Does It Get Any Tougher?

Extreme gardening.

Now that some of the weeds have gone, you can see more easily just how steep this slope is, especially the lower half. It expends so much of my energy just climbing around it and then staying upright, never mind clearing the soil. But I am making progress, if you compare with the ‘before’ picture we took last week:


The bank 3 Wm


There is still a long way to go. The large ‘shrub’ closest to the house is a sprouting sycamore tree stump, I need to do something about that. And source the plants that will go back in. But it’s a start. A couple of hours a day on that slope is just about enough.


Woodpecker 023 Wm


The woodpecker chicks are growing up fast, constantly swooping around the garden with their distinctive loud chirps. I have seen three of them now. They are sneaky. Having mastered the feeders they’re quite capable of finding food any time they like. But as soon as Woodrow appears they go straight back into baby mode again, perching on the pole of the bird table and calling out for food. Why put in the effort when Dad can do all the hard work?


Unknown plant Wm


Does anyone know what this is?

It’s come up in one of the terraced borders, not something I’ve grown before. It would appear to be a bulb of some sort, with long narrow leaves. One of the very few to avoid the attentions of the mice.


And at last it would appear that good weather is on the way. Enjoy!


2017-11-17T18:43:06+00:00July 4th, 2013|Tags: , |


  1. Jo July 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Those woodpecker chicks sound just like my kids, won’t do a thing if I’m around to do it for them, lazy urchins. What a difference you’ve made in a week, it’s looking great.

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo.
      Lazy urchinism could be quite common!

  2. countrysidetales July 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    It’s a flower of some sort Jessica 😉

    We have three woody chicks too- i wonder if that’s coincidence or a regular GSW chick quantity?

    Crikey that bank is certainly lush and steep but you are making headway- have you fixed climbing ropes to utilise a pulley systems in order to work on it?

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      Apparently 3-8 eggs is the normal range. No ropes yet! The infuriating thing is getting settled into a foothold only to find you’ve left an essential bit of kit at the top..

  3. Crafty Gardener July 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    That must be quite the workout on that hill garden. Love seeing the young woodies, we are getting them in our garden too.

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      They are such fun to watch aren’t they? But I’ve had to relocate a standard bottlebrush plant in a pot – one of the babies decided to practice hammering on it’s main stem!

  4. Denise July 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Rather grey here but one lives in hope!

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Patience Denise, it’s coming..

  5. Eleanor from Stitches and Seeds July 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    You are definitely making progress! What is the curly rusty metal thingy in the bottom picture – looks interesting!

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Eleanor and welcome to rusty duck!
      The curly thing is called a Plant Crook, from Plant Belles (here). They are brilliant, you just stick them in the ground and then gently push a flower stem into the curly bit. Hey presto – end of droop!

  6. Em July 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    No idea what the plant is but I’d love to know if you find out – it’s beautiful. I’m impressed you can do two hours on that slope; I’m not sure I’d last ten minutes!

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      It will be a lot less if it’s going to get hot. Might need to move to a siesta incorporating regime.

  7. Annie July 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Wow impressive weed clearing, and a familiar sight doing the same trying to establish our garden, have a steep banking to clear too, although not as big as yours, I cleared and replanted half, went on holiday and blow me down the brambles and horses tail are back !!!!! the lovely plant looks a little bit like an Acidanthera but could be wrong. Annie x

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Annie and welcome to rusty duck!
      I haven’t come across horse tail yet, but brambles we have aplenty. They are the pits aren’t they? I’ve tried digging some of them out, but they go deep. Close to the edge I fear I might destabilise the bank, so I’ve cut them off at ground level. When they grow back (with leaves at ground level hopefully) I shall apply something to them and try to kill the root. Don’t know if it will work..
      I can see your thinking with Acidanthera, the flowers have the same maroon base.

  8. Denise July 4, 2013 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Tybalt says it is very tough having to lie around on a sofa snoozing all day and having his ears rubbed of an evening. I said I felt he was being a bit flippant and showed him the before and now photos on your blog, and he said, okay, he would concede that, yes, on this occasion, you might just have a tougher job than he!

    Cats have NO idea.

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      If he is overcome with remorse, feel free to send him down here. He can scratch out some weed seedlings for me. Payment will be one mouse per day, provided it is consumed off the premises and on no account, absolutely no account, deposited on the kitchen floor.

  9. jabblog July 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    That is quite a challenging slope. I don’t think i’d last more than half an hour on it . . .
    All the baby birds are the same. As soon as the parents appear they become helpless and starving.

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 7:58 pm - Reply

      Perhaps I should tape chick-on-feeder photo on the kitchen window, so that Woodrow can see the evidence..

  10. julie thompson July 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    You can really see progress being made on your slope… looks really hard work. Julie x

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks Julie. It is. It’s amazing how fast the weeds grow. Some are taller than me..

  11. Abby July 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    The short answer to your Post question is – ‘No, probably not!’ – that’s a tough garden you’ve taken on. Progress visible though – well done! That’s a pretty, delicate bulb. x

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks Abby.
      The bulb is really lovely, and very delicate, I can’t wait for it to fully open.

  12. Rose H July 4, 2013 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    You have certainly made great inroads to the bank, you must be crossed with a mountain goat to stay up there for 2 hours at a time!
    Well done 🙂
    Sorry, no idea what the plant is, but I like the look of it.
    Rose H

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      I wish I was Rose, I wouldn’t slip down so often!

  13. ournewlifeinthecountry July 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Totally impressed that you last a couple of hours on that slope, we have a similar amount to do but on the flat thank goodness, put me on a hill and I would just cling on not weed or work 🙂

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      I give in when my calf muscles can stand it no longer.

  14. frayed at the edge July 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    I don’t think I could cope with the slope – I would want to throw myself off it, the same urge that I get on bridges and piers (weird, I know!!). As always, severe woodpecker envy. Sorry, I don’t recognise the flower.

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      It’s a very different experience from the top looking down.. I remember climbing a ladder to stand on the roof of our previous house, not pleasant at all.

  15. snowbird July 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    The plant looks like some sort of Lilly…..I haven’t a clue!

    Oh heavens, that slope certainly is something!!! You are making cracking progress, RESPECT!!!!

    Oh my, the woodpeckers sound delightful, I wish I had a family of them flitting about in my garden, lucky you!!! That pic is awesome!xxxx

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      The woodpeckers are delightful, if noisy!

  16. Vera July 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    I know all about gardening on a slope because my last garden was just as steep! Lovely though, just like yours – a proper woodland garden. Here we just have converted field as a garden, with the ‘field’ element winning this year! But gardening on a slope is good for the thighs but I prefer to garden on the flat and let my thighs give in to gravity!

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      I think I have the worst of both worlds, garden on a hill and thighs heading south..

  17. elaine July 4, 2013 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    Keep up the good work you are doing a grand job – it will certainly keep you fit working on that slope.

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      I hope so Elaine – it needs to!

  18. Brismod July 5, 2013 at 7:35 am - Reply

    It is mighty steep. You put me to shame – our garden in on the flat and I still find excuses to not get out there and weed…There’d be definitely no hope for us if our garden was on the slope! xx

    • Jessica July 5, 2013 at 9:20 am - Reply

      It’s certainly not the part of the garden I most enjoy working in. The weather is warming up too now, it will be baking out there. I’ll do my two hours first thing in the morning and get it out of the way I think!

  19. Antoinette July 5, 2013 at 8:17 am - Reply

    Wow what a difference to your slope! Here we have field maples which re-sprout.

    • Jessica July 5, 2013 at 9:22 am - Reply

      It goes against my principles, but I think I’m going to have to get some stump killer for the trees trying to regrow on the edge of the bank.

  20. Gaynor July 6, 2013 at 7:11 am - Reply


    You have made an enormous difference, and with a slope like that will be keeping very fit in the process.

    I’m now going to read through some older posts.

    Keep up the good work!

    keep up the good work

    • Jessica July 6, 2013 at 11:22 am - Reply

      Hi Gaynor and welcome to rusty duck!
      Over the winter and spring I lost a lot of the fitness I built up last year. Hopefully now the weather is improving I can get some of it back! The ageing muscles do ache of an evening though..

  21. Wendy July 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    I am impressed with your ‘before’ and ‘after ‘pics, it does sound hard work weeding there but you’ve cleared lots. I love the pic of the Woodpecker, it looks as though it’s having a free ride. Those babies sound very cunning.

    • Jessica July 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      They do look a bit confused if they get an occasional twirl, courtesy of the squirrels meddling! I’m still having to turn it off if we go out for very long..

  22. Somehow my post two days ago did not go through. You have made great strides on the slope.
    You’ll get it tamed in no time at this rate. Just tackle one chunk each time, it won’t seem so overwhelming that way. It is looking very good!

    • Jessica July 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Suzanne, it did go through but somehow attached itself to the plant photo rather than the post. If you click on the photo you will see it!
      At the base, the stem comes straight out of the ground, a bit like a single iris or crocosmia spike, but very much finer in both foliage and stalk. It certainly looks like a bulb of some sort. Thanks for the encouragement on the bank, much needed. I’m gradually moving along from right to left, it is better to do it in chunks!

      • If the buds open can you take another picture. I do agree with a comment made a few dats ago it looks like acidenthera, but they usually have wide blades of foliage at the base.
        Love a mystery, especially English ones.

        • Jessica July 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm - Reply

          Will do. The flowers have the shape of Galtonia, but the colour of Acidenthera. Extremely narrow foliage, even at the base.

  23. threadspider July 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    When you took on this garden were you looking for a challenge or are you just a tiny bit mad? Hats off to your stirling efforts on that slope and keep on looking at the pics to remind yourself how much you have achieved . It’s going to be fantastic when it is done.
    My first thought about the flower was Galtonia, but looking again I don’t think so. I didn’t have a second thought, unfortunately.

    • Jessica July 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      A bit of both I think!
      The flowers certainly have a Galtonia shape, they’ve come out a bit more now, but I can’t find one with a maroon base.. I’ll keep looking.

  24. Justine July 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Wow, that is some slope! What percentage of your garden is ‘extreme’ like that?

    • Jessica July 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      The area behind the house is the worst, because of the excavations into the side of the hill before building. But virtually all of the garden is on a slope, I would guess it averages out at about 45 degrees. It gets flatter down at the river level, but then here it is very boggy…. so few easy bits really!

  25. Helen July 6, 2013 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    I think your flower is an ixia. I have some raspberry coloured ones in my garden. They are a bulb.

    • Jessica July 6, 2013 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      Helen, I think you have solved the mystery. Ixia Hogarth, I just looked it up.
      Welcome to rusty duck!!

  26. welshhillsagain July 8, 2013 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    I am so impressed with your sloping gardening. We have slope here too but not on that scale. I was going to say Ixia so am pleased someone else thinks the same. I have grown and loved Acidanthera (lost it as have lost so much here) but I don’t think it is quite the same form.

    • Jessica July 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm - Reply

      Now that the flowers have opened, and I have looked up Ixia, it’s a positive ID. It’s a beautiful bulb. Not least because the mice don’t seem to like it. Can I risk getting more I wonder?

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