The History of our – now – Yellow Book garden

The Pergola in 2010.

The story of our garden – from scrub to Yellow Book in less than 3 years – but still under development!

This and future blogs relatings to this topic are copied from my blog on a Gardening website – I have kept some sort of record there of my garden activities, plus garden visits etc, so I am going to copy them here by date order – the earliest first.

Blog written April 17th 2011

I plant for the wildlife as well as myself. Real plantaholic in a quite eclectic way, but lover of cottage garden flowers especially. Member of Hardy Plant Society and RHS and Kew. Especially like heucheras and pulmonarias and clematis and have some 30 plus different ones as well as hellebores.

Five years ago we bought a London flat and found ourselves with a garden some 30*11 metres in size – much to our surprise as we had been expecting a patio! And were quite looking forward to it at that… Still we took on the challenge and went for it. But our original garden was scrub and brambles with nothing to save except a rather fine Silver Birch and a healthy fig tree.

So we cleared the garden completely – everything went back to bare earth and we re-built – or rather our Landscaper did… including putting in a rainwater harvesting system and also lighting was installed. The rainwater harvesting installation was quite a job – we found the tank wouldn’t go through our garden gate and despite thinking about going over neighbour’s fences, we found no-one had a wider entrance than we did – so over the gate it had to go! Scaffolding came and was built and the very large tank – it looked like a railway  tanker with a chimney and all, was manually hauled over this contraption and slid down the other side. And into its large, manually dug again, hole it went and back-filled with top soil and now a alpine plant bed sits on top of it and all you can see of it is an access hole cover.

So we employed a garden designer in 2007 and then amended her designs! We live in an Arts and Crafts Conservation Area so we thought the garden should echo the ideas of Gertrude Jekyll and Lutyens and set about designing and planting the garden with this in mind. More formal nearest the house and less formal as you went away. Near the house we have patio and terraces and as you go down the wheelchair accessible slope – no steps as I am disabled – you encounter the themed beds – red, blue, grasses and acers, and then the wildlife pond and its bee friendly planting near the end and at the very back a ‘woodland’ walk – although the trees are not yet very high!

Our first plants were put in the Spring of 2008 and we opened the garden in 2009 for our local Garden Open Day and then again in 2010 for the Red Cross and this year we will be opening for the Yellow Book scheme on July 7th.

To improve the soil which is typical London clay with a slight acidity, we added several ton of manure – which was dug in by our gardener and his partner. I confess to being the ‘Lady’ gardener – due to my physical problems I can only spend limited time in gardening and can also not dig or any heavy work. So I buy plants – lots of them – and do some planting and dead-heading. As an example today I was planting up 16 pulmonaria bare-root plants that just arrived from Thomson and Morgan and also started planting up our green wall – which takes over 100 plants to fill! We use the planting pockets of the green walls to hide the water-station down the garden which holds our hoses and taps for the back of the garden – water being pumped from our tank or the mains depending on a) need – all acers get rainwater by default of course; or b) amount of rain we’ve had and thus amount in the tank!

So now I’m tired and my back aches, so I’ve come in to rest and found myself writing a blog about how our garden has grown!

The other plants that arrived this week have come from Crocus which I’ve used quite a lot but there website is now very odd – I can only use it from my work computer not from home at all, and I’ve tried both Google Chrome and Explorer- which came in good condition and as described; and some from which were not in such good condition, now were they as described. First time I’ve used them and not going to use them again. More on that later perhaps.

Anyway, got to go and cook supper now. This is such a busy time in the garden – expect I will be planting more in the green wall pockets tomorrow.


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