Fifty Shades Of Purple







The asters are now blooming and, together with the verbena, have altered the balance of the view.

Aside from that, things have moved. Surely not, I hear you say. As intended, the infamous azalea has relocated from centre stage to bottom right. It’s less of a sore thumb down there and I hope will seem better integrated even when if it blooms. Time will tell. The other change I planned last month was the splitting and redistribution of the Hakone grass. I do prefer it where it is now. Plus it’s freed up more space for flowering plants on the lower level, where I can appreciate them closer up. I had three huge clumps of the grass left over to haul up on to the bank and they already look the business cascading down the slope.

A further thing to notice is that there is now more house wall on show. The conifer in the far corner was growing way too big. In another season it would have reached the roof. Viewing the garden from the sitting room window was already becoming a challenge. Fearing that negotiating skills might have been required, I tried to sell it to Mike as an opportunity to play with one of his big boy’s toys but in the end he used a pruning saw and still had the tree down in 20 minutes flat.



Hamamelis ‘Diane’


In its place, a witch hazel. For now. I got it half price. The most likely reason being that the main stem is bent. We tried a stake but it looked hideous, so for the next year or so it will be supported thus. In bondage. The day it was planted it had bright red autumn leaves, until a squirrel or a deer appeared on the scene and chewed off all its nuts. I just hope the flower buds have remained unscathed.

You can see from the old stump how close to the house wall the conifer had been planted. The witch hazel is not much further away and once it has straightened up I will probably have to move it. But it is slow growing and in the meantime I will have flowers where I can get to them easily in January and, confined within the walls, a pool of delicious scent.



I have spread the asters around a bit. The far end of the bed is looking better now with a focus on autumn colour. At the beginning of the year it was mostly just a tangle of ivy here.



Verbena bonariensis ‘Lollipop’ and Rudbeckia ‘Little Goldstar’

The rudbeckia appeared in the mid-month bloomers post. I got it at B&Q. Waiting for Mike to buy screws or some such and to relieve the boredom (they say a woman takes forever to choose..) I wandered into regions horticultural. There was a stunning display of these two plants and I couldn’t resist the combo. You can imagine the look on Himself’s face when he returned to his trolley and found the rudbeckia perched atop his DIY essentials.



Sempervivum ‘Terracotta Baby’

Following the success of the sempervivum-in-the wall experiment I have acquired two more.



So is it time to leave the terraces alone now? Remember, put the tools back in the shed and throw away the key?

Not quite.



The top terrace, which doesn’t really show up in the usual view, is particularly uninspiring.

There is nothing left in bloom bar the clump of asters plonked in there because I had nowhere else to put them. But the worst problem here is that Lily of the Valley has completely taken over. All summer long I’ve been pulling up shoots whose roots pervade the bed from one end to the other. The next job is to dig the whole lot out. Some of the Lily of the Valley will go back in, but this time sunk into the ground in pots to hopefully restrict their spread. In the process I can split the geums and Snow In Summer and generally regain a little order. There are some spring bulbs ready to go in there too.


Nothing else for it then. Onwards…


Linking up with Helen’s End Of Month View (here) at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Click through to find out what other gardeners are up to this month.


2018-04-21T20:03:39+00:00September 30th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Crafty Gardener September 30, 2014 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    I think the house looks better without the conifer and I’m sure the view from inside is much better. Lily of the valley … such an invasive species, but has a gorgeous smell to it. We dug out lots and lots, and then lots and lots more. It just keep popping up in the least expected places.

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      My plan is to put it on the face of the steep slope, where its invasive roots can do some good and help to bind the soil. It’ll be at nose level too!

  2. Countrysidetales September 30, 2014 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    M bought me a witch hazel for my birthday last year. I am waiting with baited breath for it to flower this winter….

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      They are wonderful plants, not least because they bloom when not much else does. Which variety do you have?

  3. Benjamin September 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Lovely! Can’t wait to see the witch hazel do its thing! Cheers, Ben

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      It has flower buds, just as long as those damn squirrels haven’t damaged them. Although from the hoof prints left in the soil I think more likely a deer.

  4. AnnetteM September 30, 2014 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    I love your two views – you should run a spot the difference competition. The rudbeckia and verbena combo is great. I have Little Goldstar too and what a star it is. I had also planned on getting the smaller form of verbena next year, but hadn’t thought of putting them together before. I will now though. Don’t get me started on invasive plants – I think they should come with a health warning. Our health that is – not the plants. I have spent the last three days digging out a mass of heuchara roots, but I don’t think I have it all yet. I will probably be pulling it up forever. I am wondering whether to replant the heuchara in pots or if the roots will still find their way out as they go quite deep. I do like it though so I might risk it.

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      I wish I could get heuchera to grow at all. They just turn up their toes here. Isn’t it odd that plants have such strong preferences as to where and where not they will grow.

  5. Janet/Plantaliscious September 30, 2014 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Oh, I approve! Azalea much better where it is now, and a witch hazel, however wonky, is a vast improvement on a light-smothering conifer. That far end of the bed is looking positively spiffy, and I do love how the walls are softened by so many plants. Grand progress, bet you wish that slope of yours was as accessible!

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      So far the azalea appears to have survived its ordeal, it was a devil of a job to shift it. I was planning on using the slope for next year’s EOMV. Providing I can negotiate terms with the chief photographer. And providing I don’t break an ankle first.

  6. Em September 30, 2014 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    It all looks gorgeous. I can’t wait to see that witch hazel next year. Does it need sun??? Could I have one here do you think??

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      This from the RHS:

      An open, sunny position is best, as plants become straggly in shade, although they do tolerate partial shade. Avoid exposed and windy positions.

      Young witch hazels can be damaged by hard frosts, so avoid frost pockets, or be prepared to protect plants with a couple of layers of horticultural fleece in their first few years if there is a hard winter or late spring frost.

      Witch hazels need free-draining soil conditions with an adequate supply of moisture. A light soil with plenty of added organic matter, such as well-rotted manure or compost, is best. They will tolerate heavy or clay soils if they are improved by digging in organic matter and by ensuring good drainage.

      Acid to neutral soil pH is preferred (pH 4.5-6.5). Witch hazels may tolerate deep soils over chalk, with plenty of added organic matter. If they become chlorotic (yellow) because of the high pH, then treatment with a chelated (sequestrated) iron fertiliser, ideally one that also contains manganese, can help. They are unlikely to tolerate shallow chalky soils.

  7. Jo September 30, 2014 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    I love witch hazels, it’ll be lovely to watch it doing its thing. I’ve planted lily of the valley in my garden but it doesn’t seem to like it, it does come back each year but it isn’t getting cosy.

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      You wouldn’t want it getting too cosy, believe me! It’s a lovely plant, especially for the scent, but it has the annoying habit of undermining everything else around it and then pushing up through it. My drastic step of digging out the whole border is the only way forward now.

  8. Mark and Gaz September 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    Great decision to have the conifer out Janet, the area looks so much better. And glorious shades of purple you have there in your lovely garden 🙂

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      It does look better now doesn’t it. I wonder if it was one of those supposedly dwarf specimens planted in the 80s that just grew and grew.

  9. threadspider September 30, 2014 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Looking good. You seem to have the terraces under control in the best possible way, except for that pesky lily of the valley. It seems to be one of those plants that either sulks in your garden or is flamboyant. Mine is the latter, like yours. Don’t think I’m going to find time this autumn to deflate it! The witch hazel looks like a good buy. Going to be a treat for the senses in December.

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      I hope that with the big bulky items gone I now have scope to make the terraces more balanced. There are still some gaps but I can fill them at my leisure, starting again in Spring.

  10. elaine September 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Slowly but surely the plan is coming together. I have no problem at all with Lily of the Valley it just won’t grow for me. But I would love a Witch Hazel – I’m gonna keep my eye out.

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      It’s one of my favourite trees, with the bonus of fantastic autumn colour too.

  11. Linda from Each Little World September 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    I’ve spent the last year digging out Lily of the valley with some success, so it’s not a hopeless task. I have two native witch hazels (a spring and a fall bloomer) and they are big. One is 14 years old and the other is 16. You will definitely have to move your baby at some point. I would not worry too much about the shape of your little plant as they are pretty asymmetrical once they start growing.

    • Jessica September 30, 2014 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      Just opposite where the witch hazel now is there is an enormous pine tree which in the grand scheme of things is coming out. The witch hazel will move across when that happens. It will still enjoy the shelter of the house but have a lot more space to grow. Thanks for the encouragement on the Lily of the Valley too. At least the roots don’t seem to go too deep… just everywhere!

  12. John going gently October 1, 2014 at 12:13 am - Reply

    I wish u lived closer
    Your garden would win our flower show best garden comp

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Ahhh, but the judge would have to walk through some seriously neglected bits before he got to the terraces!

  13. Suzanne Dutchess County, NY, USA October 1, 2014 at 12:16 am - Reply

    It is looking super! I always find that lily of the valley always is in an awkward spot no matter where I go. I like to move it where you won’t notice the yellowing brown foliage come July August here in New England. Those mats of roots are a bugger! I try to place them on the wooded edges of gardens under shrubs, or in places like your slope. Where you can smell them and no have them take over the beds. I really like the placement of the hakonechloa grasses. For your upper bed, could you get away with the autumn crocus or would the rodents prevail?

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:17 am - Reply

      As I’m sure I’ll always have plenty, the Lily of the Valley will be going into the woodland too. At least the weeds don’t grow through it! The face of the slope seems a very good bet though so that’s where the first lot will go.
      The rodents would prevail at the moment, but I have a cunning plan…

  14. Charlie@Seattle Trekker October 1, 2014 at 6:51 am - Reply

    I absolutely love the terraced gardens that are so central to your design. You have really taken that a step further by optimizing your planting in each bed; the witch hazel is going to be such a perfect addition.

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:21 am - Reply

      Thanks Charlie. I think they are on the right track now, I just need to fill the gaps. I couldn’t resist that witch hazel, not at half price!

  15. islandthreads October 1, 2014 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Jessica I smiled at your comment that the top border isn’t working because when I looked at the photo I thought what a lovely tapestry of texture and colour lol, I quite understand about the lily of the valley though if a plant dominates even if we like it, it has to be dealt with, the garden is looking better for the moves and I can see why you loved the rudbeckia and verbena combination it is beautiful, I like the little white crocus, Frances

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Other than put in a few geums I’ve done very little with the top bed since inheriting it, so the lily of the valley problem will give me an opportunity to revamp it. It doesn’t really show up from below so I think I can get away with a bit more height. Not too much though, one of the glories of the terraces is that they can be viewed from both sides. From the top there is a lovely view down the garden which I hope will get even better in the future when we clear the way down to the river.

  16. Sigrun October 1, 2014 at 9:05 am - Reply

    I have no witchhazel! But I wont …
    Verbenas a so beautfil in the borders with asters! I love your garden.


    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Thanks Sigrun. There is a lot more purple than shows up in the first photo because part of it is out of shot. I now need more colour to balance it out a bit. The asters and verbena have done very well here, I will have more than enough to spread round the garden indefinitely I suspect!

  17. Annie Edwards October 1, 2014 at 10:44 am - Reply

    lovely garden images – your hard work really shines through. I love verbena – they seem to go on flowering forever. I was interested in your notes on Witch Hazel, do you know if the branches can be used for staking climbing plants in the same way as hazel?

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      I’ve never had a plant large enough to think about cutting branches Annie, it grows so slowly. I’d be inclined to leave them for the wonderful flowers and stick with the hazel.

  18. Joanne October 1, 2014 at 11:36 am - Reply

    I want a witch hazel now & I would pay full price & no dear come into my garden! Lovely photos as usual! What is it with men & B&Q, we had to visit one on Sunday because Mike wanted to replace the down pipes at the back of the house. I’m sure he had me on an invisible leash as I could quite get the the garden section.

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      They are drawn to B&Q by some similarly invisible force I think. It seems we cannot pass it by without stopping. Not to worry, I shall know where to make a beeline for next time.

  19. Julieanne Porter (@GwenfarsGarden) October 1, 2014 at 11:57 am - Reply

    I think changing the conifer for a Hamamelis is a great idea. Hopefully your little tree will settle in ok and then you will have such gorgeous colour and fragrance to enjoy close to the house. I’m glad to see that your sempervivum-in-the wall experiment is going well and you are developing it ./further. The rudbekia and verbena do look very good, wonderful contrast. The terrace has come a long way and is a really great feature Jessica.

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      The sempervivums seem to love it in the wall, I hope yours are faring likewise. I think we are slowly getting there with the terraces. I saw a picture of them the other day from just after we moved in.. the weeds in the bottom bed were over a metre high!

  20. Dorothy Borders October 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Things are really shaping up in your garden and your plans sound great. Fifty shades of purple are definitely superior to fifty shades of grey!

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      I think you are right!

  21. hoehoegrow October 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Plants are decidedly fickle ! you can’t stop Lily of the valley from spreading and I can’t get it to SURVIVE! How can that be ? I thought it was a forgiving plant but no, it can definitely hold a grudge.
    I love the Rudbeckia, verbena combo, and may have to give it a try, unless you or B & Q have copyrighted it !! I like ‘Lollipop’ better than ‘the tall one’, which, in my garden, wafts around with its head in the clouds, dwarfing everything else!

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      The tall V. bonariensis just flops here. The valley is reasonably sheltered, but I always end up having to support it and that’s not a good look. The little one works far better for me too.

  22. snowbird October 1, 2014 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    I do like the changes you have made to the terraces, it is looking good! I didn’t know that lily of the valley could be so invasive…..and here’s me thinking it’s just a pretty plant…good luck with all the digging, struth, you do have some big projects going on, rather you than me. Here’s to your witch hazel

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      The really big projects are yet to come… I am trying to ignore those! Thanks snowbird.

  23. SeagullSuzie October 1, 2014 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Oh there is so much to do in your garden, and it’s so beautiful. At least I can look at yours and think about what I would have been doing if I had a garden of my own….but if the house we are hoping to buy goes ahead, the back garden is fully terraced so I’ll be checking out what you do and what happens.

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      Terraces can be a great feature if you can get them to work, not sure I’m quite there yet. It takes a bit of trial and error, and moving things around. But you might have a far better eye than me. It would help if plants read their own labels and stuck to the guideline height!!

  24. Layanee DeMerchant October 1, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Oh, you just reminded me that there is a spading fork still in the garden! I hope that little Diane thrives in its new home and the terraces, well, they look marvelous.

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      Get thee out there and retrieve it before it gets dark! Diane has got one of the prime garden spaces, I just hope the nibbling deer has not done it too much harm. It left me one nut.. I removed it in case it came back and decided to have another go. Thanks Layanee.

  25. Amy at love made my home October 1, 2014 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    The changes from August to September are great and due in no small part to all your hard work. It has been so lovely seeing the terraces from month to month! xx

    • Jessica October 1, 2014 at 10:49 pm - Reply

      It’s a bit sad to think that from now on they will start to decline. But the good thing about gardening is that all the hard graft will result in something better when it comes back next year. At least… that’s how it’s supposed to work! Thanks Amy.

  26. Denise October 1, 2014 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica – how I feel so underwhelmed by my little efforts in our mammoth garden. I do not know the latin names or when they will colour. I really envy your knowledge, application and time.

    • Jessica October 2, 2014 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Denise, don’t worry about the latin names. You are doing a great job and you’ll just pick up a bit more knowledge every year as you go along. That’s what happened to me!

  27. Christina October 2, 2014 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Everything is looking full and very colourful, you must be very pleased with all the work you’ve done. Good job with the conifer, not a good plant to have near the house.

    • Jessica October 2, 2014 at 10:04 am - Reply

      I wouldn’t mind betting its roots go under the house (no foundations). Time will tell whether it has caused damage.

  28. Donna@GardensEyeView October 2, 2014 at 8:57 am - Reply

    I love the look of the walls especially how you have creatively placed many plants on top of the wall beds and in the crevices. I also love witch hazel and have a native one now finally growing about 3 feet after it started at a foot a few years ago. I also grows near the house…a perfect plant for that spot.

    • Jessica October 2, 2014 at 10:07 am - Reply

      It’s quite dry where I’ve planted it, although it does have irrigation and drips off the roof. Hopefully it will be very slow growing so I can keep it there and appreciate it in winter. So much of this garden is out of bounds in the winter wet.

  29. Mr Paul October 2, 2014 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Gorgeous array of Autumn colour Jessica. We love Asters too., nothing beats them for extending the season.

    • Jessica October 2, 2014 at 10:10 am - Reply

      So far I have just the one I inherited, although split and distributed far and wide! I can see the beginning of a collection.

  30. CJ October 2, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Always onwards. The witch hazel was a brilliant find, I do love a bargain that can be salvaged like that. They are such unusual plants, I really like them. Good luck with the digging over of the top level, it sounds like hard work. Speaking of which, it’s off to the allotment for me, to do some weeding. CJ xx

    • Jessica October 2, 2014 at 10:12 am - Reply

      The top level is even harder work than it looks, because first I need to clear space on the face of the bank for the plants I divide. So, I’d better get on with it too.. hope you had a productive day at the allotment.

  31. Sue@GLAllotments October 2, 2014 at 11:04 am - Reply

    The terrace looks beautiful. Strangely I can;t get lily of the valley to grow on our garden and I love the flowers My mum always used to pick a posy for me for my birthday so they remind me of her.

    • Jessica October 2, 2014 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      It’s a beautiful plant Sue and a lovely memory. Have you tried it in pots? It’s odd that some can grow it to excess and some not at all. Perhaps it’s the soil.

      • Sue Garrett October 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm - Reply

        Yes I’ve tried pots and just get leaves

        • Jessica October 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm - Reply

          That may scupper my plan too, to grow them in pots sunk into the soil. They may need a free root run to bloom. Why is gardening so very hard?

  32. angiesgardendiaries October 2, 2014 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    I wonder if it’s you or I who move most plants in the one month. If we were to have a competition, it would be a close run thing Jessica 🙂
    Immediately, I noticed the Hakeonechloa missing from the middle tier and then the Azalea and conifer before I began reading. It makes quite an obvious difference, a good one I should add.
    That combo at the far end is just gorgeous – like my bed, the Sedum and Persicaria really do well together and I think are a match made in garden heaven.
    Lily of the Valley…grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! I’m considering resorting to weedkiller next year!

    • Jessica October 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      I do far too much moving around if I’m honest, poor things are just stretching their roots out into the soil and they’re off again. Next year I WILL leave the terraces alone and see how they mature.
      Noooo, not the weedkiller!!

  33. Cathy October 2, 2014 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    A hive of activity for you too, Jessica! You will be pleased to know that two of my witch hazels have got sticking plasters on as well as splints! And you may think that top terrace is uninspiring but at least it LOOKS very neat and tidy!

    • Jessica October 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      I did that too, with a broken branch. Every one is precious. Which reminds me I must go and check it…

  34. Jeneane October 8, 2014 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Gee, you really have worked wonders since you took the place on. Well done!

    • Jessica October 8, 2014 at 7:58 pm - Reply

      Hi Jeneane & thanks.
      In places, yes. If only the bits I’ve done would stay done, so I can move on to the rest!

  35. Linda@arichtapestry October 27, 2014 at 8:22 am - Reply

    The terraced area is looking good this season! I can understand re. the conifer. Drastic action was taken on our Italian ‘Christmas tree’, a larch-type, I think. We needed the local woodman/logger expert to fell it, which I’ll be sharing soon on my blog. I’ve plans to overhaul all the ornamental
    trees next year and get back to a natural look since the house is never going have formal garden areas that would be difficult to maintain.

    • Jessica October 27, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

      That sounds like a sensible approach for the future Linda. The easier to maintain the better, otherwise you become a slave to it… like me!
      Trees can get too large so quickly, there is loads of work for a tree expert around here too.

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