Restoring a Hampshire Garden – Chapter 3

I’ve just realised it’s been 5 weeks since I last wrote an update on my daughter and Son in Law’s Hampshire Garden. The last blog post, Chapter Two, was all about sorting out the heavy duty, overgrown trellis along the side of the garage. It is now festooned with lights and hanging pots, much nicer than overgrown ivy and unkempt honeysuckle.

The Heuchera really picked up after freeing it from the stranglehold of weeds and is looking rather splendid. The spikey plant is a donated impressive lime green Heuchera but had been left in a pot and dried out in the recent hot weather. To revive it I gave it a drastic haircut and it is slowly throwing out new shoots – phew!

The roses have responded well to their untangling and pruning last month. There are a few plants on the shopping list for the trellis to provide an evening floral fragrance, such as Jasmine Officinale.

The ivy covered hedge that divided the garden across the middle has been removed, opening up the garden considerably. Behind the hedge was a very neglected and overgrown area that had a few raised beds and once clearly was a productive fruit and vegetable part of the garden. This has now been cleared and will be laid to lawn with a variety of borders adding shape and interest to the garden, including a hot border with grasses, Rudbekia and Echinacea in the sunniest border.

I have been given the border on the left hand side of the garden as my own, which is really exciting. It is 10 metres long and full of roots from ivy and other shrubs that have been removed. The ivy is still a battle but having a 17 year fight in my Worthing garden I am used to dealing with it!

It is a challenge finding suitable plants for a North-West facing border, with a North facing corner and a large apple tree. Ferns and Hostas will be the order of the day for this far corner under the tree. It is a dry shade, and some careful planting is required – according to the RHS website Pieris Japonica, Skimmia, Viburnum and Sambucus Nigra are ideal shrubs.

The soil is fabulous loam which is not surprising since it was used for growing vegetables and fruit. It was an absolute treat to work after years of heavy clay. Some, and perhaps most, gardeners would dig over the whole border before planting anything but I am digging over one section at a time and getting some plants established as I go.

Today I dug in a couple of large bags of compost to enrich the soil which was dry and then I selected a few plants from the garden centre which all say will tolerate light shade but worryingly according to the RHS website most need full sun. The border does get full sun from mid afternoon so fingers crossed they will be ok:-

CaryopterisHeavenlyBlue‘; Veronica ‘Atomic Red’; Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’; Lobelia ‘Queen Victoria’; Salvia ‘Blue Mandalay’ x2; Geum ‘Sunrise’ x2; plus Dianthus x6, Achemilla Mollis and Campanula to fill in the gaps.

I am not an expert, only an amateur gardener but many years of having my own garden and experienced mistakes with just as many successes, I know that plants are adaptable and provide many surprises. I think I will repeat this planting along the border incorporating shade loving plants as I approach the fern/hosta corner.

Finally, have fallen in love with the very old cedar wood shed. There was electricity in there at one time and the roof is corrugated iron, but it is going to be very useful for pottering in and storing stuff.

Restoring a Hampshire Garden – Chapter 2

KEEPING IVY AND HER FRIEND HONEYSUCKLE IN THEIR PLACE

This latest task wasn’t so much a restoration job, but a ‘let’s see what we have here’ job. There are times when this is necessary to help see the bigger picture.

The garage, strangely built at the back of the house taking up some of the garden, is an ugly building. It is no surprise a trellis was built along the wall with climbers to camouflage it.

The planting here consisted of 3 climbing roses, believed to be ‘Albertine’, several ivies, a honeysuckle and a wisteria. The wisteria was well and truly dead so removing it was an easy task. Not surprising it had died, the raised bed was on top of the paving, so only about 6″ deep. I’m amazed anything grew, but ivy doesn’t care where she puts her roots as long as she is allowed to grow.

Everything had been allowed to run wild for a good few years and trying to untangle and remove twisted stems through the solid trellis proved impossible. We had to resort to taking it down, it had been built in situ nailed to batons and solidly made. It took three of us to remove it from the wall and it was extremely heavy, I can assure you! My Son in Law climbed on to the roof with trepidation to attack from above. The ivy and the honeysuckle had made its way across the garage roof and into and around the guttering, which made it a hard job to clear, a bit like untangling knitting wool. My daughter and I tackled the rampant plants from below, ducking at each shower of debris and dust that fell on us as we pulled stuff away from the wall – headscarves or hats should have been the order of the day. My head itched for hours afterwards.

As with all jobs, putting something back together again always proves much harder than dismantling. I mentioned earlier, this framework was very heavy and lining it up again to the correct batons was a feat. In view of its weight my back was beginning to complain so I was given the job of using the electric drill to screw it back into place. A much easier job and quite satisfying in a strange way.

With all the foot traffic and removal of roots, the weakened and somewhat rotting boards eventually collapsed, which is another job to sort out. This will be at a later date, there are other jobs taking priority on the garden to-do list.

We uncovered windows in the garage and the ivy had even crept its way through the window frames. However, at the end of what transpired to be a longer job than anticipated, there is now an area, a bit like a bare wall, asking to be filled up. The roses have been saved, despite not having a good dept of soil for their roots. They’ve been pruned and will be carefully trained to grow to splendid glory.

There are lots of planting ideas, but if any of you gardeners reading this have some suggestions, all ideas will be looked at. I have to remember I can only advise and help, it’s not my garden. Honeysuckle is always pretty as long as it is kept under control, a perfumed variety such as ‘Graham Thomas’ might be a possibility, you can never go wrong with clematis such as Montana ‘Elizabeth’ with its fabulous fragrance. I think ivy had her day, but we will have to keep an eye on any tiny roots left behind – we all know she is difficult to eradicate.