in your garden; I know it must be hard being patient, but eventually you’ll achieve that vision you have. Good luck with getting rid of the bindweed!

    1. Hi Rose, thank you, I think I will need some luck – and plenty of glysophate – with the bindweed, though at least I don’t plan to plant densely at that end which helps. Yes, they are indeed forget-me-nots, I love them. My soil was too heavy for them in the last garden, they just never grew, but here it seems they are very at home, and I hope to keep them in the garden albeit it spread around a little more.

  26. This has been a delightful read, Janet – including all the comments to follow! I love that you can see the finished garden in your mind’s eye and are excited as it gradually comes together. As I read on, I could see glorious visions of things to come! Love your colour combinations and plant choices. I’ve just bought a black cow parsley from the college’s nursery for my shade border and, before that, a Polystichum went in, back of border. Love mixing up textures and blending colours, so satisfying.
    PS. I’m plumping for euphorbia… ;)

    1. Hi Caro, thank you, I think the comments are the best bit about blogging. I shall be keeping a close eye on the mystery plant, the split is pretty even at the moment. Happily I think either will make it a good thing to have!

    1. Hi Donna, the view is endlessly beguiling, and constantly changing. I spend hours just looking at it. I am enjoying the slow evolution of the garden, though I wish someone would come and magically finish the fence off for me, it gets it the way of the fun planting bits!!

  27. I am glad that you had some ideas from your commenters about your mystery plant. I really like the Teucrium, I would think it would also be deer resistant (for me!!) as the foliage is fragrant. Love the silvery foliage of the T. fruticans….sounds like a win win!
    I had no idea Viburnum would be so hard to move….guess mine being compactum made it easier to move. Love the fragrance of it.

    1. Hi Janet, it is going to be really interesting watching the mystery plant develop! Teucrium does indeed sound like a great plant, I am looking forward to getting enough space cleared to be able to plant it. As for moving the viburnum, it is 2m tall and has a root ball to match! I just need to sever the deep roots now and it will be ready to move to its new home, though it will need cutting right back to give it a chance.

    1. Hi b-a-g, if I could just work out how to attach castors to make it truly mobile…

  28. Wow…your garden is so lovely and well-designed! It is so nice to have a tour of all the elements of your garden. The red tulips are gorgeous against the purple.

  29. Oh I get so excited when I visit here and read all your plans………I wish I’d started blogging 10 years ago when I was planning so much! The thought of Ammi majus and Verbena bonariensis growing together sounds wonderful and that new seating area seems to be the perfect spot for a summers evening.

  30. So much space! So much inspiringly empty earth. Such great plans and thoughtfulness . . . I confess, though, that with a view like that, I’d have to concentrate in order to pay attention to the plants!

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