All change again!

Last year it was the bog garden that had an overhaul and is still in the process of developing.  This time it is the border at the side by the field that is in desperate need of a make-over. The tiny bushes we planted about 18 yrs ago are now huge and leaning forward, depriving the plants in front of light and air. I never remember to take photos before we start work, but this is when we have started to cut back the first conifer.

Side border

Conifer sprouting

Where I cut some branches back last year, I was so pleased to see some new sproutings. I’m hoping that in a years time there will be new growth where I have cut it back and that maybe in future we can keep it trimmed  as a hedge which will let the plants in front grow properly. I have discovered about another 5 ft of border for planting!!

Left hand end of border

The left hand end of the border is a complete mess with Alchemilla mollis seeding everywhere, evening primrose and foxgloves seeding everywhere and grass has invaded the border, probably from the field next door. Lots more has come from the field, docks, thistles, bindweed, nettles and brambles. We will pick the blackberries before we pull them out! It might be easier to take out the plants I want to keep and pot them up, then clear everything else out.

Lavender hedge

In the centre of the border are supposed to be 2 lavender hedges leading to one of my carvings, what a sprawling, woody mess! I think I forgot to trim them this spring, but they are getting very old anyway, so out they came, but not before…….

Lavender cuttings

…….lots of cuttings were taken. I will have to see whether I plant them back in the same place or if I decide to plant something new. The cuttings won’t be wasted, if I don’t use them, then they will be for sale at the church plant fair.

Moon carving

This is the carving in the middle of the border where the lavender hedge leads the eye, or its supposed to! I carved this after my mother died, her maiden name was Moon, she had a habit of wagging her finger at me and telling me what to do, even when I was over 60!

Top corner

At the top right hand end of the border 2 shrubs are getting out of hand. A pink Spirea on the right is smothering the pampas grass, some suckers have even grown up through it! On the left a yellow variegated cornus is swamping an upright berberis and lots of perennials underneath. Note to myself, must cut this cornus back in March when I do all the red stemmed ones!

Space in front of Viburnum

A Viburnum was doing the same as the conifer, spreading far too far forward and taking light from the plants below. We now have a carpet of ivy to remove as well, but that is easy to take out. I have been ruthless with plants that haven’t behaved, I will now have to decide what is going to replace them all.


There was a time when I had a super plant of a Cardoon in this border…..look what I found when I had finished cutting back the conifer, such a tiny little shoot, but it is still alive, more than I deserve really. I hope it survives the winter and will now grow properly next year. I remember when it is flowering at 6ft tall, the huge thistle like heads are usually covered with bumble bees wallowing in the purple pollen, lovely sight.

Once the clean up is finished,  plants will be moved from elsewhere in the garden, some of them split to make more. Cuttings have been taken and seeds will be sown. Already having a garden where different parts take centre stage at various times of the year, it would make sense to have this border for the one season where colour is lacking. The garden starts the year with all the bulbs in the woodland, Jan, Feb, March and April and then hands over to the bog garden which will now be flowering on all cylinders for April, May, June and July. The bee and butterfly border starts in June and continues through July, August and September, so I am thinking that maybe (that means I can change my mind!) this border by the field can be the best border for August, September and October flowers with a bit of a prairie theme,  maybe even into November, depending on the weather.

There is a lot of work to be done, removing all the weeds that we can see, especially the bindweed which comes through the fence, tracing their long white roots is quite satisfying in a peculiar way!  The soil will need improving as it must be impoverished with the shrubs taking all the nourishment for years. We will add  compost and leaf mould and maybe a visit to the livery stables up the road would be a good idea! Already I can see other areas in the garden that are looking tired and uninteresting but they will have to wait another year, one border at a time is enough!

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33 Responses to All change again!

  1. debsgarden says:

    That is a lot of work, and I can totally identify. I recently overhauled my old herb bed, which was choked with grass and other weeds. It was much easier to do as you suggested, removing the desirables then getting rid of everything that remained. The moon carving is amazing and a wonderful tribute to your mother. You are very talented, and surely your mother would have loved it.

    • Pauline says:

      I know my mother would have liked the carving Deb, especially the wagging finger, she had a good sense of humour! I have been doing well with the weeding but the large clumps of plants that have grass growing through them will soon be split and potted up and all evidence of weeds removed. I am so glad that everyone so far says this is the best way!

  2. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    I think you have the best idea; dig up anything you do want and remove the rest. It’s much easier this way and I find it helps me to think clearly because I tend to get blinded by what’s already there. I need to do similar with one of my borders which is struggling and I think the best option is to just remove everything in one part and start again.
    Looking forward to seeing the border develop, and I think your late blooming plan is good, Prairie does seem to be the most obvious option… I wonder if there are any natives which bloom nice and late???

    Lovely carving, and a very nice tribute to your mother 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Liz, Mum would have liked the carving, and been amused that I was putting her in the garden! I think that we all have areas that need unpicking like a bit of old knitting, and yes, I think the best way most times is to start again having cleaned the plants of all the weeds that have got tangled up. We’re all going to be busy over the next few weeks!!

  3. Christina says:

    The carving is amazing, Pauline, will you move it or add something else to lead the eye to it? It is always so satisfying to be making a new start! I like the idea of a late flowering border that might go into winter with lots of seedheads. I’ll be watching progress with interest. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      Christina, the carving will stay where it is I think and something else planted to lead the eye. I’m really looking forward to starting again, even though some of the plants will be the same, the look of the border as a whole will be very different and hopefully have lots of colour late on in the year, I like the idea of seedheads to feed the birds in the winter.

  4. Yeah for more gardening space! It’s great to discover the surviving perennials growing underneath an an overgrown area, but of course the weeds like the secret places, too. Of course being sneakier, there’s usually more of them. It will be very satisfying when you get it sorted out.

    The carving is a wonderful memory of your mom. It will be fun to redesign with it as a focal point.

    • Pauline says:

      Its wonderful Northern Shade, to find the extra space and plants which I thought had been lost. Now that it is darker in the evenings, out will come the books and catalogues and lists made for new plants to buy, I love this part of the process! Thanks for your kind comments about the carving, soon I hope to have new plants to lead the eye!

  5. Cathy says:

    Your other commenters have said it all already , Pauline! Good to see where you are going with all your hedge and conifer trimming, and today’s pictures helped me put some of our exchanges in context. The bit about bindweed resonated, as I feel that way about it myself, although gain a certain amount of satisfaction not only from the fact that it sems to originate from a neighbouring garden (and not ours!) but also that it hasn’t actually flowered (as it is doing in the hedgerows just now), so at least I must be keeping it under control. Hope to see more of your sculptures soon.

    • Pauline says:

      Glad to know you have your bindweed under control Cathy, wish we had! If you really would like to see the other carvings in the garden, I did a post 28th May 2011 ‘Countdown to opening for the NGS’, it will soon be time to wrap them up for the winter.

  6. what a lovely opportunity even though it involves some hard work to start, when you get the shrubs cut back you will have a nice mature back drop for your new border, I love the carving and the idea of the cherub chastising the old man of the moon :o) your harvest moon border, Frances

    • Pauline says:

      Each day sees more cleared Frances, it is hard work, especially as I have 2 torn muscles in my right shoulder!! This happened when I fell over on the paving in the garden in February, I’m due to have an operation very soon so must get as much done as possible before I go in as I don’t know how much I will be able to do afterwards!

  7. oophs done it again I forget these yellow things that was mean to be a smile not ….whatever that is! lets see if this works 🙂

  8. Lyn says:

    I know it’s small-minded of me, but I’m actually pleased to see that your whole garden isn’t perfect, and that you have some problem areas to overhaul! That’s terrible, isnt it? It’s just that I always think of your garden as so accomplished, and wonder if mine is ever going to be as good, so it’s kind of a relief to see that you have weeds and overgrown plants too. Sorry. I think your idea of filling the gap in your year with this garden bed is a great one. Can’t wait to see how it develops. The carving is a lovely idea, and so skillfully done, you must smile whenever you see it.

    • Pauline says:

      Dear Lyn, couldn’t help but laugh, of course it isn’t perfect, don’t we all just show the best bits?! There is always something that needs doing and I think that now it is a mature garden there will always be a border that needs overhauling. Gardens are never static, always developing, always needing to be improved. This year has been a bit of a problem, as I said to Frances, I’ve got problems with my shoulder, can’t reach up or out sideways, trouble is I forget and there’s a loud yell! Haven’t been able to do anywhere near as much work as I would like, can only manage the odd half hour here and there. My husband has been fantastic, he doesn’t enjoy gardening, but has done far more than he normally would. Just hope that after my op, it won’t be too long before I’m back in full gardening mode once more, but even then, it won’t all be perfect!!

  9. I remember you had hurt your self earlier in the year Pauline, sorry to read it is still causing problems and needs to be operated on, becareful and don’t over do it as you could make matters worse, at least having the op at this time of year the garden is starting it’s winter slumber, Frances x

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for your concern Frances, I still have the muscle problem that started last September, doctors and consultants don’t seem to know what is wrong with me, but at least this op should stop all the pain in my shoulder from 2 torn muscles from when I fell. One can’t be fixed because I am too old!!!, thanks young doctor for telling me that, apparently the success rate for someone my age is very poor. The other muscle that is torn can be fixed thank goodness and should mean no more pain. If I have everywhere near the house looking ok, then maybe I wont be tempted out in the garden until the shoulder is better!

  10. yes young doctors can be thoughless in their comments the worse I know of was a mother I was to work with as a maternity nanny, the baby was born with problems and went into intensive care she asked me if I would work the time anyway to help with the 3 year old, when we were talking one day she told me that when the abnormality showed on the scan the young doctor got excited and was pleased! he found an abnormality, sometimes they need a strong reminder they are working with real people with very real feelings, take care, Frances

  11. Anna says:

    Sounds like a major project Pauline but one that will be most satisfying to complete. An extra 5 ft of border – almost as good as Christmas! Your moon carving is exquisite and a lovely tribute to your mother. Is it protecte?d with anything special to cope with the colder months or do you bring it in

    • Pauline says:

      Anna, the carving has a protective coat of Ronseal or Dulux weathershied but also gets covered in the winter to protect it from the frost which could cause it to split. I’m enjoying thinking of all the wonderful plants that I will be able to grow in my new spaces, as you say – as good as Christmas!

  12. catmint says:

    great project Pauline, so satisfying to do a makeover and so satisfying for us to watch from the screen and cheer you on. I understand the urgency pre-op to do as much as you can while you can. When I saw the post heading I smiled to myself and thought it could be titled ‘All Change Again Again’! The carving is beautiful and so special in its significance in relation to your mother.

    • Pauline says:

      Hadn’t realised Catmint thet you would be cheering me on!! By telling you all what I intend to do, this now means that I have to get on and do it, no excuses. Just doing a bit each day, the spaces are getting bigger and bigger so soon we will be able to improve the soil, I’d better start ordering some plants! I think my Mum would have liked the carving, she would have enjoyed the joke!

  13. You have done quite a bit to make your garden your own again. I love those tiny lavender seedlings. I planted ivy in several beds thinking it would be a great groundcover, but I did not realize how invasive it becomes. So, I will be pulling all of it out which will be a huge undertaking.

    • Pauline says:

      Ivy is a good groundcover SB, except when you want to plant other more interesting plants! Fortunately it is fairly easy to pull out and very satisfying when really long pieces come out. Hoping most of the lavender cuttings will all take, should know in a few weeks time.

  14. Cathy says:

    Thanks for directing me to the post showing your carvings Pauline (and I saw some lovely blue poppies on the way when I started searching in the wrong year) – good to see them. My favourite was Holy Trinity – and I liked the gate too. Do you still carve at all, now you are not teaching it? I have decided that what I would like to make are a large (about twelve inches across) acorn and a large conker, out of the appropriate woods, so I need to look into how successful I could be if I followed guidance in books or from the internet. Any suggestions? So sorry to hear about your discomfort and impending operation – it must be frustrating to be restricted in what you can do.

    • Pauline says:

      Yes Cathy I was still carving until I fell in February, it would be my right shoulder that I fell on, wouldn’t it! At the moment I can’t manage to raise my arm further than horizontal, forwards and sideways, even after lots of physio, but this should be fixed when I have the op. Bashing away at a large piece of wood with mallet and gouge will have to wait a while! It is certainly possible to carve using books and I’m sure the internet would be good ( no internet in the days when I started!) good luck with your acorn and conker, please let me know if you have any problems and I will try to help.

  15. Cathy says:

    Thanks Pauline for your support re the carving. I shall send healing for your arm to support you on your road to recovery.

  16. kininvie says:

    Late to this, as usual….. I’m afraid that my radical border clear-outs involve weed-killer. My excuse is that couch grass and horsetail are impossible to eradicate by hand. I also try to chop all shrub and tree roots – they just suck up all the nutrients and moisture. I’ve stolen your moon for my blogroll – let me know if you object…

    • Pauline says:

      Kininvie, I’m honoured that you want my moon for your blogroll and my mother would be tickled pink!! We have decided to resort to weedkiller if anything dares to put its head up again, had to make room to use it otherwise I would have been spraying something precious. There is a dandelion right in the middle of some day lilies so that got painted with something to make it die! I try to be organic but sometimes needs must and out comes the spray!

  17. pbmgarden says:

    I’m inspired by your renovation plans Pauline. You must have carved the sculpture also that is used for your gravitar? I like it a lot.

    • Pauline says:

      The changes PBM should bring a lot more colour to that part of the garden late on in the year and I hope, be an improvement! Yes the gravitar carving is also one of mine and was carved about 5 yrs ago, glad you like it!

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