Essendon Village Open Gardens

Yesterday I went to a nearby village where every other year some of the residents open their gardens to the public to raise funds for the local parish.    It’s a great example of English eccentricity, some people spend months taking cuttings & potting up plants to sell, others make cakes & do teas, the local pub does a roaring lunch trade, one resident sells her homemade ice cream…… you get the picture, its like a garden themed village fete.

It’s also a really lovely & interesting way to have a nosy at other people’s gardens -from the very tiny cottage garden to the large country house style & all in between, especially on a nice sunny Sunday.

Yesterday was drizzly & not very warm when we arrived, but that was good as it wasn’t busy, & we got first dibs at some of the plant stalls & saw some of the gardens with no one else around.  I think my favourite is the tiny cottage garden that is really a lovely meandering path, surrounded by all manner of plants, some in pots, all crammed in together – it’s fabulous as you can see.       The Hostas are magnificent with slugs being controlled by nematodes. This tiny garden still manages to have a bit of everything & feels very exotic as its so green & leafy, there are little secret seating areas & the owners make great use of placing pots in the borders to fill in any gaps. I am definitely using that trick in my garden.    I like the way this garden has a long border of nepeta (catmint) – it has a similar effect as a lavender hedge but is much easier to keep in check year after year, as lavender tends to get a bit woody & straggly after a while. Those amazing alliums in the foreground are fab but I can’t remember the variety..       Another gardener makes great use of old bits of scrap metal, wood & old pots & pans – I love the idea of a fake fireplace including over mantle mirror. The top picture shows a great bird feeding station using large wooden posts to hang feeders from- you can just about see in the foreground a long piece of metal guttering being used as a feeding trough. This garden also has an amazing pond, seating area & wall of teapots & old kettles all,planted up!     Two examples of plants I really want in my garden but they must be big:) Sambucus Niger (Black Elder) & Euphorbia.

We had a great day being inspired to go home & get stuck into our own gardens, as well as spending a small fortune on plants we probably didn’t need, or in my case that I’d forgotten I already had, (probably bought at the same place two years previously)!!


Garden Revamp Part 2

So the tree surgeons came, there were 4 of them & they spent 3 hours in pouring rain sorting out our trees. Our garden looks so different, so much brighter & bigger.


You can just see one of the guys in this Laurel which had grown into a tree….  The large terracotta alien is my new water butt more about that later…..  

The conifer at the bottom has been reduced in height by  a third & the canopy lifted, it was also being strangled by a huge ivy so that has been cut at the bottom to allow it to die before removal – it was cutting a groove into the trunk & choking the tree.


My neighbour’s enormous Pine tree has had the most radical trim – three branches were growing horizontally into our garden, with their permission, these have been removed together with lots of deadwood, this has had a dramatic effect on the amount of light & rain which will now reach this side of the garden. The giant Laurel next to it has also had a large branch removed- it still needs some work to reduce the height but so much better already.


Much better- although I now have another corner to tidy!

Garden Revamp Part 1

We moved into our typical victorian semi 17 years ago this week, with 3 children under 5. The garden was very overgrown with mature shrubs (trees) & various fruit trees & lots of brambles, deadnettle & ground elder. 

It has gone through the usual stages of development of family gardens, with tree houses, football goals, climbing frames etc. It had a very large Eucalyptus tree at a 45 degree angle which made a great swing frame for a while (until it started to move even further & needed to be removed), there were lots of nooks & crannies for hide & seek & our children & their friends have all made great use of it.

We have since extended the house sideways & now have a plot about 60 ft square & a large patio with which to start reclaiming our garden as a grown up space
 The view of the bottom of the garden- we are reclaiming the corners that get piled up with junk, as this is my view from the kitchen window & the sunniest part of the garden, it was a veg patch but not a very pretty one. 

This garden used to be 200ft long until 1968 when the bottom half was sold off for development. The righthand side is overshadowed by my neighbours huge pine tree- at least 30 feet high, the soil here is very dry & powdery & a challenge to say the least!

 When we started tidying & clearing we discovered a path & some old victorian edging tiles so we will be making good use of those!

As you can see there’s alot to be done.I have lots of lovely plants in pots ready to go into the garden which will just have to stay in pots until we are ready.

This area is going to have a low maintenence raised bed mirroring one we have near the kitchen. First job is to get the tree surgeons in, as there are some very large trees that need tidying up to let in more light.

Watch this space……..