Here we are at last in our new home with a new garden which certainly isn’t blooming. It is weird to have to buy flowers as there was never a single moment in the blooming garden when there was nothing to pick. And here there is nothing at all, not even a bit of nice foliage.
I have a relatively small space here so I have had to think long and hard about which trees and shrubs I simply have to squeeze in somehow. Obviously in a small garden you must have only the choicest and the best. The front garden is compacted gravel at the moment with room to park eight cars. I don’t know why anyone would need parking for eight cars, but I am going to hire a mini digger to loosen it all and then get some top soil delivered. This will be my winter garden. I like the idea of having a winter garden at the front which is overlooked by the conservatory. The conservatory is an exciting bonus of this house and I will show it to you in another post.
I have already bought a few essential trees and shrubs for the winter garden. The first one I bought is the very fragrant Daphne bhloua ‘Jaqueline Postill’. This is my desert island plant, the one I can’t do without. Here it is in my previous garden.
Almost just as important for me is the Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume ‘Beni-chi-dori’. The dark pink blossom comes out in February. The one in the photo sadly died in last summer’s drought.
Beautiful bark is just as important as flowers in winter so I have bought a multi-stemmed Prunus serrula which will have shiny mahogany bark which peels off in tatters. I hope I can find a Muehlenbeckia astonii to put in front of it as I did before.
The slow -growing Acer griseum has cinnamon- coloured, peeling bark and is also a must-have. I have a small one waiting to be planted. It will take a while to look as good as this one.
I have to have a birch and I particularly wanted to buy Betula albosinensis ‘Pink Champagne’ which is a small to medium-size birch with beautiful pinkish peeling bark. But I couldn’t find it at any of the nurseries I visited, so I bought a multi -stemmed, chalk white Betula jacquemontii which was reduced to £15 and I can’t resist a bargain. I haven’t bought any plants for over a year as I knew I was going to move and I can’t believe how expensive they are now. I know Betula jacquemontii will grow too tall but I will worry about that later. The photograph shows Betula ‘Pink Champagne’ with Abies koreana behind it.
I have also bought a corkscrew hazel which looks wonderful in winter, specially coated in snow, although I don’t like it so much in summer. I just looked up why this is known as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. It was named after a Scottish entertainer who was popular in the early years of last century. His trademark was a crooked walking stick. People were easily amused in those days.
So these are my maids- in -waiting for the winter garden. I shall also buy one or two dwarf conifers and my queen of all firs, Abies koreana which is so elegant, compact and slow-growing and has candle-like cones. Abies koreana ‘Silberloche’ has silvery curving needles.
I hope I have room for one or two witch hazels, a chimonanthus, a winter flowering honeysuckle, plenty of cornus for coloured stems and a skimmia. I had better stop now and move into the back garden as I have a horrible feeling that I don’t have the room for all the plants I consider indispensable for a winter garden.
The back garden has benefitted from the attention of the tree surgeon.
At great expense I have got rid of three huge conifers, several dead trunks and a variety of dismal trees, a tree house, a rabbit hutch and run, a plastic slide and a huge clump of running bamboo; a phyllostachys variety. The bamboo has had its roots grubbed out with a stump grinder but I am sure it is just biding its time to make a come-back.
There is a little pond and I have planted a little weeping larch, Larix kaempferi at its side. I have one or two acers in pots to sit round it and by the bench down here I have planted one of my essential trees, the fabulous Cercis canadensis ‘ Forest Pansy’. It has velvety deep reddish-purple leaves which turn golden and purple in autumn. In the photo it is shown growing by the pond in my old garden with the wonderful Cornus alternifolia with silvery-white, variegated leaves. The blue poppies didn’t last, of course. If you buy blue poppies in Suffolk you have to treat them as an annual.
There are a few trees in the garden here which have been spared by the wood chopper. One is a huge magnolia which I think will turn out to be Magnolia soulangeana and there is a good specimen of Magnolia stellata. I am crazy about magnolias so I have also bought ‘Leonard Messel’ which tends not to be so susceptible to frost and I love its tattered flowers so I had to have one, and I managed to find one that was a decent size and didn’t break the bank.
There is an upright Irish yew which I have spared and a large ancient apple which has been disfigured by brutal pruning at some time, but I shall grow a Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose up it.
There is a pear which has also suffered from some cruel pruning but I am saving it to use as a climbing frame for a clematis. The only other tree I spared is a conifer, I think it is a cryptomeria which lent itself to being pruned into a lollipop shape.
It is hard not to have room for lots of blossom trees but I have bought Prunus ‘Kursar’ which is quite compact and I love it for its dark pink flowers which appear in March just as we are feeling that we have had enough of winter. It has good autumn colour too. The one in the picture is only a few years old so mine should soon look like that.
Every garden can find room for a little Fuji cherry. I love Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ for its delicate pale pink flowers in spring. It looks good in winter with its zig zag branches and it has red and copper leaves in autumn, so it is a good all year-rounder. It is very slow growing.
If I feel that I can’t manage without any frothy pink blossom I will try to find Prunus ‘Little Pink Perfection’. ‘Pink Perfection’ is one of the showiest cherries with long-lasting rose-pink blossom flowering into early May. It has a good autumn colour too. I haven’t got room for ‘Pink Perfection’ but ‘Little Pink Perfection’ is a naturally dwarf form and grows to about half its size and would grow in a tub.
I feel sad that I can’t grow lots of crab apple trees because I love them. I have bought one little tree because it had lost its label and was very cheap. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be a large one. There are a couple of smaller growing varieties and I hope I have room for one of them. One is Malus ‘Coralburst’ which is a naturally dwarf variety with coral pink buds opening to deep rose pink flowers followed by bronze fruit. The other is a very small variety with a lovely habit and white flowers followed by cherry- like fruit. It is called Malus ‘Tina’.
In May, my last must-have magnolia comes into bloom. It has cream, fragrant flowers bursting from brown suede-like buds and evergreen leaves. It is Magnolia ‘Gail’s Favourite’ and it is mine too and I must find room for it.
For summer, I have to have a small philadelphus for wonderful fragrance. I love P.’Snowbelle’ with gleaming white double flowers but I don’t find it as strongly fragrant as some others. This is the one in the picture below. I think I might go for ‘Belle Etoile’ this time. It has fragrant flowers stained with wine red at the centres.
I love white flowers so I must have a white-flowered cornus which should look good against the black shed. I think the best white flowered one is Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’. Another cornus which I hope I have room for is Cornus alternifolia which was much admired in my previous garden where I grew it by the pond. It has small variegated leaves and and a layered habit a bit like its big sister Cornus contraversa, the Wedding Cake tree. I hope the Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ in the picture is still alive, it is yet another shrub which suffered from last year’s drought.
For summer, I shall grow a mallow, Abutilon vitifolium as I love its large single violet flowers. The one in my last garden died in the very cold spell in early winter. The variety I like is ‘Veronica Tennant’ but you can get a white one too. My plant never produced seedlings but I have a friend who has plenty of babies so I can grow one on. They are quick growing.
Another plant which was much admired in my previous garden is the lovely Indigofera pendula. This has dainty pinnate leaves and racemes of violet pink flowers. The weeping form is difficult to find so I hope I can track one down.
I have to grow something for autumn colour and I particularly love liquidamber. I know it grows big but there is an upright form. It is called Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’ and as it has a fastigate habit it will be fine at the bottom of the garden and nearby I will plant another autumn must- have which is the Katsura tree which has beautiful coloured autumn foliage which smells of toffee apples. Cercidiphyllum japonicum grows very big and is fast growing, but there is a smaller weeping form which I used to grow and I hope I can find it again. It is Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Pendulum’.
I haven’t mentioned roses and of course I must have lots as they are my passion. Fortunately I have lots of walls and fences and I have bought some arches. I have bought quite a few bare-root roses which are just heeled in at the moment and I will talk about them another day. I am still reeling at how much I spent on them.
I have no idea whether I have room for all these shrubs and trees that seem so essential to my happiness. And I am sure as I think some more and the season goes on, I will come up with others that I can’t live without. Obviously this is going to be a problem. I’d be interested to hear about other people’s must have trees and shrubs.
Best wishes with the new garden and all the plans and plants.
Thank you Paddy. It is good to have a gardening project at last.
In time your new space will be as lovely as your old space. I for one cant wait to see the plan work out.
Thank you. I hope it will be lovely, right now it looks a bit bleak. But I like a challenge.
My newest challenge is turning a daylily bed into a cut flower bed. I may have taken on more than I thought.
How exciting to plan a new garden. I couldn’t do without peonies!
Yes, it is exciting. I agree about peonies, I certainly need a few. I have brought ‘Molly the Witch’ with me but I need a few more.
It will be a challenge to winnow down your must-haves, Liz. I look forward to watching your new garden evolve.
Well, my list will certainly need a little winnowing but will be fun to do.
You have a LOT of work in front of you it seems! I hope your new garden isn’t as small as you made it sound in your introductory statements. Maybe it’s time to draw a rough sketch outlining all your new acquisitions if you haven’t done so already 😉 I’m sure you’ll figure it out and I look forward to seeing how you put it together.
My own must-haves changed dramatically when we moved 12 years ago – even though the move was just 15 miles south, what worked in my old garden didn’t work in my new one. I’d never have imagined having any of the large agaves and aloes and other succulents I have now in my former garden but now it’s hard to imagine a garden without those sculptural forms. The only absolute must I still have is color.
Well, I know I can’t fit everything in, but these are things I have left behind and I don’t like the idea of being without them.
I would love to grow all the succulents that you enjoy outside in your lovely garden.
Happy New Garden to you! I can tell that your gardening imagination is going into overdrive, so much potential, so many great loves to include. I know you will make it a beautiful space, it sounds like you have already made a good start.
Thank you Gill. Yes, planning the garden keeps me awake at nights. I have to wait to get the huge deck reduced and the gravel round the front removed before I can really get going. But as I keep changing my mind about the shape of things this is probably a good thing.
Things evolve. But you know that. 🙂
I am so pleased that you have returned and have a new garden. I’m looking forward to following the developments.
Thank you Christine. I have missed the blogging community but I didn’t have the heart for garden talk whilst I was waiting to move.
Glad to hear you have now moved in and hope you settle in quickly. Wishing you good luck with the garden too! Your definition of a ‘small’ garden may need clarifying 😉 as you mention so many shrubs you would like! I couldn’t imagine having a garden without the traditional shrubs such as lilac, buddleia or forsythia (for that spring colour I crave) but I agree on the Philadelphus Snowbelle which I have in my Moon Bed, and would definitely need a cherry or other spring blossom too. I shall look forward to seeing it come together Liz. Have fun!
Thank you Cathy. It is snowing at the moment but I will measure ths garden before my next post. It seems small to me but I come from over an acre and I was used to having room for whatever took my fancy. I was wondering if I have room for a lilac but they do sucker. Snowbelle is so pretty and yes, I agree cherry blossom is essential.
It is great to see your posts again. I agree with Cathy and was trying to understand how small your small garden really is. You seem to have room for lots of interesting plants and I’m looking forward to seeing it evolve.
Oh it sounds as if you have decisions to make and a challenge working out what you will fit in Chloris. No doubt you will more than rise to the challenge and have much fun along the way. Did you take any of your snowdrops with you? After all they are a must have for a winter garden 😂 If there are any that you are missing I would be pleased to send any spares I have your way.
How lovely to hear from you Chloris and to hear that the planning has begun – we definitely do need a better idea of the ‘real’ size of your new plot, and some ‘before’ photos too. With so many beauties in your old garden, whittling down the ‘must haves’ can’t be easy – but what an exciting time for you even if it is not just a blank canvas. I envisage having to stretch my own boundaries further by all the temptations you continue to inadverantly throw my way! My Beni has been absolutely glorious this year, by the way 😊
Hope you are both well and pleased to have got the actial move done and dusted 👍
You’re getting your chance to start almost from scratch in creating a whole new garden. What a wonderful opportunity. Love the dreams and plans you’re sharing. And yes, it will be interesting to look out from a conservatory onto a garden – lovely to have a conservatory, a long-held dream of many gardeners. Thanks for the update, my friend.
Goodness, you are certainly getting stuff done! I can’t wait to see these gardens develop and grow.xxx