A garden update: starting the unveiling, part 1

If you’ve been following Hidden Valley Wales for a while you’ll have seen our Big Garden Project slowly unfolding. When we moved into the house nearly two years ago (two years!) we inherited a very overgrown garden. It’s a traditional productive cottage garden with great shape and structure but large areas had been let go for a number of years. The spaces closest to the house were great with a small herb garden and mature borders, all surrounded by a flagstone terrace that wraps around the front of the house and provides a real suntrap for morning coffees, weekend lunches, evening glasses of wine…however, the further down the garden you move the wilder it got. As the garden is all to the front of the cottage it’s what we look out on every day so it was really important to us to get it sorted and make it as lovely as we knew it once was. Now I’m ready to start unveiling what we’ve been up to all this time, although you can see glimpses of it herehere and here.

I’ve tried to draw out the plan of the garden here so you can visualise it. Disclaimer: I’m no artist, as you can see, but hopefully me and my coloured pencils help you navigate your way around a bit. You can see there are a number of different areas within the garden as it all gently slopes down towards the stream at the bottom of the valley. I”m going to split this update into three I think to make it a little less wordy and difficult to get through. So, this is part 1: what I grandly call the top terrace. On the plan below it’s the section at the very bottom.

Garden plan

The space closest to the house – aka the top terrace – is more formal with flower borders and the herb patch. We had less heavy work to do here – just some patching up of the grass with grass seed where we’d removed the geraniums which colonise every patch of garden they possibly can, tidying up the borders and the herb patch and keeping the terrace free of the weeds that spring up between the flagstones every time my back is turned.

The herb patch with borders behind, January 2014
And again, June 2015
Herb patch with borders behind filling out for summer, June 2015
Border before it got too jam-packed this year, June 2015

We inherited this amazing stone trough under the window which we’ve planted up this year with verbena and some summer-flowering bulbs. It’s a riot of red and pink. Garden colour schemes are not our strong point.

Empty stone trough and old stable door which was swollen shut, January 2014
Stone trough, July 2015 – yes, I know the verbena and lilies clash

I’ve also added a cold frame which might form the basis of another post, I don’t know, it could tip me and you over the edge of gardening dullness. Anyway, let’s just say that the terrace is a lovely spot for coffee drinking, reading, contemplating and wine drinking but mainly wine drinking.

This beautiful valerian grows out of all the terrace walls

This year we bought some new garden furniture for the terrace to replace the broken old bench we’d used last year during the building project as we can now safely have nice things without the threat of them being covered in mortar, dust and general building crap. So, a really nice new set from Cox and Cox arrived this spring which we’ve been enjoying through the summer.

Terrace, January 2014, complete with our broken blue bench
Terrace, July 2015, with Cox and Cox garden furniture set. The stable door has been replaced with a glass door to make the most of the views.

We also got this little bench to go on the top area of lawn as it’s light enough to move around easily to catch the sun in the mornings.

Bench, modelled by Hodges

Actually, there is still more work yet to do here. We have a project round the side of the house which is for another day (year) – we removed an old shed here and have yet to completely decide what to do with the space. More of that another time. Also, the borders that I said were mature? They’re actually mature to the point of being jam packed – the rampant geraniums need thinning out and the crocosmia need dividing so that’s something for this autumn and winter. I also have a large empty space in the border where we’ve repaired the fallen-down wall which needs something.

Still, for this year, we’re delighted with what we’ve achieved. A great spot to sit, drink wine and look out at the rest of the garden and the mountain beyond.

View from the garden. I staged the white horse…

Next up: part 2 and the vegetable patch!


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