Big changes are taking place here in the blooming garden and difficult decisions have had to be made. I haven’t blogged for a long time as I haven’t had the heart to write about the garden knowing that we will be leaving it and as each new bloom opened I knew I was seeing it for the last time. So I found it painful to write about it.
Readers of my blog will remember my son, Bertie’s jetty garden at Pin Mill. Bertie and his lovely Beatrice moved to a beautiful part of south west France two years ago. We visited them and fell in love with the place too. So we have bought an ancient medieval house there – well, to be accurate, we have bought a medieval ruin which has caused family and friends to think we are mad. Perhaps we are. We are Francophiles and have always dreamed of having a home in France and now having our loved ones there is the time to do it. Throwing myself into this project distracted me from the implications for the garden here. After three weeks away during a drought this summer it looked terrible, so leaving it for weeks or more at a time is unthinkable. So I have had to do all the mental and emotional gymnastics required to bring myself to the place where I can leave our lovely home and garden. I never thought this would happen. But the new owners are enthusiastic about the garden so it will continue to be well loved.
Looking for somewhere new in the UK, was disheartening. Throughout the summer here, house prices spiralled and there was a bidding war for any desirable properties. The whole buying and selling process has been long drawn- out and stressful as these things tend to be. But eventually, we were lucky enough to find and secure a house that we think will suit us very well. The garden is quite small and it needs a lot of work to get it as I want it; but that’s OK, I love a project. The front garden will be my winter garden; at the moment it is just gravel. The back garden has just a big, misshapen magnolia, a few ugly conifers and a big clump of Phyllostachys, the invasive sort of bamboo which worries me rather. I love bamboo, but only the nice, well-behaved, clump-forming ones. And there is a Leylandii hedge. And there is a large expanse of decking. So all in all, pretty awful. I will show you photos when we move and all suggestions will be welcome.
So in January we will be leaving here. I shall eventually carry on with my blog. Although the garden we have bought in France and the one we are buying here are not blooming at all, of course, in time they will. It will be different because I have an acre at the moment and I grow loads from seeds and cuttings and I buy whatever takes my fancy, as I have plenty of space. Readers of my blog will know that the garden here is crammed full of plants so that I have gorgeous blooms all year round. I haven’t bought any plants for nearly a year so I have withdrawal symptoms. Prowling round nurseries is my favourite occupation, so I am looking forward to choosing plants for my new garden. I may have to ask for advice, as I have never gardened in a small space before. I suppose you have to be very disciplined and only grow the choicest and the best. Anyway, I shall show you both my new gardens when the time comes, or the spaces where my gardens will be, and will welcome suggestions. I might even give you a peep into my new houses.
In the meantime I am busy as there is so much to see to and endless sorting out and throwing away. I got held up for some weeks because I broke my ankle by cycling too fast down a narrow lane and ending up in a ditch. So instead of packing I have been reclining on a sofa asking the Pianist to peel me grapes. It took him a week to clear out the loft in between grape peeling. Tackling the shed crammed full of a mountain of plant pots was a nightmare, I wrote about the shed here. I have no idea why I thought I might ever need thousands and thousands of plant pots. We had to get a skip for them and all the other mountains of rubbish we seem to have accumulated. And the garage was a horror story too. But getting rid of all your junk is very liberating, I have thrown away clothes that I haven’t worn for twenty years and I am baffled as to why I kept them so long. Piles of greeting cards from loved ones have been ruthlessly discarded. Theatre programmes from long forgotten performances, gardening magazines going back thirty years; it’s endless the stuff I have hoarded. Getting rid of so much ballast is good for the soul, but it takes ages. Packing now takes up all our time and Christmas here is going to be spent walled in by boxes and boxes. We are having endless discussions about each other’s ridiculous hoarding habits. I question his suitcases full of cables and CDs that he cannot play because he has nothing to play them on. He wants to know why I have nearly 400 gardening books and four big boxes of jugs. Between you and me I am a bit puzzled about all those jugs myself. And then I have a serious succulent addiction; the house is disappearing under seas of succulents as it is too cold for them outside. And then I have nightmares about all the plants in the greenhouse; I have no idea how I am going to move all these plants.
Anyway, I will see you all on the other side in my new gardens. Have a wonderful Christmas and a joyful New Year and I am looking forward to catching up with you all once the move has happened.
In the meantime, here are just a few of the wonderful plants that I am very sad to say goodbye to.
I would have a hard time saying goodbye to all those garden beauties, too, Chloris. Wishing you the best in your new home in France. I need to declutter and sort things here, too, and I am not even going anywhere. 🙂
Thank you Lavinia. I am going to be very careful not to accumulate so much clutter in future. It is liberating being free of so much junk.
It is good to see your blog. I have checked several times to see if I was missing notifications. It has not happened yet, but we are planning to move across the country (to where the kids live) which will be a new gardening zone. I will also be gardening in two different houses with one being on top of a mountain. I am having the same feelings as you. I will look forward to seeing how your move goes. Wishing you the best in your move and for the New Year.
Lovely to hear from you and how exciting to be moving to new homes and different gardens. I hope you will write about your new gardens on your blog.
Oh, even though I know that you are relocating by choice, and that there is much to appreciate about France, I totally understand that it is very difficult to leave a garden as well as a home.
Thank you Tony, I hope you are enjoying a good Christmas too. It is hard to move on but I am very excited about the changes.
Well, that is important, and makes it ‘less’ stressful.
Hello Liz and Happy Christmas. I have been wondering what has become of you and am happy to read that you are gaining two new gardens and have a new plant palette to explore. What fun and I am excited to read about your gardening adventures when you embark on this journey. I had to laugh about the packing and the man issues, my husband has the same cable hoarding tendencies and had so many excess wood screws and bolts we donated them to Habitat for Humanity. Best of luck with the moves, Amy.
Lovely to hear from you Amy. Yes, you will be hearing about my new gardens once I move. I am looking forward to getting the advice of my blogging friends as I develop them.
The new owner of your now place will be in heaven come Spring. I can’t wait to see your “new” old home. What a fun adventure your are off on.
Yes, the new owners have some treats in store. I have given them a link to my blog so that they have a taste of sone of the beautiful plants here.
Oh, Liz, leaving your beautiful garden must be so hard. You had so many unusual cultivars, but a new project or two is enticing. Designing new gardens to withstand some neglect when you can’t always be there in two different climates will be a challenge worthy of you!
Good luck with the move and transition. Happy Christmas!
Yes, it is hard to leave Liza but I am very excited about the challenges ahead. And I have my blog to remind me about all the beautiful plants here.
Dear Chloris,Happy Christmas! I loved reading this blog – shades of “Driving over Lemons” by Chris Stewart! Have you read it?Sorry we didn’t get to meet again after I brought you the albuca Frizzle Sizzle plants. Will you be able to take them to France with you? The albuca you kindly gave me is thriving in my conservatory. Is it Nelsonii? I forgot what you said!I am staying in Queensland with my brother and family for Christmas and New Year, and won’t be home until 18 January, by which time you will probably have departed Crown House 😪.I look forward to hearing about your mediaeval ruin in France! All the best with your new adventure!Best wishes,Fran (Gregor -Smith)
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Thank you Frances, I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas with your family in Australia. Yes, the plant I gave you is Albuca nelsonii, it can’t take any frost. I haven’t come across the book you mention, is it about gardening?
Our new house in England is only half an hour away so you must come and visit once we are settled.
I shall carry on with this blog once I start work on my new garden. In the meantime, I shall be carrying on with my column in the Box River News.
Thank you for your advice re Albuca Nelsonii. It is doing well in my conservatory.The book is about Chris and his wife who decide to move to a remote spot in the Alpujarras in Spain, and find a ramshackle house which they renovate, and also cultivate the land, and make new friends. An adventure similar to yours but in Spain, not France!I hope you have a great adventure! All the best with your moves to France and to your new home in Suffolk . The garden you’re taking over in Suffolk sounds rather like mine when I first moved in – acres of gravel surrounded b y tall, dark leylandii , and a lot of weeds!Best wishes, Fran Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android
Changes, changes! It’s always hard to say goodbye, but it sounds like you have some great plans ahead, too. Happy Holidays and best wishes during this transition time.
Happy holidays to you Beth. Yes, changes are hard but it is always good to have exciting new projects.
Coincidentally, I was wondering where you’d gotten to earlier this week. Moving is alternately traumatizing and freeing, as you’ve discovered. It’s more than a little overwhelming when you’re in the midst of the process. I shed many of the things you’re in the process of discarding myself 12 years ago this month when we last moved. Books were the biggest hurdle for me – while I kept most of my garden books, I jettisoned almost all the rest and have happily adjusted to a digital library. I’ve no doubt that you’ll have loads of fun with your 2 new gardens once you’ve made the shift. Best wishes with the transition and I hope you enjoy the holidays despite the fracas. I look forward to seeing your new story unfold.
Thank you Kris, yes the move is rather overwhelming. And our hundreds of books are a big headache. But we do both reread our books and can’t bear to part with them. We have offloaded as many as we can bear to. We both have kindles but our books are much loved friends. Starting not one, but two gardens is very exciting and it is going to be a challenge as both will have to be left to their own devices regularly as we can’t be in two places at the same time. But it is fun to have new projects.
You have created a beautiful garden and now you will create two more, there’s definitely a positive spin you can put on this, though of course I understand leaving something so nurtured is hard. Speaking from the experience of living in Belgium for 15 years, living abroad is fun, stimulating, frustrating and difficult at times, and eye-opening. You will see your own culture in a different light. Good luck with it all!
Oh I didn’t realise you have been in Belgium for 15 years, you are an old hand then. Because of beastly Brexit we are only allowed in France for 90 days in 6 months but working out when we can come again after each trip is complicated.
It’s a new beginning, I wish you and your family the best. South France is really charming. (what is the nearest major city?) You are leaving a very beautiful garden and I can’t wait to see the photos of the French new one, if you ever share them…. Happy Christmas!
Thank you Fred. Our nearest big cities are Toulouse and Albi. I shall be posting photos of our place in France but it won’t be ready to live in until the spring.
of course….Toulouse /Albi is a good choice !
Ah, my friend. What a time of transition! Leaving a beloved garden, and starting two new ones!
But how exciting to be starting again. And what adventures lie ahead. I am so intrigued that you simply must find five minutes a week to share bits of the journey so I may be on it with you!
I wish you and your beloved Pianist a very joyful Christmas.
Hello Cynthia. Yes, it is exciting but quite exhausting having two houses to think about at the same time. Sensible people would have got one house organised before embarking on another. And sensible people don’t buy ruins in another country. But we have never managed to be sensible.
Yes, I will be blogging again when I move and sharing the making of two new gardens.
I’m glad you’re one of the insensibles. Open to adventure!
Glad we won’t lose touch. I wish you and The Pianist much fortitude and remember to stop and laugh often.
I had been wondering about your garden and your blog and am glad to hear you are well. The next inhabitant of your plot of land is a very lucky person indeed, inheriting so many carefully chosen beauties – the kind of garden one does not leave! I left France almost 15 years ago and learned to garden in England, so that I don’t know many names of plants and tools in my own language, which is strange! There is no doubt that much of France is very beautiful and I wish you much happiness dans le Midi, gardening and eating! I hope you won’t come to the same conclusion as an Englishman of my acquaintance who said that « France is a wonderful country, wasted on the French! ». Good luck with the move and the admin. Being a foreigner in one’s country of residency is, in my opinion, very enriching.
The great thing about using the proper names for plants is that it is an international language and you can talk plants wherever you go in the world.
Thank you very much for your good wishes. We are in the Aveyron region so winters are quite cold.
Saying that France is wasted on the French is not very nice. It is a beautiful country and part of its appeal is the French people themselves. We enjoy being amongst French people and love talking French.
Starting a new garden is so exciting and I hope you manage to take lots of cuttings to continue the links between old and new. I have just got my first French Baumaux seed catalogue and wish I had the space of a new garden to try them all out! Good luck.
I’ve missed you Liz and now I understand why you have been away. What a change for you and I applaud your leap of faith. You will of course make your new gardens your own and they will soon be full of all kinds of wonderful things, I just know it. As for leaving your present garden, all I can say is that the moment you go it will no longer be yours, it will change and evolve independently of you. However, there will always be something of you in it, you have given that gift to those who come behind. And never go back. Wishing you all the luck in the world. xxx
Thank you Gill. And I have missed you and all my blogging friends. And I have missed buying plants and having new projects in the garden.
You are right about not going back. I enjoyed the garden whilst I was here and I enjoyed creating it and now it is not my business what the new owners do with it. I will have new projects and plants to enjoy. You know what it is like because it’s not very long ago since you did the same thing.
Thank you, we will need it.
Chloris, I commend you and the Pianist for your courage! Selling your house and garden is a huge step, and purging and packing is a monumental task! My husband and I are still shifting boxes and furniture after selling and moving into a much smaller house. Nonetheless, we love our new abode, and I
It is a massive task and as the big day approaches I lie in bed at night worrying about how on earth we will do it. How long is it since you moved?
You do know how to keep things interesting!
Good to hear an update and I’m excited to hear about your new adventure. Please don’t wait until it’s perfect before sharing, I feel so inadequate when all I’m faced with are perfect projects completed. Such a contrast to the disaster here.
I can’t wait to hear about the medieval ruin!!
Oh I shan’t wait until my gardens are finished to show you, I want to have some input from blogging friends.
We showed a photo of our French house to a friend and he said: ‘That is not a house, it is a pile of stones with a crack in it’. A bit harsh, but not far from the truth. It is not habitable yet, but we hope it will be ready in the spring.
I am coming over to read about yor disaster now, I have some catching up to do!
I wondered why I hadn’t seen a post from you in ages, Chloris. How exciting your new venture is. As an ardent Francophile myself (but too far away to make anything more than a occasional trip myself) l have to confess to being a tiny bit envious! I sympathise with you over the divesting of collected treasures: such a time consuming and agonising process. I look forward to posts about your new garden(s) which I’m sure will soon start to look beautiful once you’ve added your special touches. Btw, I would be sad to leave that Kowhai. I tried to grow one here but an enthusiastic and prolific caterpillar put paid to that idea. Bonne chance in your new venture!
Thank you very much, lovely to hear from you Jane. I am taking a young Kowhaï with me that I grew from seed. I don’t know how long it will take to bloom.
Oh my goodness, what upheaval! A medieval house in the south of France does sound very enticing indeed, but leaving your garden must be so hard. Every time we have moved house I say it will be the last time. 😜 Having a sort out might be a good idea for me anyway, as we have still got boxes unsorted from our last house…. I look forward to seeing and hearing more and in the meantime wish you all the best with the packing and a very Happy New Year!
Oh it’s good to read a post from you Chloris – I had been wondering where you had got to. You must be filled with mixed emotions but you have so much to look forward to. Maybe you will be able to take a few cuttings, divisions and seeds with you if not to France to your new house in the UK. We need a major sort out too even though we are not planning a move but we have both accumulated a lot of junk over the last 35 years or so. I have a pile of pots and gardening magazines too and as for himself’s garage – that is another story. Good luck with your moves and look forward to hearing about your new gardens next year,
I am so glad everything is progressing Chloris, and that you found another house and garden that suited, albeit with the decking, Leylandii and bamboo to contend with. I had to smile at the hoarding admissions – and after seeing your colletion of pots when we visited I ought not to have been surprised by the other examples – makes me feel very restrained with my fairly minimal pot stash and no more than 3 years of magazine back copies…can’t say the same for vases though!! 😉 I am really excited for you both and look forward to digitally exploring your new homes and gardens with you in due course – what an eventful 2023 it will be!
Well you have always known how to pack a post with interesting information, not to mention lovely pictures! I smile at your new adventure, happy for your best life ahead. Looking forward to seeing your new homes and gardens as they progress. Happy New Year!
So lovely to hear from you, I have missed you. Goodness, that is big news indeedy! I’m sorry that you are leaving your delightful garden and home but glad it will be taken care of. I’m sure you will take many cuttings and plants with you so it will always be a part of you. Your new homes sound exciting, I’m looking forward to hearing more. Decluttering is always a wonderful thing. Good luck with the move and all the best for the New Year.xxx