New Projects in the Garden and a Look at the Winter Garden.

I have been busy this spring on two new projects. One of them is a big one and won’t be ready for a while. When it is finished it will be a secret garden, surrounded by fragrant shrubs. I dug up all the daffodils from here and planted them elsewhere. Thank goodness, I had some help with the turf removal . I am very grateful to the tireless couple, Paul and Julie for this. Without them I would be writing from my bed or A&E. That is a lot of turf.

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I will show you the progress when it is a bit further on.

The other project is connected to the winter garden that I made last year. Another winter has come and gone and I never got round to showing it to you. It is coming on well, but it always fidgets me that it tapers off into untamed wilderness; nettles, brambles and cow parsley and a huge pile of logs that were chopped down when we moved here, more than five years ago.
IMG_1661 So I have tackled the area at last. I have dug up far more lawn and I am gradually getting rid of the unsightly wilderness. It is a big job; a bit like eating an elephant; I can only do it a nibble at a time.

Eating an elephant.

Eating an elephant.

After digging away at it for 5 hours the other day, I lost my sense of humour entirely.

Why Do We Garden - Blooming Garden
I know wood piles are good for wildlife, but these pile of logs had to be disposed of because many of the trees died of the dreaded honey fungus; Armillarea mellea.  I have been worried about having them lying around so long, but they were waiting to be chopped up for firewood.  I don’t think that will ever happen, so The Pianist was persuaded to come out and make a big bonfire, he didn’t mind, he loves a good bonfire. We were responsible about it and waited until the wind was blowing the smoke over the fields, rather than in the direction of neighbours. As we hauled the logs over to be burnt, sure enough many of them were fringed with the tell-tale bootlace-like rhizomorphs. There were quite a lot that didn’t seem to be infected though. Some of them were quite attractive shapes and covered in moss. So I decided my winter garden could sweep round the corner, once I’ve got rid of more lawn, the nettles and other rubbish and end with a stumpery.  This will make a nice sheltered spot to plant my Edgeworthia which has spent the winter in a pot. In the next photo you can see  the Edgworthia sitting waiting to be planted.

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There’s an awful lot of work to be done first. I have to clear up to the hose pipe and round behind the Horse Chestnut tree.

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To make a stumpery you have to have to set the logs into the ground but I didn’t dare do this, I am too frightened of honey fungus. So I used a large sheet of thick polythene covered in soil and arranged the stumps on this.

So here is the stumpery, waiting to be planted up. Don’t laugh, I know it’s not exactly Highgrove and Prince Charles doesn’t need to worry about the competition.  But I don’t have huge chestnut roots held together with galvinised iron at my disposal .  Oh dear, look at all that cow parsley still to go. There are  countless young elders, we don’t need to worry about witches here. There is also a whole network of nettle roots which must have been growing here for years. And when you dig there is lots of rubble. In a 500 year old garden you might to expect to dig up lots of interesting things. All I ever find is rubble and Shiphams Fish Paste jars. But next time you see it will look tidier as  the cow parsley will be gone and the plants still sitting in their pots will be planted.

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I’m afraid when I moved the wood I disturbed a wood mouse’s nest, I hope he will come back and make a home amongst the logs.

I should really have waited until the job was finished and amazed you, but this way you see the work in progress. Here are more views of the winter garden which is coming on quite well considering it was only started last year.

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IMG_0006The  euphorbias have been a great success. This next one is Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’. Behind it is Abies koreana.
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The colour of E. ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is a perfect match for the red grass Uncinia rubra.

DSC_0714And here is the the lovely white Euphorbia characias ‘Glacier Blue’.

Euphorbia 'Glazier Blue'

Euphorbia ‘Glacier Blue’

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I love red bergenia leaves in the winter. The little ones above are B. ‘Wintermärchen’.  The next one is Bergenia ‘Bressingham Salmon’.

Bergenia 'Bressingham Salmon'

Bergenia ‘Bressingham Salmon’

B. ‘Bressingham White’ has proved to be a disappointment, possibly the winter was too wet. It is recovering and may even flower, but I grow bergenias for their winter leaves, not the flowers.

Bergenia 'Bressingham White'

Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’

A lot of people sneer at heathers, we have all heard that old cliché: ‘the only place for heather is on the moors’. But there is nothing like Erica carnea for giving you carpets of colour in winter.

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At the back of the above photo you can just see the leaves of a flowering currant. Here it is, the white flowered Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’.
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I have planted witch hazels and lots of coloured stems for winter, but in spring the twisted branches of this little Fuji Cherry, Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ become smothered in the daintiest pale pink blossoms.

Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai'

Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’

Looking pristinely white is the clump of Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour’ growing with Narcissus ‘Thalia’ You can just see the buds of a white flowered Fritillaria meleagris waiting to open.

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I love white flowered Narcissi. For the first time this year I have grown the lovely N. ‘Elka’.

Narcissus 'Elka'

Narcissus ‘Elka’

Another delightful small flowered one is N. ‘Mrs. Langtry’ dating back to 1869.

Narcissus 'Mrs'Langtry'

Narcissus ‘Mrs’Langtry’

.But my favourite is the exquisite, little scented N. ‘Segovia’

Narcissus 'Segovia'

Narcissus ‘Segovia’

The dear little Muscari ‘White Magic’ is another persil- white gem.

Muscari 'White Magic'

Muscari ‘White Magic’

I have planted all my precious snowdrops here and after they finish,  epimediums and primroses take over, but I will save these to show you another day. I did try a few erythroniums  but the blasted pheasant picks the buds off and throws them away. He seems to leave the snakeshead fritillaries alone, he obviously has expensive tastes. The neighbour’s cat seems to keep him away from the garden nearer to the house, so  I grow erythroniums in my spring beds down here. Having the neighbour’s cat on patrol would be great if he didn’t leave half chewed rabbits lying around, or use the garden as a lavatory. I don’t always wear gloves.

The Winter Garden.

Part of theWinter Garden.

As you can see, the lawn needs mowing really badly. I hate to nag, but if you should happen to read this dear Pianist….

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64 Responses to New Projects in the Garden and a Look at the Winter Garden.

  1. I don’t think I have ever seen a stumpery. It is an interesting idea. Gardening is a lot of work, but saves on the gym membership!

    • Chloris says:

      Well, this is a very modest attempt at a stumpery. Ideally they are made with mighty roots of ancient trees. Going to the gym strikes me as such a waste of energy, I need every bit of mine for the garden.

  2. Oh I almost thought this was me writing bits of this….I am exhausted seeing all the work you have done….it is looking wonderful. And I bet the wood mouse comes back. I love the idea of a stumpery. Here I leave my stumps up for insects to help decay them….beautiful to watch as I bet your stumpery will be. Our weather is calming so I will be joining you from over here in NY to start the garden projects. I hope I can make half the progress you have made!

    • Chloris says:

      Glad your weather is improving at last Donna. What a long hard winter you have had. I’ m popping over now to see what you have been doing in your garden.

  3. Pauline says:

    You have made great progress with your winter garden. Mine is a very special place for me and I’m sure yours will be if it isn’t already. I like your choice of plants, it is all going to be a wonderful tapestry.

    • Chloris says:

      Winter is such a long dreary time without interest in the garden. I am pleased that the winter garden is coming on and the gaps are filling in. I think you and I love the same plants Pauline, I have noticed that the plants you grow are my favourites too.

  4. rusty duck says:

    What is it about men and bonfires? It must be something from their youth. The winter garden is looking delightful. Funnily enough, my Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’ look exactly the same. Of the three I planted last year only one looks half way decent, it even has flowers, although all are showing signs of recovery. Obviously they’ve not seen the weather forecast..

    • Chloris says:

      Making bonfires is the only garden work the Pianist does with any enthusiasm. Occasionally, he wields a chainsaw, but I don’ t encourage this since he fell out of an apple tree whilst brandishing one. Miraculously no harm was done, but it doesn’ t inspire confidence.

  5. AnnetteM says:

    Gosh you have been busy! I love your stumpery – it has a lot more stumps than mine and will look lovely when planted. I have gone for a more minimalist look! The white Anemone blanda is lovely, much more robust looking than the blue and pink versions. I have a lot of white anemones, but many of them are double. I bought them before I decided I preferred single flowers! They are still lovely though.

    • Chloris says:

      Thanks Annette. Anemone bland ‘White Splendour’ has much bigger flowers than the usual Anemone blanda. I think the double Anemone nemorosa is very pretty.

      • AnnetteM says:

        Thanks Chloris – I will look our for it. I guess the double is rather pretty – well I have it all over my garden now so I need to love it!

  6. Great post. Love all your little white Narcissi. I had no idea that people sneer at heather. Heather around here is exceedingly rare. And I didn’t know that such a thing as a stumpery existed. It sounds like a place where one goes to stomp around or engage in vigorous folk dancing, but then I guess that would be a stompery. A stumpery could also be a place where one goes when one is baffled, or stumped. I admire your ambition and industry! As for the rabbits, I wouldn’t mind cleaning up after a predatory cat if it hunted only rabbits and left the songbirds alone.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jason. No, you can be sure I wouldn’ t create a special place for folk dancing in my garden. I follow the precept attributed to Sir Thomas Beecham: ‘ You should try everything once, except incest and folk dancing’.
      You can’ t clean up after a cat, they cunningly bury it and you only find it when you are grubbing around without gloves. Sorry, not a cat lover.

  7. What fascinating projects, two at once sounds like a lot of work to me – how important good helpers must be. Were the successive late winter storms a set back? I really like your collection of pale and interesting narcissi, I shall look out for them in catalogues later in the year.

    • Chloris says:

      I certainly need help with my secret garden, I haven’ t got the skills to create it in the way I want it, so Paul who can turn his hand to anything, is going to help.
      Storm Katie brought down a birch from my little birch grove.at the end of the garden.

  8. Tina says:

    I’ve seen photos of a stumpery without knowing that it is a particular gardening “thing,” ;though I think it makes lots of sense. You have quite a large garden–maybe you’ve written about this, but what are the dimensions? Lots of work, but the results should be well worth it.

    • Chloris says:

      The garden is over an acre and js hard work, specially as I am constantly digging up more and more lawn and creating more work for myself. It is a weird sort of compulsion.

  9. hoehoegrow says:

    I love a good project … and yours are certainly fantastic projects. ‘Eating an elephant’ is a good mantra to have when tackling things on that scale.You are making great progress!
    Love the white mascara – didn’t know they came in white.

    • Chloris says:

      I have learnt from hard experience that if you try to do something like this, all in one day you suffer for it afterwards. In fact I felt awful after that 5 hour digging stint and couldn’ t do anything the following day. You have to treat your body with a bit of respect when you are getting older as I am.

  10. hoehoegrow says:

    Silly typo – I meant ‘mascara’ and not mascara !!

  11. Alain says:

    It will be interesting to follow the evolution of these areas.

  12. Anna says:

    Oh both projects are coming on well Chloris. Five hours digging deserves an endurance medal. No wonder your sense of humour deserted you but I’m sure it was only briefly. I paid a flying visit to East Anglia this weekend to see my mum. As well as providing a vivid splash of colour her heather plant was graced by sunbathing tortoiseshell butterflies yesterday. ‘Segovia’ looks rather special. I can see why it’s a favourite.

    • Chloris says:

      Does your Mum live in Suffolk Anna? If so it would be lovely if you could call in here when you visit her. I would love to meet you and show you the garden.

  13. Kris P says:

    You have been busy! I envy you all that garden space. I’m glad you got help with the lawn removal – it’s physically taxing work, as my body and I can attest, and monotonous to boot. The winter garden is looking great already and I look forward to seeing your progress with the stumpery and the secret garden. I’ve seen examples of stumperies in the Pacific Northwest and in retrospect regret having let go all the lumber pieces from the removal of 2 large trees on our property.

    • Chloris says:

      When I dug up the lawn in the front garden, I couldn’ t move for a couple of days afterwards, so I couldn’ t face doing this without help. Besides, the next stage requires work that I can’ t do myself.
      I believe the biggest stumpery in the world is in America; Vashon Island in Washington. I would love to see it.

  14. I really like the log garden, and I’ll look forward to more views throughout the growing season. Your winter garden is impressive, too!

  15. Christina says:

    Your winter garden is lovely, can you see it from any windows? It is always nice if you can be tempted outside in the depths of winter. I like all your white narcissus, I was thinking about adding some Thalia next autumn but now you have tempted me with others. The secret garden will be lovely, I hope you’re going to include a seat so you can relax a little and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

  16. Chloris says:

    No, you can’ t see this far down the garden from the house which is a pity.
    Another fragrant little Narcissus which I forgot to mention is Bell Song. It has creamy white petals and a pink cup. It would be lovely for cutting.
    Oh yes, I have got a seat ear- marked for my secret garden. I think this will be a favourite place to sit, hidden away down the garden.

  17. Julie says:

    I wonder how long the rhizomorphs carry on living after the tree has been cut down and then whether they have the ability to regenerate, I can see why you used the plastic. I would love a stumpery here but haven’t anywhere near as much space as you. A Secret Garden sounds a wonderful idea and especially if you have it surrounded by fragrant shrubs a very enticing place to discover. good luck with both projects, looking forward to seeing more.

  18. Chloris says:

    This is something that worries me a lot. You are supposed to dig out all the stumps, but it would cost a lot of money to remove them all. I see the mushooms on the stumps and even growing on the lawn. This is a very ancient orchard and is clearly riddled with honey fungus. The only comfort is that so far only really old trees seem to be affected. I am hoping that if I look after the new trees well and never let them get stressed, that they will have some resistance. So far they are all doing well. So that is all I can do and then hope for the best. That, or move away and I don’ t want to do that, I love it here.

  19. you have been very busy, new projects are hard work, especially turf removal and then digging out all the roots and weeds, I find a long soak in a hot bath helps relax me a lot, I admit I sometimes doze off for a few minutes, I love all the white flowering bulbs you have, I bought M.white magic last autumn but didn’t get it all planted out, so some are flowering in pots on my windowsill now, the loggery will look good and provide a home for lots of beneficial wildlife, and the wood ash can be used on the garden it is said to be good for fruit trees and shrubs, oh, re the stinging nettles, apparently they are host plants to the caterpillars of several native butterflies, they are also said to only grow in good soil, I rarely see them on my poor soil, how nice to have someone who keeps the grass down, wish I did, that alone would help a lot, and you could remind him he would not have such a pleasant view when sitting in the garden if the ‘stamp collector’ didn’t provide that view!! Frances

    • Chloris says:

      You are right Frances, the soil must be very fertile, I saw so many worms when I was digging- always a good sign. Talking about wildlife, I saw Brimstone butterflies in the garden, yesterday, always a lovely April sight. I am lucky to have a grass mowing man, he is my chef too which is even better.

  20. Annette says:

    You seem to have boundless energy, Liz, I couldn’t and wouldn’t dig for 5 hours in a row. Don’t overdo it! I’m intrigued by your secret garden – will it be a sunken one? GI had a feature on a woodland cum stumpery garden (think it was in the States) which I thought was very beautiful and so serene. How big is the garden? I think you’ve achieved a lot in 5 years. The new planting is coming along well – from the pics it seems you’re planting quite densely. Something I tend to do thus avoiding too many weeds. Don’t work too hard and think of enjoying your beautiful garden too.

    • Chloris says:

      I always overdo it in the garden and crawl in good for for nothing. I am lucky to have a live- in chef, but he complains I am not very good company after a day in the garden.
      The original plan was to make the secret garden a sunken one but without mechanical help it will be just too much work.
      The garden is over an acre, so quite large for one person, specially as I am always digging up yet more lawn.

  21. Wow, a stumpery! This is a new gardening term to me. I can’t wait to see it finished. My neighbor actually just started one for displaying her Clivias and I did not realize what to call it. The wonders of blogging. I am also intrigued by the circle, please keep posting. Turf does get to be a bit dull in contrast to gardens!

    • Chloris says:

      The way I am going I shall probably end up with no lawn at all, I am constantly nibbling away at it. The older I get the more work I make for myself. No common sense at all, I’ m afraid.

      • Same here I am trying to use more stone mulch and shells in place of lawn and tightly spaced perennials, we will see if it works. I am pretty sure I live at the weed capital of the world.

  22. Brian Skeys says:

    Your winter garden is developing into a lovely feature, I think they are quite special.
    It may be my age but I do like heathers and conifers. There is a garden in Herefordshire, The Bannutt, which has a huge amount of both, with heathers to edge paths instead of box. It looked fantastic in March when open for the NGS.

    • Chloris says:

      Heather and conifers certainly make a lovely winter display. I think they were rather overdone in the 70s though. The conifers that people planted then have grown too big. I would love to see the garden Bannutt, I love winter gardens.

  23. Flighty says:

    A most enjoyable, and interesting, post and lovely pictures. You sure have been busy, and will be for a while yet from what you say. I’m sure that it’ll all be worthwhile once you do finish these projects. xx

  24. gardenfancyblog says:

    Chloris, your new winter garden is really looking quite good (there are so many things that carry through your English winters). And I’m looking forward to seeing the new garden area as well — showing the planting stages makes us all feel we know your gardens better than if you just showed the finished result (whenever that unlikely time ever arrives…). Good luck with the remaining work! -Beth

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Beth. I think the winter garden will come into its own next year when everything is well established. There is still quite a lot of work to do on my projects, but never mind I will get there.

  25. Love the little white muscari and ‘Mrs Langtry’…wonder is she knew she had a narcissus named after her?!

    • Chloris says:

      I don’ t know whether Mrs Langtry knew about the daffodil, but how wonderful having such an exquisite daffodil named after you. It’ s a real beauty.

  26. Oops, ‘if’ not ‘is’

  27. I am amazed at your energy and I particularly admire your effort with the stumpery. With trees coming down all around me, you would think I could fashion a similar point of interest…I will have to see if I can find the right spot. You always show the most tempting plants, too. I have added ‘Sogovia’ to my growing list of must haves.

  28. pbmgarden says:

    Amazing projects underway. I love the idea of your secret garden.

  29. I’ve always wanted a secret garden, it’s such a romantic idea. I am in awe of the scale of the changes that you are making simultaneously. Take it easy on your back, I couldn’t dig for 5hr on the trot!

  30. snowbird says:

    Oooooh….a secret garden! How utterly delicious! I love the mystery of it all! Goodness me, your winter garden has come on in leaps and bounds and has some really special plants. I just love your stumpery and am amazed! Truly amazed!!! The fantabulous artwork has me smiling too. Good luck eating that elephant! Funny re burning, hubs is the same, maybe they’re both potential arsonists! I hope your sweet little wood mouse takes up residence in his delightful new home….and EEEK re the half chewed rabbits.Looking forward to seeing and hearing more.xxx

    • Chloris says:

      Men only seem interested in gardening if it involves power tools or fire. Still, I am grateful for any help I can get.
      I will keep you up to date on the progress. The trouble is I am so impatient, I want it all done yesterday, but that elephant doesn’ t seem to get much smaller. Mind you, yesterday was a Hector day, so not terribly productive in the garden. I spent most of the day, fishing him out of the pond and dragging him off the hedge and pulling foreign bodies out of his mouth.

  31. Cathy says:

    So many lovely things to see in your garden right now. The new planting looks great. I love the white flowers you have just now – narcissi, anemone and muscari.

  32. I love the idea of a stumpery. I recently added some logs to my riverbed but it isn’t quite the same. I don’t think we have honey fungus here. The bonfire was a great way to get rid of all that wood. Much easier than hauling it away. 🙂

  33. Chloris says:

    You don’ t have honey fungus? Lucky you, it is the bane of my life. Every time I plant a tree, I mutter incantations and hope it will survive. It spreads by spores and these horrible boot lacey things that can travel up to 30 metres underground.

  34. I love your winter garden, and with all your hard work it will soon nestle in to it’s surroundings even better. And your stumpery may lack the grandeur of the one at Highgrove, but it is already a great feature, and will soon look even better. Look forward to seeing your secret garden develop.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Janet, I do wish I had some huge, impressive tree roots, but heigh- ho, we can only use what we have to hand, if we lack bottomless pockets and men with big machines.

  35. Cathy says:

    Oh it is so exciting seeing these areas develop, Chloris, especially as I am one of the nibble at the grass until there is almost none left’ brigade too. And all these hints you keep throwing in about your secret garden…definitely a tease! Oh yes, and ‘I have planted witch hazels’ is just NOT good enough without more detail – please tell more!

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