Karen's visit and James' talk last week have given me much food for thought about my garden. I've been feeling dissatisfied all year: it's 10 years old and much of the planting is well past its sell by date. Despite much step sitting (the place where I do much of my thinking about the garden) I haven't come up with much of a plan apart from taking out the two over large conifer trees (framing the above photo) and ripping out all the planting at the bottom of the garden.
Having blogged and read continuously about gardening for 3 years, I feel like I have gained so much new knowledge about plants and styles, but without the expertise needed to use them well in my garden. I'm also struggling with a space which goes from deep shade on one side to baked Mediterranean in less than 15 metres.
So it was good to have someone here to look things over with less jaded eyes. Karen and I spent quite a lot of time mulling over what James had said too. We agreed that the 'hard stuff' was looking pretty good, so the basic structure I have in place is OK. I've decided not to have a water feature in my garden because I have the sound of the stream going past the side, so the 'wet stuff' doesn't need much attention either.
The two areas needing lots more thought are the 'soft stuff' (plants) and 'other people's stuff'. With the latter James spoke about the need to carefully and gradually blend the garden into what lies beyond. When he said that I realised that's working quite well at the bottom of my garden. You can hardly tell there's a fence plus 2 compost bins there and the greenery blends with the hedges of my neighbours. So ripping out all the shrubs down there isn't the solution after all.
I still need a better use of layers down there though, so perhaps removal of some of the shrubs like the thorny Berberis and the hidden Kilmarnock willow will provide some room to introduce some colour and different levels. I'm also considering a border of wavy grass to provide some unity and lightness, like the strands of silver leaved edging plants I used there when I first planted up the garden. Karen thinks I need to make better use of my focal points like the pictured shed too. I've thought about adding a Sedum roof to it, but I need to persuade NAH as well as researching which plants are suitable for under a shady birch tree.
This means I need to look elsewhere for the main injection of colour I think the garden needs. Karen's suggested digging up half of the lawn and putting in a large curved bed which will hide both the gravel path and some of the planting at the bottom of the garden. I think she's right, but I'm struggling to come up with ideas for its execution and the means to persuade NAH that such a bold move is the way forward.
It looks like lots more step sitting is required...