Before and after.

I found a photograph album which contained the before and after photos which we took when making the garden here years ago, or , if you like, how we turned , not quite a field,  more wall to wall grass, into the garden that we have today. This was before the digital age so I have just photographed the photos and hope they will be ok. This first photo is of one of our neighbours!!


Field fence

This fence was all that there was between us, he looked as if he could walk straight through, so the first border that I made was here. Also, this garden gets all the north and east wind that blows across the fields in the winter, so the few bushes that the previous people had put in were very wind burnt. I happily planted it up with various shrubs, but the fence only being 4ft high, was no obstacle to the bull and his lady friends, they leant over, said thank you very much and ate the lot!

Field border

This is how it looks now, we raised the height of the fence by adding a trellis fence panel along the top which gave the trees and shrubs a chance to grow. The cows now just keep their side trimmed, which is very kind of them, in return , my hedge forms the only shade for them in the field when it’s sunny, its nice when I am on my knees weeding to have a big face looking through almost at ground level and their warm breath being blown at me! The difference in the garden is amazing, it is now sheltered from the winter winds and micro climates have been created for plants that need them.

Field border

Still by the field, but looking the other way to where we put the greenhouse on the back of the garage.  Two 50 gallon water butts have been added to collect the rain water from the roof and 3 large compost bins placed by the fence.

Field border

Later an arch way was added to help hide the water butts, with a climber added and the essential shed. I quickly realised that making this garden was going to cost a fair amount of money, paving slabs, bricks, cement, sand, gravel and wood for various jobs don’t come cheap, never mind the plants, so I approached 3 local colleges and asked them if they would like me to teach woodcarving at night school, thank goodness they all said yes! My husband is pretty good at DIY and he much prefers to do that than gardening so he was happy while I did all the digging for the new borders.Dread to think what it all would have cost if we had had to get someone in to do it all for us, just wouldn’t have been able to do it. The soil here is very heavy clay, could have made pots with it if I had been a potter, so  first of all I killed off the grass after having formed the shapes with a hosepipe.Then it was all dug in , compost, ash and grit were added and all mixed together to make  nice soil to plant into – gosh I must have been fit in those days, it was really hard work!

Back corner

In the back garden after the conservatory was put on, what was the original patio, we needed a new sitting area. Plans were drawn up on the back of envelopes and we ended up with a corner arbour covered with honeysuckle.

Back gravel with arbour

On the occasion when it gets hot in the summer – when was that I hear you cry – we retreat here with a good book and a long drink of something cold! We cut the lawn back quite a bit so that we could have a gravel area in front while we sat and looked towards the woodland at the back.

Rose garden, front

I wasn’t happy with the front garden for quite some time, it was nearly all lawn between the house and garage, I tried cutting a circle, but that didn’t look right, eventually one day, looking up at the garage roof, I decided that if we had an octogon, it would match the corners on the roof.

Front garden

No sooner said than done, got rid of all the grass and made the beds which became the rose beds with box balls on every corner. I must stress that we just did one or two projects each year, not all at once! It was all very hard work but we could see the improvement as one new area joined onto the next. Working all day in the garden and then going out at night time, teaching,  to earn the money to finance it all was tough at times, but so worth it, we decided.

Long view

The long view from the back door has changed a few times, beds were cut , dug and planted up, but still something wasn’t right. Eventually, by looking at the house and garden together, it dawned on me what was wrong.

Long view

The house is so angular and curved beds just didn’t look right with it, so curves were turned into 90 degree corners and bingo, it all looked so much better, they looked as though they belonged together at last. All the reading of garden design books had paid off eventually!

Bog garden

Up near the top of the garden, the previous people had planted quite a few trees and shrubs, but they weren’t looking very happy. I found that the soil in that area never dries out, in fact it is over an underground stream. I managed to move most of the shrubs without losing any, they were used when planting new borders. The Eucalyptus tree that you see here died after a few years, it was far too wet for it.

Bog garden

When planted up with bog plants, it looked so much better and the plants have always been really happy. Two ladies in the village, sisters, told me that their father used to farm this land when it was part of the field next door. When their father had bought his new tractor,  when they were little, he wasn’t going to risk it to plough this corner of his field, so out came the old reliable shire horse, that is the sort of soil we had to contend with!

Old pond

This was the raised pond that the previous people built, but when our first grandson was born we had visions of him as a toddler, climbing the wall and falling in before anyone could do anything to stop him. We dug a new pond, yes ” we”, I started and got half way, then my husband got fed up with how long it was taking me and he finished it in no time at all! We moved the wildlife, the water and the sludge from the bottom of the old pond to the new one. In all, we moved 33 newts, 7 frogs, 1 toad, goodness knows how many shrimp like creatures and anything else that wriggled in the mud !  The new pond is now fenced off so all grandchildren are safe. The old pond is now an alpine scree, the only part of the garden which has fantastic drainage, we filled it half full of rubbish, then a very gritty mixture of soil, getting more and more gritty the higher you got,  in effect, it is a huge planter, the plants that are there now seem very happy.

New pond

At about this time my mother developed dementia and the decision was made to bring her to live with us for the rest of her life.  Looking back, it was a very special time we had together, she ended up just like a child of about 3 yrs, wandering round after me, holding my hand. She needed constant care, so obviously the garden took a back seat while she was with us and no more projects were done for about 3 yrs.

First compost

Back now trying to finish the alterations, finish the new pond area, make the area to the left of the pond and the area that we wanted as the fruit and vegetable garden. This huge mound was our original compost heap, but got moved to the new bins by the garage.


In place of the compost heap, my husband put up a pergola so that we could walk through to the very top of the garden. In the summer this is covered with roses and a variety of clematis. To the left, by the field again, there are a couple of apple trees and a shady bed where I grow some of my Meconopsis.


When we had finally got rid of all the rubbish that we couldn’t compost, it was time to make the raised beds for the vegetables. We decided on raised beds because this is another very wet area in the garden,  even though it is the highest point in the garden and we didn’t think the veg would stand a chance otherwise. This was the last area that we altered just at the same time that I retired from teaching at night school – that was lucky !!

Raised beds

We have enjoyed the creating of it all, hopefully we  will be here for at least another 10 yrs, then by the time we are 80 yrs old, I will be ready for a smaller garden or maybe we could put it all back to grass again, what do you think !!!

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18 Responses to Before and after.

  1. wellywoman says:

    Your garden is so beautiful and just shows how much hard work and love you have lavished on it. It must be hard to have to think about it leaving it. Hopefully you’ll feel better soon. I think it’s a difficult thought for all gardeners, the prospect of not being able to garden. I wonder what percentage of enjoyment of gardens is the doing and what is the being in the garden. For me I’m sure I get more pleasure from creating and maintaining the garden. We still haven’t got any garden furniture after 5 years of living here. If I do sit in the garden it isn’t long before I’ve spotted something that needs doing. Thank you for sharing your photos, I love seeing how gardens have been created over time.

    • Pauline says:

      I think I’m like you WW, we don’t sit for long in the garden, there is always something that makes us get up. We bought a swinging seat that we have put under the old oak tree, ready to swing into our old age, we didn’t use it once last year !!! Must make sure we do this year! I think I get more enjoyment from creating,making plans and working in the garden, neither of us are really people who enjoy sitting, we would rather be doing, even when we are on holiday. Hopefully the doctors will soon sort me out, then I will be back gardening properly once more, it’s not the same when someone else is doing it for you!

  2. Also have to learn to pace myself. Busy cutting back years of neglected overgrowth at Plum and Apple Creek. My fault, sort of snuck up on me over the last 4 years. Hope you’ll be back in that garden soon. It looks a delight!

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Diana, we all think we can go on for ever don’t we, unfortunately the body thinks otherwise! I think working in the garden, little and often in future is the way to go, for me anyway.

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    Very nice to be able to look back at the garden, I hope to be able to do the same in years to come 😀
    Sorry to hear that you are having health problems, I do hope they manage to find a solution so you can get back outside and gardening.; it need not be heavy, hard work. Just being outside is great for us 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Looking through the photos brought back such happy memories Liz, really enjoyed the planning and making of the garden. My husband is doing far more than he used to but still daren’t let him any where near the weeding, he wouldn’t recognise something special that had seeded itself!! A little and often will have to be my motto from now on!

  4. Hi Pauline,
    Gosh, you have an amazing looking garden. It looks huge in the pictures.
    Thanks so much for your comment on my ‘Growing Old’ post. As a wood carver and garden lover, I bet you would get along famously with my Mom. I found your reminiscences about holding hands with your own Mom so touching. It is so hard to watch a parent falter, isn’t it?
    My garden is a little over 10 years old now, but is far than complete. Are they ever done? It was interesting to follow your garden through its history. I was sorry to read that your health has kept you from gardening. Hopefully, your doctors will get your medications right and you will return to good health soon!

    • Pauline says:

      The garden is about 2/3rds of an acre Jennifer which was super when I was 47 yrs old!
      Reading your post “Growing old” brought back memories of my Mum, we were in the fortunate position of being able to look after her, thank goodness, it was a very precious time together, even though lots of tears were shed along the way by both of us.
      I don’t think gardens are ever finished Jennifer, borders that I made ten yrs ago now need tweaking, the planting needs refreshing, and I think that is the joy of gardening, always something new to do. Thanks for your good wishes.

  5. Lyn says:

    Pauline, your garden has me gasping! It’s all so beautifully balanced, in shape, line, colour, texture, masses and voids, materials, in fact every way I can think of! I’m in awe of you. I hope you are able to enjoy it for many more years.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you so much Lyn for your lovely comments. I’m sure I will enjoy it for some time yet, I think maybe a lot more mulching, to cut down on the weeding is what I need, to ease the work load.

  6. Cyndy says:

    Pauline, I loved this post, as it makes me feel as though I’ve been in your garden, and walked with you while you told the story of its making and remaking, with the added benefit of your “before” shots. Best of luck in regaining your health and energy for the garden – I look forward to seeing what you do next 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      I think the next change is just to the planting in the bog garden Cyndy. Last year we saw such wonderful bog gardens while we on holiday in Scotland that I was inspired to plant lots of candleabra primulas and make it a rainbow garden, so a bit of planting to do, and a bit of splitting of what is already there. There is always tweaking to do, a garden is never finished!

  7. Alberto says:

    Dear Pauline, I’m nearly speechless. I love before/afters and this is definitely interesting. Your garden has always looked amazing and it is very exciting to know how it evolved, why and how. I was moved when I read about your mother and I’m worry to hear they didn’t find a cure suitable for you yet, I wish you are going out and dig again very very soon.

    Your veg garden looks amazingly big, will you post some pics of it?

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Alberto for your lovely comments. We did enjoy the making of the garden even though it was hard work at the time! At the moment I can manage little bits of gardening, 2 or 3 times a day, hopefully it will get more as the weeks go by.
      Will certainly post pics of the veggie garden when this years crop of food is growing, that is, if I can photograph the food before we eat it!!

  8. You know what they say – a garden that is finished – is dead.

  9. Frank says:

    I know it’s a little late for a comment, but this post is so interesting and it’s great being able to see all the changes and the progression. In hindsight it’s great to know your health has returned and things are moving right along again. Looking forward to reading about the next ten years!

    • Pauline says:

      Frank, you have gone back into history!! When I look at the garden now, its hard to believe how it was when we moved here. Now its a mature garden that needs a firm hand each year cutting things back before they take over. My health is a lot better thank you, than it was when I wrote the post, but still not wonderful, I have to pace myself and just do a bit at a time. I think maybe in 10 years time it will definitely be time to move, I will be 80 then and I know the garden will be far too big to manage!

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