Well, the garden is almost approaching the state I imagined when I plotted out my ideas in the spring – you may have seen my beginning of summer post here. I bought the bare minimum of furniture last summer from Ebay – the amazing double lounger, a large parasol, an 8ft folding table (easier to store over the winter than a large wooden one, and easily disguised with a pretty tablecloth), and then there’s the lovely John Lewis Croft Bench that my mother gave me as a housewarming present – and now I have to work out what else I need.
I took these photos in the middle of May, just over a month ago and goodness what a transformation from my beginning of April post. I hired a local gardener/handy man who did the brute force work: he dug out the dead box hedge, weeded all the borders and beds, dug over the vegetable patch, weeded and cleared all the flagstones and patios, pruned all the hedges, and helped arrest the gradual encroachment of the Virginia creeper.
Meanwhile I went to Camden Garden Centre, and to my local Camden Morrison’s and spent around £150 on plants. I bought a few key shrubs and plants – a peony, euphorbia, a beautiful Choisyia (Mexican Orange Blossom), as well as umpteen boxes of bedding plants for my hanging baskets and window boxes. (Nicotiana, violas, pansies, ivies, lavenders, mint and the palest of pink fuchsias.) I also robbed a large alchemilla mollis from my father’s garden border.
Above – lovely empty main bed waiting for plants
The amount of garden waste has been quite astonishing: this is the box hedge chopped into pieces, stuffed into IKEA bags, and on its way to the Regis Road Recycling Centre in Kentish Town in the boot of a Zipcar.
The ash tree is now in full bloom, and providing some much needed shade. I’ve also got the large 3metre umbrella from last year up again. I spent ages looking for parasol weights – first I bought the ones that needed to be filled with ballast, and I just couldn’t face dealing with builders’ sand, and water wasn’t heavy enough, so I bought these brilliant ones. (Was surprised to discover that weights cost the same as the parasol – around £50 each.)
Below is the back wall and patio with the bare patch where the box hedge was removed to the left – the plan is for this to be weeded and I want to find an outdoor sofa set to place here for lounging and working. It’s a great spot for both as it’s pretty much always in shade, so it also means that any garden furniture I put here won’t be bleached by the sun. (I’ve got my eye on this set.)
We’ve now dug over the vegetable patch and I’ve found a new home for the Japanese Maple (Acer) via the NextDoor app, as I don’t have another bed for it, and it’s not very happy being stuck in this corner which it has outgrown.
The small cream canvas umbrella was from Argos last summer – a bargain at around £30, but I bought the wrong size stand and it blew over one day and a strut broke, so I need to replace this and buy a heavier stand. Still extremely pleased with the double lounger. (The cushions were from Homesense, and the delightful leopard fleece rug was also from Ebay)
I bought this pretty hanging basked on Columbia Road a few years ago. That’s rosemary in the bottom, and I plan to put fuschias in the top basket.
I am extremely pleased with my herb window box – I can just lean out of the kitchen window and snip what I need. I’ve planted thyme, oregano, sage, chives, Greek, and Italian basil. The silver zinc planter is one of five I’ve bought from Primrose for all my window sills.
Here are the plants I’ve collected waiting to go in the beds, borders, and baskets. Camden Morrison’s has been a particular joy and the source of most of my bedding plants.
I was sent this mint box by John Lewis last summer and, whilst it died down over the winter, I was astonished to see it thrive from spring onwards and it’s now providing me with plenty of leaves for fresh mint tea.
Wilco has the most amazingly cheap large terracotta pots (although I’ve yet to see how they last the winter).