A Jetty Garden.

DSC_0020 On a beautiful warm evening in August we had a magical evening with my son, Bertie and his delightful partner Betty who is a very talented artist. She drew the picture of me pushing Pip in the wheelbarrow which I use as a gravatar image. She also created the picture of me worshipping snowdrops for my snowdrop posts. The Beastie in my ‘Something funny in the woodshed’ post was hers too. She has promised me more pictures for my blog for which I am very grateful. She is so talented and she makes me look so young when she draws a picture of me. Thank you Betty.
Bertie and Betty are not their real names, but for some reason best known to themselves these are the names they use for their work. These two lovely people are clever, funny and incredibly creative. They are also quite mad but this is part of their charm. You never quite know what they will do next. Of course these people don’ t live in an ordinary house like other people. They live on a converted Thames sugar lighter moored on a beautiful river in Suffolk. This is the view from their boat.


Living on a boat doesn’ t mean that they don’ t have a garden. Far from it. They have created a wonderful jetty garden with everything growing in pots. My son is as bad as me for acquiring yet more and more plants. I am impressed at his greenfingers because everything looks so healthy. Betty too loves her garden.

They have lots of dramatic foliage with huge tree ferns and bamboos. They have Acers and Fatsia japonica with lovely foliage. Their hostas are bigger and healthier than any I have seen anywhere.
I love the Hydrangea paniculata ‘ Limelight’ in front of Hosta ‘ Sum and Substance’.
 They have fruit trees including apples and  a fig. They even have a Magnolia’ Susan’ which is a very good choice. Most of the impact comes from the lovely green foliage plants but they have flowers too.

There are even rooms ; one is for the barbecue and table and chairs.

The grass Hakonechloa macra is huge and healthy. The tree on the right of the picture below is a mimosa; Acacia pravissima which my son grew from seed.

As darkness fell my son lit the fire so that we could linger outside and put the world to rights in the lovely sitting area. Last time we went there was even an old fashioned standard lamp out here and a beautiful rug.
Little lights came on and the garden looked like fairyland.

We were sad to go home at the end of the evening. But it is always interesting walking past Betty’ s shed. As I said she is an artist but she is also a beachcomber and a magpie and she always collects weird and wonderful objects.
And off we went down the passage and into the darkness of the wood. One last look back into the magical garden.

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66 Responses to A Jetty Garden.

  1. elaine says:

    What an amazing space – just shows what you can do with a bit of imagination and green fingers. Bertie and Betty sound like fun people to be around.

  2. What a remarkable nest! Bertie and Betty are terribly clever and resourceful. An evening here, relaxing on the red sofa with a glass of wine while fire and fairy lights illuminate the night, must be pure enchantment.

  3. Absolutely gorgeous! Amazing what can be achieved in a small space, even without soil. They’ve created a magical space. Can’t believe they managed to create separate areas among all that planting! He must get his greenfingers from Mum! 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I think he also gets his plant obsession from his Mum. Before he made the outdoor garden he grew orchids. But not just one or two orchids. He could not go out without coming back with an orchid. You couldn’ t move for orchids. There was no room to put anything because everywhere was thick with orchids. I think Betty was very relieved when he turned his attention to the outside area.

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Love this creative, eclectic space.

  5. Now that is just a wonderful garden! It looks like such an enchanting space, one you’d love to relax and socialise in.

  6. Flighty says:

    What a lovely post and wonderful pictures. xx

  7. Benjamin says:

    That is quite amazing…Brilliant post, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  8. What an idyllic place. Both of them have worked really hard to achieve a welcoming space in their unconventional home – just goes to show what can really be achieved with container gardening. Well done Bertie and Betty.
    Thanks for sharing it with us Chloris.

  9. rusty duck says:

    I bit of me would love to live like that..

  10. Lovely, lovely, lovely! A boat with a jungle of a garden and flowers too. Creature comforts in the form of light, fire and sofa. The place looks artistic and Bertie and Betty sound like the characters from a childrens short story. magical.

  11. AnnetteM says:

    Amazing what you can do on a boat in containers. Is the boat a slug free zone or do they walk the tightrope on the mooring ropes? I guess not looking at those hostas. A great post!

    • bertiebooth says:

      We have lots of slugs. I occasionally have to go out on slug patrol with my torch at night. The last time I went out I discovered around 50 slugs in about five minutes.

      However, each mission leaves me feeling a bit wretched because I let the slugs fall between the gaps of my jetty into the estuary below. If karma exists, then I am destined to boil in the salty seas of hell for multiple reincarnations.

      When I’m not pondering upon this, my garden brings much joy.

      • AnnetteM says:

        I am amazed that you have so many, but maybe they can swim and are just climbing right back up! So don’t worry too much about your karma just keep enjoying that wonderful garden.

  12. bertiebooth says:

    What a delight to have our garden featured on Chloris’ blog. (Thank you mum!).

    Digwithdorrris, you are really rather intuitive! Living with Betty, I do feel like we’re characters from a short children’s story. Often. I suspect that’s testament to how magical the lovely Betty is… Just wonderfully divine!! I only wish I could clone her like some of my plants; you can never have enough of Betty!

  13. Cathy says:

    What a wonderful space and a wonderful couple too by the sound of it – what a lovely family you have!

  14. Julie says:

    This is so lovely Chloris, you must be very proud of your son, he and Betty have created a wonderfully creative garden and home.

  15. Cathy says:

    That’s such a lovely haven. Isn’t it amazing what can be done in a small area and with containers only! A great achievement. So green fingers run in the family!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. I think a love of gardening is carried in the genes. My father and grandmother were fanatical gardeners. My daughter is becoming quite garden obsessed too.

  16. snowbird says:

    Bertie and Betty sound like my kind of people….I just love zany and interesting and they sound like both to me. Oh….sighs….to live on a houseboat like that….what a fascinating place and wow such a beautiful garden with so many interesting bits and pieces everywhere, if only I could run around it and explore. I loved the outdoor seating area, gorgeous, all of it. Where are the woods? and does their boat sail?
    This has made my day, I do miss my narrowboat and love all things boat so had my fix here. A simply stunning post.xxx

    • Chloris says:

      I think Bertie and Betty are your sort of people. They don’ t have a skeleton, or a 3 -legged cat but they do have a stuffed fox called Hugo. Don’ t worry, no cruelty was involved it was obviously stuffed many, many years ago.
      They have successfully reared 2 featherless baby birds which looked to me as if they were barely out of the egg.1 Bluetit and 1 starling. So yes, your sort of people.
      The boat, an old sugar barge doesn’ t move because its hull is filled with cement but they keep a little boat for going out on the river. The woods on the river bank are beautiful and full of bluebells in the spring.

      • snowbird says:

        So the boat is on a river, how lovely, the woods must feel like an extended garden.
        Ha….Hugo eh? I can see the need for further posts on these two! Ah …well done them on raising the chicks, I know all about that! Yes….my kindaguys for sure.xxx

  17. What creative people they are. The place looks lovely. And I like the note of approval, love and admiration as you write about them.

  18. Wow, Bertie and Betty are fun! I’m so impressed with all those plants in pots! Looking at the long shots, I’d never know that the plants were all potted! Thats incredible, and they all look so, so healthy. Well done!

  19. Kris P says:

    Bertie and Betty seem to be making the most of their lives. The healthy surrounding of plants can only be projections of their happiness with each other and the lives they’ve chosen. What more could a mother want for the next generation?

    A note to Bertie: My guess is that being a slug is a manifestation of the slug’s karma. In sending the slugs off, perhaps you’re allowing them to move up the karmic ladder.

    • bertiebooth says:

      Kris – that is bloody genius! From this day forth, I shall go on night patrol with zeal & a sense of purpose. However, I think I’ll still be suitably vague with Betty about what becomes of their fate as she’s a highly sensitive creature.

    • bertiebooth says:

      PS I hope you’re right Kris… otherwise you’ve just created a monster!

  20. gardenfancyblog says:

    What a beautiful garden they have created, and all in pots! A magical evening indeed. Thanks for sharing it with us! -Beth

  21. Christina says:

    Your son obviously has your green fingers! It all looks very beautiful. All just really proves the importance of foliage.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Christina. You are right about foliage, although Bertie does grow some flowers, it would look just as good with just the foliage. I particularly love his tree ferns they are getting quite big now.

  22. bittster says:

    Magic, love it!
    …and I love the fireside seating too. You can never have enough ornate velvet furniture onboard in my opinion.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, I rather like the velvet sofa; last time we went there was a beautiful oriental rug, a standard lamp and a candelabra on the jetty. You never know what you might find each time you go. Sometimes you will find yourself sitting next to a stuffed fox called Hugo.

  23. Anna says:

    What a unique and magical haven Chloris from which it must be hard to tear yourself away at the end of an evening. I would love to know what methods of mollusc control Bertie and Betty use. I’ve just had a pleasant surprise whilst reading this post. I googled the phrase ‘sugar lighter boat’ (not being sure what it was) and came across a reference to a Shippey’s Fish and Chips in New Zealand, which used to trade from a sugar lighter boat. Shippey was my maiden name 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      These huge sugar lighters were used by Tate and Lyle to carry their sugar up the Thames. They make a lovely large living space when converted. How nice maybe you have some long lost relatives in New Zealand.

  24. Excellent post! Great photos, wonderful place 🙂

  25. hoehoegrow says:

    A lovely little peep into a magical space ! Very creative and imaginative, and a true inspiration .How do they grow spectacular hostas like that !

    • Chloris says:

      I’ d like to know how they grow Hostes like that too. I know Bertie waters every day and constantly handpicks off the snails but still I don’ t know why they look so good.

  26. Pauline says:

    What a wonderful garden making full use of the space, a really wonderful place to chill out.

  27. Chloris says:

    It is lovely and the wonderful effect comes mainly from foliage plants. I love the way they use big chunky ropes round some of the pots and on the deck too.

  28. Really shows what a beautiful space you can make with containers. When we were in France I noticed that many of the boats on the rivers seemed to have quite a few botanical passengers.

  29. Chloris says:

    I think they have started a trend where they live. Gradually the other boats seem to be collecting more and more plants now.

  30. Robbie says:

    That is stunning! Did I read this right,, there is no soil? It is on a boat or near water? Wow. that is incredible:-) I would love to sit there and enjoy the evening forever! They are very talented + what a great way to create a green space:-) truly unique and magical! It seems your son has your talent:-)

    • Chloris says:

      No soil, just pots. The garden is on the jetty and the boats sits on the river. It is tidal so sometimes they are on water and sometimes on the river bed. It is a magical place with beautiful birds and sometimes seals too.

  31. What a magical place, clearly created by two very talented people. Joyous.

    • Chloris says:

      Hi Janet, it is a beautiful spot. I am going to ask Bertie to write a bit about himself when he has time because people seem to have enjoyed seeing his garden. It is rather special.

  32. What a wonderful boating garden they have created! Lovely.

  33. Chloris says:

    Thank you, it is a lovely place. They are lucky to live in such a beautiful spot.. I never thought they would be able to make such a fabulous garden in pots.

  34. Emily says:

    Thank you for the tour of this fabulous space! Here, in Seattle, we have many floating homes and thus, many jetty gardens like this. Well, not all like this, but lots of beautiful flowers and edible gardens too. I love it!

  35. Chloris says:

    Hello Emily, thank you for your comment. I think Bertie and Betty have started a trend where they live. More and more people are making jetty gardens there now since they made theirs.
    So far they haven’ t tried growing vegetables but they have plenty of herbs.

  36. Thank you for the link to this enchanting post. Bertie and Betty’s garden looks delightful and very, very special.

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