Sunday, 27 March 2022

Into The Wilds

So when last I wrote, I was planning an assault on the Wild Wood, in an effort to clear enough space for the fence to be replaced. However, I'd forgotten that I'd also resolved to keep on top of the climbing plants this year, until I noticed that the clematis was already sending out new shoots. (Something which struck pure terror in my heart after having to wrestle with it last year.) The wood was postponed while I cut back and tied up my various climbers. Most of the last two weeks has been about restraining a honeysuckle that loves our pergola a little too much, but that's another blog...

Flowers are coming out with a vengeance. My focus is on the back garden, but there's no denying that this raised bed around the front looks fantastic this time of year, with its golden flowers matched by the forsythia blossom behind it.

And in the back garden... a mystery flower! I'm baffled by this solitary purple-speckled bud that's arisen amidst the three-corner-garlic. I don't remember anything else growing there last year. I've not tried offering it blood yet (it's not like it's in the Emo Grove); we're just watching what happens....

At any rate, it's too early in the season to prune back trees: they may bleed sap. I don't know exactly why that's a problem, but it sounds gory; I had decided the prudent course was to infiltrate the Wild Wood towards the end of spring.

Then the fence contractor came round for an inspection and I learned two things: Firstly, I will need to clear as much space as I'm willing around the fence; secondly, that he could get it done in the Easter Holidays, which means I have two weeks to conquer the Wood.

Obviously, I could have requested a later date, but if it wasn't April, we'd be looking at late summer. On balance, it's probably easier on the plant-life to be cut back now, then have the summer to recover. Not to mention I work better with a deadline. 


Into the Woods!

I scouted around the fringes, lightly pruning back stray branches as I tried to assess exactly what awaited me in the depths. I still can't figure out all the trees, but I did establish that I have three different camellias.

One pale pink / white.

This frilly pink one. Most of the leaves are green, but a few are yellow. I assume that's a sign of poor health, but I figure if it's flowering, it can't be too bad. I'm still getting to grips with pruning... balancing soil nutrients will have to wait until next year.

And finally, the one that is not photographing well. The third camellia has no (visible) blooms yet, and fewer buds. It's smaller than the other two and not pushing back against the surrounding trees. I'm hoping it will flourish if I can give it more space. (In the mean time, the other two provided me with a Mothering Sunday bouquet for my Mum!)


I had always believed that the Bay Tree was the dominant figure in the Wild Wood. Don't envision a rotund ornamental in a pot. Ours is several meters high, a general on the front lines who stands tall at the intersection of the path, the Wild Wood and the Briars. With a holly as its vigorous second, the Bay Tree holds back the Briar's attacks. One by one, their soldiers hurl themselves at it, trying to spear a path through to the Wood, but with the bay leaves starving them of sunlight, they twist around and seek refuge on their own side again.

However, as I stood next to the Bay Tree and traced the paths of the branches through the canopy, I found my eye being drawn to the very back of the wood: here lurked the Alpha Tree. The Boss. Big Daddy Tree. Queen of the Forest. The One Tree to Rule Them All.

Honestly, I'm only putting the picture up because it seems weirder not to... but it was difficult enough to spot in three dimensions; two dimensions are entirely anti-climactic. The Alpha Tree is the darker branches, just in front of the fence and growing around another, weaker tree... I think the latter is still alive, but it's a little hard to tell if it's growing new leaves or not. It's not exactly a beta tree. More like mu or nu in the rankings...

At the far left of the picture, you can see the trunk of the Bay Tree, with a branch of the Alpha Tree  going steeply up towards it. The Alpha's branch enters the foliage of the Bay and rises up until it pokes out the top like a puppetmaster who's unafraid to reveal the strings. Lower down that puppetmaster branch, you can see a secondary branch split off, heading towards the top right of the picture. This one carries on for a good two or three meters, hanging watchfully over the path where we tread unawares. 

Finally (and least visibly) from the base of the trunk, two older, thicker branches grow low along the fence itself, pushing on the lesser trees and shrubs until they cower out of its way. It starts with the white camellia which grows into the next tree which grows into the frilly pink camellia which grows into another tree which grows into a second holly which grows into the third camellia which does not do much growing at all.

I had no intention of tackling that mess head on, and I certainly didn't want to go through the Bay Tree. The easiest path was to go around the overgrown holly into the Briars' territory, head along the back fence (which is not getting replaced, thankfully), and work into the wood from the corner. After many battles year, I am no longer intimidated by the Briars.

I had previously sheared off one side of the holly to get access to the back. Behind it was the cluster of palm-type trees tall enough to be seen over the mass, and (once I brushed aside some dead grass) a large landscaping rock. I've spotted quite a few rocks scattered through the Wild Wood, which makes me all the more intrigued as to what the original layout was.

Overhead, I found a rosebriar making a straight line for the side fence, and I used that as my guide (ungratefully cutting it into pieces as I went along.) I had more holly to cut back (this holly is not having a good year, but it honestly needed to lose weight anyway...), along with some leggy shoots of buddleia. Also known as the butterfly bush, buddleia is one of the more desirable weeds in any garden, but it's definitely a weed which puts out vigorous new growth every spring with or without pruning. I had very few nerves about hacking away at it now.

Along my path I found plants I never knew were in my garden: Stinging nettles (they have obvious drawbacks, but peacock butterflies depend on them, so I'm happy to allow them here); some sort of creeper that was out-competing the ivy, to which I can only say: "Respect." (With judicious apprehension); more prettily, periwinkle, which is an invasive pain, but I have a soft spot for that spring touch of purple.

Eventually, my way was blocked by some far sturdier branches of buddleia, which had transcended from shrub to tree with a vengeance. Finally, I realised that I wasn't just dealing with the Briars and the Wild Wood; the Buddleias are a faction unto themselves. Hulked-out branches spread massively over the holly and into the Wood. It was these branches that had caused the Alpha Tree to grow over its own subjects.

I've never before appreciated just how insane buddleias run wild can get. This havoc was wrought by just one plant, though there were two or three all tangled together in the corner. As I attempted to unravel the knot of them with my eyes, I suddenly noticed something else: they had a hostage.

Once I'd spotted it, I couldn't understand how I hadn't seen it before; behind the bare branches were the evergreen leaves and white blossom of a fourth camellia. The buddleia had caged it against the very corner of the fence, forcing it to grow erect but slender in its prison. At least it could face southwest, making it the only thing in the wood that was not competing for the sunlight. Despite its diminutive spread, it was blooming prolifically.

It is clearly visible from the road, so I have no idea how I never noticed it before. Of course, it would be a lot less obvious until the past week or so when it started blooming. The flowers gazing over the fence inspire the cliche analogy of a fairy tale princess in her tower.

As you may have noticed, I embarked on this gardening challenge with a determination to find adventure. I'm not passing up a sidequest when it presents itself; we are Rescuing that Princess.

To be continued....

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Race Against Spring

 Things are growing in my garden...

There is no big display of daffodils anywhere. Instead isolated clusters are scattered throughout the garden, so on a walk-through, you suddenly come across a splash of sunny yellow. 

A technicolour primrose path has sprouted under the pergola.

Anemones brave the detritus of the Wild Wood.


I believe this is a hellebore growing in the Emo Grove. 90% of the year, it's just spiky leaves lounging sulkily at ground-level, but for a few weeks in late winter, it makes a supreme effort and drags forth this weary dark red display.

The end of winter dormancy has caught me a little off-guard. Last year, it was colder for longer and a dry, frosty April thwarted the spring growth, so the garden didn't get going until May. This year, we've had a mild winter and a wet February. I might still be worrying about late frosts, but it seems the plants are prepared to risk it.

My time of poking around the landscaping is over! Spring is the best time to plant, to transplant, to prune and probably a hundred other verbs I haven't learned yet. It's also the time to make sure the weeds are cleared back so that the less aggressive plants have room to grow, and that's been my main focus over the past few weeks.

Last year, I didn't know what was and wasn't supposed to be growing in any one spot. Greatly intimidated by the whole process, I didn't tackle the weeds seriously until May. I made a fair bit of progress over the first half of summer, but then Trog got sick, and I spent most of August inside, cuddling my dying cat. By the time I got back to the garden, the flowerbeds had been overwhelmed.

This year, I can identify some of the things that are growing, but it's still mostly a process of: "This is growing all over the place, but I haven't seen That elsewhere, so let's clear This away from That."

At least I am armed with the knowledge of which plants have the most imperial mindset, laying claim to every bit of land they can get their roots into. I spent a fair bit of the winter pulling out grass, ivy and ferns from the borders. Now that spring is here, I'm also attempting to restrict the aquilegia and three cornered garlic to just one area of the garden.

Fortunately, aquilegia is very easy to identify: it sprouts as these purple rosettes, which unfurl into frilly green leaves. It's a really pretty plant at every stage... it's just not very good at sharing with its peers.

In this garden, weeding goes hand in hand with archaeology. February's discoveries: a double decker bus, a dinosaur and a dog.

It's been a lot of work, and I do worry that it's a lot of wasted effort, that everything will just regrow from the roots and sprouts that I missed. But there's some hope: the one thing that I did manage to keep on top of last year was the dry stone wall that is our boundary from the road. A year ago, it was covered in grass, and I spent hours teasing that grass out from the rambling roots of the other plants—then three months later, I was pulling out the root-network of the hawkweed that I had inadvertently allowed to spread.

Grass is still coming up all along the wall, but these isolated clumps are a fraction of what was there last year and I can see all the different alpine plants spreading out. (This time last year, I thought there were only two different species.) While all my flowerbeds look worse than they did a year ago, the dry stone wall looks better.

I've just got to repeat what I did with the wall on the front and rear lawn borders, on the Emo Grove, on the terrace, on the gravel paths, on... Maybe best not to get too carried away.

Unlike my fence panel which got carried away by Storm Eunice. (Appreciate that segue! How witty! How seamless!)

OK, so getting carried away is a stretch for what happened to the fence panel. A rotten support post broke, letting the panel blow into the border on its leeward side. 30 square feet of timber vs a buddleia and a honeysuckle? Flattened flora, right? Not in my border. The panel bounced off the shrubs and flopped forward onto the weedy hedge on that section of dry stone wall—which fortunately kept it from collapsing into the road.

The fence isn't capable of standing up to the Cornish winds on that exposed westward side and this would be the third time I've had to get it patched up since moving in. I'm better off spending my money on a stronger fence.

But if the fence is to be replaced, it'll have to be accessible along its full length. Even the rear third. The boundary to the Wild Wood...

The point of no return. This is where the fence disappears into the Wild Wood and beyond human intervention. I have three months to reclaim it. 
Technically, it's accessible from the road side, but I'm worried that if I leave it, the fencers will just bulldoze through our wood to make their job easier. I want it to be a recognisable patch of garden so they make the effort to leave it intact. I hate having to sacrifice the wild character or the overgrown patches that support the native environment, so this will be a balancing act. 
(Please note, although I keep referring to it as a wood, I don't have some immense plot of land. It's widest point is only a couple of metres. An utterly intractable couple of metres.)

I'm hesitant to start clearing it out just yet, because there may be wildlife using the undergrowth for winter hibernation, but I have made a start at reducing the holly and bay tree that dead-end the garden path. The holly in particular is at least three times the size it should be. 
Evergreens aren't supposed to be pruned until late spring, but I decided it was worth cutting away on one side and the top in order to let light through. This also meant I had a path through to beyond the holly.

For the first time since we moved in, I was able to look into the back corner of the garden. Behold:


Yes, predictably, it's just a tangle of overgrowth. There go my dreams of a monument to an ancient civilisation. There could at least have been a mystic oracle. Sigh.

I think the 'trees' there are actually buddleia, so they can be cut back readily enough and once I cut out the ferns and briars disputing the territory, perhaps I'll uncover some feature incorporated into the original layout. But that's going to be an expedition in itself. Wish me luck.

I'll leave you with the latest update to our ex-lawn section. I had got flower pots next to the temporary compost heap, but I figured that if the tulips were determined to naturalise, I might as well try putting them in the ground. I repurposed the edging that we dug up a few weeks ago, bought a bag of soil and, ta-da! A flowerbed! One too new to have weeds!


Joining the tulips are a rosemary plant and some poppies I'm trying to rescue from a too shady border. There are no guarantees any of them will survive the transition, but there's always plan B: Choose my favourite out of the weeds that inevitably invade.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Landscaping Trials

One of the immediate puzzles of the garden was what to do with the squared-off mulched area at the foot of the lawn. (Originally the site of a greenhouse; the glass is still in the shed.)

 My first thought was that we could put a pond there. Indeed, we put down our potted pond as a trial effort and (as there were spare stones from the dry stone wall lying around) we built a small cairn around it, to create an insta-rockery feature.  It was the perfect location, nice and central, clear sunlight and a focal point when looking up the garden. A larger version would look amazing.

There turned out to be one small flaw in that plan: the site is right by the septic tank and directly in the path of the drainage field. As I don't wish to make raw sewage into a garden feature, we threw out all ideas that would involve digging.

At that point, the most obvious thing to do was to extend the lawn over the spot. I'm not wild about lawns... a well-maintained lawn is terrible for the environment (and constant work). One of my favourite things about the garden is that there isn't much lawn, so I was a little hesitant to make it bigger.

I dithered and left it for a year to see what the garden would do with the space. Predictably, the weeds took hold, predominantly toadflax which I found I rather liked. It gets very tall and looked quite striking against the background of ornamental grasses. It's a standard eco-recommendation to let a patch run wild; the centre of the garden isn't normally the suggested location, but that's what is going to happen until I run out of other garden projects.

That said, there's a pathway between the shed and the rear lawn border which connects the main garden path to the lawn / pergola. I didn't want to block that nor did I want to keep the right angle that cuts deep into the lawn, so the plan is to turn roughly half the area into lawn while the rest grows wild. 

I just had to figure out how to extend my lawn past its stone edge. To its credit, the grass was cooperating fully with seeding itself into the mulched area, but the mulch was a couple of inches below the level of the lawn while the edging stood an inch above it.

As the edging was concreted in, I borrowed a crowbar and sledgehammer from my Dad and enlisted my son's assistance. I don't typically make the children do gardening chores, because it's a quick way to kill their joy in the garden and the relaxation gardening gives me. However, I do make them join in periodically when I either need an extra pair of hands or when there's an opportunity for them to learn some practical skill.

Besides, my son was very taken with the crowbar. (So am I. Crowbars are amazing, and we're going to get one of our own.)


After about half an hour's solid effort we prised up four edging sections with chunks of concrete still attached. They're not made of the best stone (maybe limestone?), since two broke in half as I moved them around, but all the pieces can be reused. 

That's for another project though... my first priority was getting some turf  to go against those newly raw edges. My target for that was the other end of the lawn, up by the retaining wall onto the patio. That's the most likely site for the still-hoped-for pond (a 'next year' goal), so I figured we could sacrifice the grass there. 

Dutifully, I read up on the most basic method of turf-cutting: 

  1. String twine between two stakes to mark out a straight line.
  2. Using your spade, cut lines one spade-width apart into the turf. 
  3. Still using the spade, roll up the strips of turf between the lines, and transfer to desired location.  

I gathered my dubious children and we slammed that theory into the stony wall of practice.

The grass had a tendency to stick to the retaining wall and the ground beneath it was stony at best and concrete at worst. (Perhaps this is the plumbing leading to the shed?) We found the spade too unwieldy to use, but with sulky trial and error, we figured out that our best system was to perforate each line with a handheld garden fork, then cut it with a weed knife. I ended up rolling the turf by hand, using the weed knife to cut through any sticky parts. The rolls quickly got too heavy, but I would just pull them off and start afresh.

This sort of labour was painful on my back, arms and fingers. I let the children bail once we'd cut the lines so I was rolling the turf alone, but I still got three or four strips (in 12-15 pieces) done that afternoon.

At the turf's destination, I had laid the stone edging sections into a curve, as a rough guide between what we were leaving to the weeds and where we wanted the lawn to be. Our sloppily cut turf filled about half of the area to my relief and to my daughter's withering pronouncement: "You made it worse."

Strictly speaking, the time to lay turf is in spring when the new growth will help the grass establish itself. However, there are a million (my conservative estimate) garden jobs that are best done in spring, so by necessity, some of them must be done out of season. 

As 90% of my garden maintenance is weeding and at least 50% of that is pulling grass out of every part of my garden that isn't lawn, I figured that I would only need the tiniest fraction of grass to survive in order to colonise the new ground. Even if all the turf died, I was pretty sure new grass would take it over within six months.

While I was not hugely invested in nurturing the displaced grass, I did time it right before a week of forecast rain, since the internet was emphatic about daily watering. That week turned into a very wet month, but on a dry day a week later, I cut two more strips of turf, which just about filled out the rest of the area (or close enough).

The original grass was already looking better, and the new grass came up much more easily, probably due to the rain softening the ground.

One section of the stone edging was half against the flower bed and half against the lawn. I solved that problem by cutting out an extra triangle of turf to extend the border, though it meant more crowbar work to get up the stone bricks that served as edging between border and lawn. Predictably, when I replaced them, they weren't long enough for the new line. I've popped some other stones there as a temporary measure, while I keep an eye out for something that matches the bricks. (Please interpret "temporary measure" as lasting in excess of two years.)

The relaid turf is very uneven and there's still a discrepancy between the levels of the lawn, the relaid turf and the bare ground. I'm going to let the weather, roots and worms sort that out, crossing fingers that it will be stable enough by the time we start mowing again in spring. (We need to mow already, but we're procrastinating.) 

In due course, I'll remove the loose edging sections as well, and we'll just maintain that boundary with the mower, which is already what we do with the bamboo. The pathway between lawn and the paving on the other side of the shed remains indeterminate ground cover, which I'll figure out with selective weeding.

My favourite aspect of gardening is that you do a project part of the way then let nature take its course for a bit. It goes beautifully with my brand of ADHD.

Letting nature take its course is less of an option with the patch of bare earth we'd left at the front of the lawn. As said above, the vague plan is to put in a pond next year. What are we going to do for the intervening twelve months?

To start with, we've built a temporary compost heap. We'd found a pile of bricks in the garage and another on the terrace behind the greenhouse, while an old mesh door had been discarded down the side of the garden fence. (I'm not sure what this door was used for, but it's in near-perfect condition.) We stacked the bricks loose to make the sides and propped the door up against them to create a back wall, which I pull out to turn the pile. 


The door falls over with every gust of wind. One might argue it's totally irrelevant, and I removed it in this week of Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin. Our casually laid bricks, however, have withstood the gales admirably from their sheltered position.

It's not a thing of beauty, but in the cold, wet winter months, having a compost heap right off the patio is much appreciated. I have a vague intention of moving it come spring, but I don't have a place in mind, so it's very possible we'll have rotting organic matter in the foreground of our view all summer.

Some of our old flowerpots have two year old tulip bulbs stubbornly coming back up in defiance of every gardening website I've read, so I've popped those next to the compost heap to cover the last bit of bare ground. I'm gambling that I'll remember to come back to this area before the weeds re-landscape it. (The odds are not in my favour.)

As I keep forgetting to take pictures of the early spring flowers coming up, I'll leave you with the comparison shots:

One Year Ago


This Week

I am absolutely cheating by taking the current picture on a sunnier day to make it look better than it is, and I am unrepentant.


Sunday, 6 February 2022

Secret Gardening

Over the past few months, I've attempted to write a blog but never finished. The whole life thing is going backwards, and I haven't felt like chronicling my ongoing failures. Any self-respecting novelist would fast forward to the turning point of the saga, with a couple of paragraphs in which the protagonist reflects on the bleakness of the intervening years and what they've lost along the way.

Reflecting on bleakness in real time is tedious, but blogging is therapeutic for me. Fortunately, I'm not an influencer, and I don't have a brand to maintain. So now and for the foreseeable future, this is a Gardening Blog.

The garden has been the silver lining of my unemployment: a fantastically constructive diversion that lets me escape from my issues while still feeling like I'm making progress with something. It's a fully landscaped, rampantly overgrown jungle of native and exotic  plants, which I am trying to mould into something that suits us.


The story of my garden really begins in 2001, when the house was bought by a retiree who had travelled extensively during the course of her career and wished to recreate various garden styles she had seen overseas. Based on what lies over the neighbour's hedge, I presume the original garden was just a simple slope of grass, with perhaps a tree or two, and the inevitable paved rectangle of patio at the back door. Under the Retiree's supervision, the grassy slope became a geometric series of tiers with themed flowerbeds separated by a gridwork of paths that would make a Roman proud.

However, over the next fifteen years, the Retiree's health declined, and she was unable to tend her garden. The ornamental plants that survived expanded well beyond their designated territory while native plants doggedly reclaimed ground. 

The next owners were a young family, keen to have a go at the wilderness. They tidied up the main paths, eliminated some hazards, planted some fruit trees and defined the outdoor spaces they wanted. When they moved out, the mother thoughtfully left a letter detailing what she knew about the garden: a starting guide for the new owners. Us.

Here is the garden when we took it over, brown and dormant in midwinter.

Spoiler alert, the Family was much better at keeping everything tidy than I am.

The Retiree left a legacy of hydrangeas and roses... I seem to discover one or the other every month. (OK, some of them are probably ones I found before and forgot about; the point is, there are enough for that!) The Family's garden told a tale of children at play: I have a small collection of plastic toys that I've excavated from flower beds including a shark and a dinosaur. Also the swing on the pergola which was a stroke of genius.


The pergola leads from the lawn to the terrace at the back of the garden. For the Retiree, this was the site of an ornamental pond; for the Family, it was the location for a greenhouse; for Me it's the secret base of the briars that have annexed all land within six feet of the back fence. On occasion, I sally forth with my loppers, and the ensuing carnage results in thorny cuttings all over the terrace. Most are swept into the garden waste bag, but many escape my broom by falling into the cracks of the paving stones. In other words, the terrace is a booby-trapped no-man's land, where even the cat refuses to walk.


The Briars (mostly rambling roses but some brambles have enlisted as well) would probably take over the entire garden, but they're in a stand-off with the Wild Wood that is, in theory, an ornamental border along the fence. I assumed it was a single row of large shrubs and trees, until my parents peered into it and spotted camellias blooming at the back. We cut down a large box shrub to reveal them... sort of.

 They were clearly planted for winter colour, but they were barely visible and struggling for light. By summer, when the weigela had leafed and blossomed, it was even worse. 

A year later, I still haven't made it to the camellias, I still have to google the spelling of weigela, and I honestly have no idea what's in the very back corner as any path is barred by a wall of holly and bay tree. 


I recently pulled a three metre rose briar out of the tangle. The proper dramatic convention would have been for some clue to the mysteries beyond to emerge with it, snagged upon the thorns: a bone, a priceless artefact, a note from a long-lost castaway....  Sadly, my rambling roses are habitually inconsiderate and failed to bring back the loot.

While the Briars and the Wild Wood remain disputed territory, the young family made the rest of the garden safely accessible, even if the flower beds are still wildly overcrowded in summer. Between the pergola and the Wild Wood stands the Scarlet Grove a.k.a. the Bloody Grove a.k.a. the Emo Grove. 

 All summer long, it's a blaze of reds and hot pinks, which effectively draw the eye when you're looking up the garden from the conservatory or patio. See the below picture, taken from the patio two months later, when the lantern tree was fading but (to its right) the poppies were in neon bloom.

A sea of ornamental grass (and random individual flowers, struggling to stay afloat) divides the lawn area from the landscaping, concealing the gravel paths. We've named it Trog's Savannah, because he used to love sitting around there, chewing on the grasses and basking in the sunlight. 

The Retiree had a shed with attached greenhouse between the grasses and the lawn. The shed is still in use, but the Family tore the old greenhouse down as it was in dangerous disrepair. Over its foundation, they laid down mulch to create a play area for their children. My kids being older, we weren't sure what to do with the space, so we put down our pond-in-a-pot and stacked random garden stones (mostly found in the garage) around it. By the end of the summer, the whole area had been claimed by a jungle of giant weeds; one of this year's tasks is to excavate our own pond.

In front of the mulch is a small lawn, which brings us back to the first picture, because I don't have an updated overview: 


The lawn is a nice space for sitting on (but not a huge mowing commitment), with interest provided by ever more borders. The Retiree must be responsible for the inexplicable stand of bamboo (kept effortlessly out of shot by the egocentric spindle tree), but the front and rear flowerbeds may have been partly replanted by the Family: there are quite a few herbs and tactile plants popular in modern sensory gardens for young children.


Up until I acquired this secretive beast of a garden, I thought I didn't like gardening and wasn't any good at it. My chief (only) asset was my avidly horticultural parents, and it was on the strength of this resource that I took the plunge and bought the house. They have proved invaluable for plant identification and as an interim source of garden tools. Most of my house maintenance expenses have been on buying the necessary equipment to manage the garden.

Fortunately the most difficult and expensive part has been done for me. Thanks to the retiree, I've inherited a full collection of plants laid out to provide colour and interest year round, all of which are hardy enough to survive neglect, along with literal tonnes of landscaping material (which has fortunately been distributed in smaller weights throughout the garden). With so many resources at my disposal, my creativity has run wild, and after a year of furious internet-based self-education, I'm feeling ambitious....


There's a favourite quote of mine that I've always used figuratively. Now I'm taking it literally, revelling in a hobby without deadlines.* 

"Live as if you are going to die tomorrow; Garden as if you are going to live forever." 
         Rudyard Kipling

* NB: Gardening is technically full of deadlines: tasks that must be done by a certain time of year or at a specific stage of the plant's development. I'm just ignoring them, secure in the knowledge that if the garden's survived this long, it can survive me.