As it is going to be a while before I write new wedding posts I decided to do regular posts about the garden. These will show how it changes through the year and serve as a journal for me, particularly as I am bad at remembering which plants are where! I see something coming through and have to wait until I recognise the foliage or form and then it comes flooding back.This first post though is to show how it all started and has evolved over the 6 years we have been here. We are in lovely spot in East Sussex on the River Brede near Rye. We overlook open pasture which has sheep grazing from when the lambs appear in March to about October.
Above is looking down the garden from the back of the house to the river and beyond taken in October 2013, the year we moved in. Below is taken at the same time but looking towards the house, before the renovations.
The garden faces north west but gets the sun for most of the day. It is dry with an average annual rainfall of 650mm (25.95 inches) and being close to the sea we do get our fair share of wind. It is probably classed as a medium sized garden measuring approximately 40m in length and 13m wide (130ft x 40ft).
I do not claim to be an expert, I just have a love of gardening and passion for flowers and plants. I did do a garden design course many years ago and my husband and I have created 3 gardens virtually from scratch. Outside space has always been important to us and being a florist it is great to have material on hand.
We did not really get started until April 2015 because up until then we still had the florist shop and not much time for gardening. The garden was essentially a rectangle of lawn with 5 trees, 3 apple, a cherry and plum. There was one small flower bed between the shed and then summer house.The first job was to decide on a design and wanted one that could be on going as we did not want to create all the beds in one go as they would have needed to be planted up to prevent weeding over (we have done that before!) and that would have been very costly.
My husband suggested, and I was hesitant at first, to create circular beds around the trees on the left side of the garden. My hesitation was that the trees would take too much moisture and light but we wanted to maintain the view and therefore did not want central beds. There also had to be places to sit, pathways and the more functional aspects like water butts, greenhouse, washing line, compost and storage areas.
Initial design decided and on to the plants. There can be many reasons which dictate the plants you choose; location, soil type, the style of garden you wish to create, scent, colour and of course your own personal favourites. I also have the added requirement of growing plants, shrubs and flowers I can use in my business. If you do not know where to begin a good rule of thumb is to look at what is growing in gardens around you, if they thrive there then the likely hood is they will in your garden too.
I did a basic plant plan for each bed with the idea of adding more over time and topping up with annuals. The garden style is loosely cottage garden but it is important to have a structure of shrubs both evergreen and deciduous as they help to give interest all year. The above selection got us started and included Euonymus, Spiraeas, Philadelphus, Guelda Rose (Vibernum), Cornus, Elaeagnus, Cardoon, Bronze Fennel, Sambucus nigra (Black elder), Senecio or Brachyglottis as it is now called and my must have favourites of Hardy Geraniums, Alchemilla mollis, and Sedums. There were Clematis, Honeysuckle, Fuschia, Forsythia, Ribus and Roses already in the boundary hedgerows and over the shed which really helped.
The planting was fairly sparse but gave room for growth and you really have to think of 3 to 5 years for a garden to establish.
Over the next couple of years we added paths, a veg bed and greenhouse. I mean ‘the Royal We’ as it was my husband who did most of the heavy work with my supervision of course!
Also the summerhouse became my studio.
We added perennials including astrantia, astilbe, delphiniums, lupins, peonies, penstemons, many grown from seed and more recently various grasses.
The next major job was to expand the beds by removing the grass between them so they all linked up.
The above was taken in June 2017 showing the linked beds and lavender totally obscuring the path but who cares when the scent wafts around as you brush past! We grew annuals from seed which filled the gaps in the boarders and gave great colour.
In January 2018 ‘we’ created another bed for a cutting garden which would have loads more annuals for me to use.
And there it is planted up with sweet peas, cosmos, amaranthus, larkspur, nigella and cornflower.
And this last one is from June last year showing the lupins, delphiniums and ammi in all their glory. I hope you have enjoyed the journey so far as much as we did creating it.
The next post will be about this year and how we start getting the garden prepared for the seasons ahead.