Sunday, 13 February 2011

Up the garden path

We've now lived in this house for almost 2 years and we bought full in the knowledge that the garden, as well as the house, needed some very serious grunt work to get it into shape. Our last house had been the same and took 4 years but was significantly smaller. What we learnt from the last house was invaluable for tackling this one - plan, don't rush, divide and conquer.

This is the garden when we moved in - the copper beech was just breaking bud and we estimated was older than the house as it had had the crown removed (rather badly) some time ago but the trunk was massive. it may be 150 years old or thereabouts. what this image doesn't show is the dense 'forest' behind the beech tree that goes on for another 200 ft, the area the estate agent hilariously referred to as the 'secret garden'. it was not secret, you knew it was there alright you just couldn't get in without becoming completely snared by brambletrees. What it also doesn't show is the soil type, which is sandy loam (on the edge of the green sands of west norfolk). Our last garden was cambridge clay so this was going to be a whole new gardening challenge! OH was definitely daunted by the prospect of taking on such a large and overgrown garden, but it was also a fantastic opportunity as it was keeping the price of the house down as well as it looked so bad.

So, over the past 18 months we've mowed, weeded, broken 2 shredders, lost numerous secateurs to undergrowth, bent the root loppers & had professionals in to take out 11 60ft leylandiis that had overstayed their welcome by 15 years. They were shading everything as well as sucking the ground dry. They are now being burnt with great glee.

All this effort resulted in a garden that looked hideous. Much worse than the dark jungle we bought. For instance, this is the before image at the very back of the garden (there's our Crawley Beauty 125 year old apple tree in there somewhere), leylandiis and overgrown shrubs everywhere.

This is the same place the leylandii were removed & shrubs around taken out. The Voss's laburnum will be going too, soon.

After today's digging (the bottle dump was found on the other side of the apple tree. The fence in the image is our rear boundary fence, we used to dream of being able to touch that fence!) the other side of the apple tree looks like this.
 Where the mattock stands there was a 3ft high ridge of dumped compost which has developed into some fantastic soil. This whole area including the apple tree and 20ft back down from there will be the kitchen garden. As the garden is taken down to the bare bones I can finally see how the plan will work, where the greenhouse will go in this year and the shed. I also need to get the asparagus bed planned asap!

We must give thanks to these sterling hardworkers who have blazed a weed free trail for us everytime we've uncovered a new area. They will be going back in on the area above to deal with the inevitable weed seedlings in 2 weeks, after they've trimmed the grass off the next section to the left of the apple tree.

Hopefully it won't be 18 months before the next garden progress blog!


  1. What a wonderful garden to get your mitts on and your team of helpers look as if they can't wait to get digging!


  2. Thanks Celia, they really do a wonderfully useful job, much like your UGs!