The Year Of The Mountain Goat

The Drive Wm


This is a picture you haven’t seen before.

It’s a long shot up the drive from the week we moved in. Entering the property felt like going on a magical mystery tour. Or descending into the gloomiest of black holes, depending on your point of view. Either way, both the surveyor and the thatcher insisted that the trees be removed. The house roof was deteriorating under the overhang of those branches. And you can see just how close the trees were. In the current run of gales I’ve been extremely thankful that they are no longer there.


The Drive 003 Wm


Sans arbres. Well most of them.


The Drive 002 Wm


And the same view today.

Stark in winter, with few leaves on the trees, but lighter and more open without a doubt.



 I’ve been gradually introducing more colour, as a photo from this autumn shows. Even on a dreary wet day.

The Cornus, Magnolia, Camellia, Enkianthus et al will, I hope, grow to a more manageable height. A surviving oak to the left of the picture I’ve been trying to keep trimmed back. It may yet come out.


Hail 02 Wm


It’s been a funny old year.

A cold, late Spring followed by a glorious warm summer.


Allium 003 Wm[1]


The perennials in the terraced borders responded beautifully at first..


Terraces 001 Wm


 Then just grew and grew, threatening to overwhelm.

It’s a Spring garden primarily and needs more work to extend the interest across the year.


Hydrangea moved 1 Wm


 We wrestled with the relocation of some whopping great shrubs.

The Hydrangea was too heavy for even the two of us to lift. It arrived at its new home having been unceremoniously rolled down the slope. Too big for the ‘formal’ part of the garden but finding an ideal position on the newly exposed bank. More of the large plants from the terraces will follow next Spring, opening up space for new plantings.


Wilderness Wm


It wasn’t just the perennials that loved this summer’s warmth. The weeds didn’t do too badly either. Goodness knows how many years’ worth of dormant seeds erupted into life in the area once covered by trees.


Wilderness clearing 002 Wm[1]


Taking several months to clear.


The bank 6 Wm


The lower part of the bank, late summer.

A work in progress. Most suited to a person with a penchant for climbing hills. If you would excuse me, I must go and file my hooves.


Linking up with Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog, where you will discover what other gardeners have been up to this December.


2018-02-24T18:38:00+00:00December 29th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Sue@GLAllotments December 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Hope you have a safety harness too

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      No safety harness, but there are plenty of old tree roots to hold on to!

  2. Denise December 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    When I look at the stump of the eucalyptus tree that we had in our back garden I am glad we decided to have it chopped down – the weather has been so rough recently it definitely would have come crashing down by now, probably on some unfortunate hens! I appreciate your sense of relief when you look at your tree-less bank!

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      The sound of the wind in those trees made me feel very vulnerable indeed. There are more to go yet, but the worst offenders are down.

      • Jayne Hill January 2, 2014 at 8:17 am - Reply

        Completely understand that sentiment. When we moved here I was terrified every time it got windy, convinced 40 foot tall Leylandii were going to come crashing down.

        You’ve made an amazing difference so far and it’s only when one sits back to review a set of pictures you can see just HOW MUCH you have achieved.

        Echo the comment you made below to Jessica – falling for an unusual property is one thing, accurately judging just how much work it’s going to be is a completely different matter.

        • Jessica January 2, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

          Everything grows so quickly down here, given the relatively mild wet climate. I am learning that I need to be selective with plants, a Mediterranean garden it is not, but the right choices establish well. The problem is that the weeds do too..

  3. Joanne December 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    A never ending job though. I do hope your hoof filing went well!.

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      I fell for the house knowing that it would be hard work. Totally underestimated quite how hard though..

  4. Chloris December 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful place you have, Jessica.It must have been so exciting coming down that lane for the first time and finding the thatched cottage, and you are making a wonderful job of the garden.

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      It all seems to be progressing very slowly to me.. The weeds grow faster than I can keep up! I hope it will be lovely one day. In my lifetime would be good. Thanks Chloris.

  5. snowbird December 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful garden you have, steep or not! I love it, it’s so individual. It’s a good thing some of those trees are down though, especially after some of the winds we’ve had. May next year bring all you hope for. All the very best to

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      The wind is howling around us again tonight. I do wish it would stop. Thanks snowbird, and the very same to you.

  6. Sarah December 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica it looks a magical location. Thank goodness those trees were removed.Your terrace and all the work you have done on the bank looks wonderful. I shall enjoy seeing your garden delights in the year to come.
    Sarah x

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      I’d like to think that the worst of the work is done on the bank now, but maintaining it is still going to be a challenge. There’s a lot of bare soil still to cover.

  7. haggiz December 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    I can see a Rusty Duck Garden Calendar in the future! Happy New Year Jessica. Jx

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Oh-er… that will mean photos without any weeds? You too Julie.

  8. CJ December 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    I’m sure it must be good for you, gardening on a slope. You’ve reminded me what a lovely summer it was. I’m looking forward to seeing all the plants you’ve moved and put in when they flower next year. I’m thinking it will all look lovely.

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      I hope so CJ. It’s at this time of year, when the structure is bare, that you can see exactly what you want to do. But the soil is still way too wet to work. I’m putting on far too much weight without the gardening that’s for sure.

  9. Amy at love made my home December 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Lovely to see the changes and progress that you have made, looking foward to seeing more over the next year! xx

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Amy. I could just do with another good summer! Two in a row too much to hope for perhaps.

  10. Freda December 29, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    It does look like a wonderful place! Lots of work, but if you enjoy it….you will make it even more special.

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      A huge amount of work. I just wish we had your glorious views!

  11. wherefivevalleysmeet December 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Dear Jessica – I opt for the magical mystery tour – I imagine every time you return home and see your little road you have a smile on your face.

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      It still feels a bit black hole-ish to me, even now there are too many trees and not enough light. It’s getting better though. Shutting the gate at the top of the track does have a good feeling.

  12. Sol December 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    it all looks stunning even in the winter and your house peeping out more now. It really is lovely

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sol. We have roof problems too though.. !

  13. Jo December 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    You definitely had your work cut out for you, but you’ve done magnificently. I look forward to seeing what happens throughout 2014.

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. I am getting a bit braver with wide shots now, so you will see how it develops warts and all.

  14. Cathy December 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    It took me a moment to realise your cottage was down below the trees on the left in your first picture….. Yes, probably better safe than sorry – what could have happened if the wind got to them hardly bears thinking about. Any chance of sketching a map of your property sometime, Jessica? It would help us readers get our bearings when you show us all the lovely pictures of your woods and banks and borders. I look forward to following your progress with them all next year 🙂

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      I’m working on a map, can’t promise it will be as artistic as yours though!

  15. islandthreads December 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    well done Jessica, you have achieved quite a lot in a year, the cutting of the trees must have given way to a lot more light through any windows that side of your house as well, your terrace beds look very lush and I know you say there’s no colour but there is a variety of shades of green and plenty of textural interest and no room for weeds! that’s what I’d like to achieve, Frances

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      No room for weeds is very high on my list Frances! Thanks.

      • islandthreads February 1, 2015 at 12:44 pm - Reply

        as I started reading this post I thought it seems familiar …….. lol it’s my age, that’s my defense anyway, Frances

        • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 9:08 pm - Reply

          Apologies Frances, I didn’t look to see if you’d commented before attaching the link. We all read so many blog posts it’s simply impossible to keep track of everything. I rely on it actually, it means I don’t have to feel guilty about repeating myself!

          • islandthreads February 15, 2015 at 12:09 pm

            Jessica please do not apologise, no need, I was commenting on my lack of memory and as you say we read so many blogs it becomes hard to remember, I would never expect anyone to remember what I have commented on and would not be able to remember myself, I’m glad you attached the link as it reminded me and I can better see what you have been, still are dealing with, no need to reply to this, Frances

  16. Helen December 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    What beautiful shapes and colours – such a lot of work I’m sure buit so worthwhile. I’m with Haggiz on the calendar idea!

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      I could certainly do with the pennies, being able to pay for some help now and again would be very nice!

  17. Crafty Gardener December 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I always have a hard time making the decision to take out a tree or shrub, but in the interests of safety it is a necessity. I’m sure you house benefits from some added light and the worry of those trees falling onto the property are gone. You certainly have a keep fit routine when gardening.

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      I wish our winters were not so wet, getting out to do some digging would make me feel so much better after the excesses of Christmas.

  18. Abby December 29, 2013 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    The terraced borders look great. Are they south facing? Do you have views of? Mountains / the sea? Fom the cottage. You must work very hard, but it’s really paying off. Abby x

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      They are more or less south facing. From the very top of the hill we look out over rolling Devon hills, but from the house level and below it’s just an awful lot of trees! Thanks Abby.

  19. CherryPie December 29, 2013 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Judging by your photographs, you have made great progress.

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. The trees came down a couple of years ago, but much of the work on the bank and the terraces has been this year. And my, don’t my bones know it!

  20. nataliescarberry December 30, 2013 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Wow, what a lovely piece of property and what pretty plantings. Yours is the kind of magical place I’ve always dreamed of. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Natalie. Next year I want to concentrate on the terraced beds and really get them right, rather ignored this year in favour of the bank.

  21. Linda December 30, 2013 at 2:07 am - Reply

    Such a cool landscape….i love it, Jessica!
    To be green all year…would be magical for sure!
    Hope your Christmas was wonderful…and all the best in 2014!
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      If some of our forecasters are to be believed you may get to see snowy pictures from here yet!

  22. Charlie@Seattle Trekker December 30, 2013 at 3:32 am - Reply

    It is cold and dreary here, your garden photos are such a wonderful relief.

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm - Reply

      It’s much the same here, cheered myself up no end looking for summery pictures too. Hey ho, at least the days are getting longer again. Thanks Charlie.

    • justjilluk December 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      You have done a great job. I love reading your blog. When I saw the hader I thought you had got a four legged one!

      • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm - Reply

        Jill, brilliant idea. I could kit it out with panniers to hold all my gardening tools, and a bucket round its neck to collect the weeds. If it nibbled a few it wouldn’t matter.. more manure for the roses!

  23. Virginia December 30, 2013 at 3:44 am - Reply

    It’s just as well we don’t have ‘fore-sight’ or we’d never be brave enough to take on life’s most rewarding challenges! You have achieved so much, and the whole section pools so much lighter. Being ruthless with those large trees must have made you feel relieved during those storms! 2014 will bring even more challenges, but the successes will build from what you’ve achieved already, so it should be a great year. I do so enjoy reading about what you’re doing. Happy New Year to you both.

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm - Reply

      I would have thought very carefully indeed about taking this on if I’d known then what I know now. But we did and so onwards! I think the biggest challenge for next year will be to keep the weeds in check on the bank. Planting will be the key, so I want to get a lot more done as early as I can come Spring.
      A very Happy New Year to you too Virginia.

  24. SeagullSuzie December 30, 2013 at 9:23 am - Reply

    How lovely to see your garden projects. Love the before and after ones. You do live in a beautifully green and lush spot. I hope 2014 brings lots of wonderful gardening experiences.

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks Suzie. Very lush, thanks to all our Devon rain!

  25. Anne @ Life in Mud Spattered Boots December 30, 2013 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Such hard work. I bemoan the fact that my garden is very flat and wish it had a little undulation and different levels but having seen your garden, I realise that flat is an awful lot easier. Though not half so dramatic. Lovely to see a work in progress.

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      There has to be a brilliant compromise out there somewhere. When it comes to slopes it doesn’t have to be quite so extreme! It is hard work, but even harder is getting the heights of all the plants right, they are a law unto themselves at the best of times without having to allow for their position on the slope relative to each other.

  26. countrysidetales December 30, 2013 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Nice to see some different shots of the house. You do have your work cut out for you but at least it’s nice work 🙂

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      Mostly! Can’t wait to get out again to be honest. I am looking at all the work to be done but it’s a quagmire everywhere.

  27. Rosie December 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    You have a very beautiful garden with lots of challenging aspects to it. It has been interesting to see photos of your garden throughout the year and the changes and progress you have made – good luck with the hoof filing! Happy New Year:)

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      I hope next year it will start to feel as though we are making progress. Getting the terraces and bank established and moving on to a new part of the garden would be very exciting!

  28. Denise December 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    Neigh! lol!
    Happy New Year Jessica. Dxxx

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      You too Denise x

  29. Pats. December 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Your first pic reminds me of the track beside Loch Venachar in Scotland; just as beautiful. And I love the way mother nature will not let you tame her, she really does want you to keep fit! Happy New Year to you all.


    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      When we were house hunting it was either the SW or Scotland, this place reminds me a lot of the latter. The hills and the conifers!

  30. woolythymes December 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I LOVE that house…..and all the work you have done to make it and it’s surroundings shine! I’m a firm believer in ‘house personality’…..and you have one very happy house. (I can see it in it’s windows!!!)!

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      You should see all the bits that evade the photographer’s lens! But seriously, we are making progress I hope. I wonder what the next year will bring. Thanks Steph.

  31. Laura December 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    If that’s what you call “stark” in winter…

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      OK, I stand corrected. All things are relative. Although I actually prefer snow because it covers all the dead bits up!

  32. Simone December 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    You live in a gorgeous place Jessica. I look forward to seeing how your garden develops over the coming months. x

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      It has its challenges like everywhere else, but it is coming on. Thanks Simone.

  33. Suzanne Dutchess County, NY, USA December 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    What headway you’ve made! All so worth it. Now that you’ve looked back at all the toil and troubles you can see the difference. Now I can’t help myself with this pun but, ” it really is all downhill from here!”
    The hard stuff is done. You can see what you have, what you didn’t like is gone and you have an idea of what you want it to be. The plan will change over time but it will be all yours and an expression of who you are.
    It’s a lovely place and I feel fortunate to see it evolve. You are Inspiring, motivating and sometimes funny.
    Thanks for all you share.
    Happy New Year!

    • Jessica December 31, 2013 at 9:29 am - Reply

      And the same to you Suzanne.
      From a ‘proper’ gardener that is high praise. Thank you.

      • Suzanne Dutchess County, NY, USA December 31, 2013 at 9:04 pm - Reply

        All gardeners are the same. No one knows everything, what are the best plants, what goes with what, how tall this will be or whether or not a plant grows in a particular spot. It’s all trial and error. What’s in at the moment or what ones preferences are. All this changes too with what we learn, or how are tastes change. That’s what makes gardening exciting and fresh, the worlds biggest past time and passion. The more you work at it the better it’s gets. I’d say your a proper gardener by now too.

        • Jessica December 31, 2013 at 10:50 pm - Reply

          What’s nice about it is that constant change. I used to think you plant something and that’s it. Mike still thinks that. But it’s actually a process of constant curation. Which means you always have another chance to make it right, or different. My plants are going to have to learn to be nomadic. Thanks Suzanne, have a great new year.

  34. BadPenny December 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    Wonderful xx

    • Jessica December 31, 2013 at 9:29 am - Reply

      Thanks Penny 🙂

  35. Pauline December 31, 2013 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Wow, you have made a difference and I’m sure your thatch feels a lot happier now. It is sad when large trees have to come down, but in the interests of safety, its obvious what has to be done. I will look forward to seeing your photos of all your new plantings.

    • Jessica December 31, 2013 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      I know Pauline, I feel the same about trees. But these should never have been planted where they were. OK at a quarter of the size I guess.

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