Fork. Secateurs. Crampons?


The Precipitous Bank


I never promised you a rose garden.. ♫ ♫

But I did suggest that for this year’s End of Month View I might give myself something more of a challenge.


You’ve seen the Precipitous Bank featured before on the blog, but not recently. That’s because, frankly, it’s a mess. Last year my focus was elsewhere and it shows. Working on the slope is hard. It averages out at a angle of about 45 degrees. There are flatter bits and there are near vertical sheer drops. It’s this slope that the previous owner covered with chicken wire. And to add to the misery the soil here is clay. Slippery in the wet. Difficult to work at any time, even on flat ground.

It’s not an ideal location to potter away an odd half an hour between the ironing and that excellent new programme on the telly. Apart from the difficulty of clambering up (or down) to the particular spot in need of the work, so much of the time would be spent preparing, in the gathering together of all of the necessary tools. The normal gardening kit of course, plus wire cutters, the multiplicity of elements that comprise the drip feed irrigation system (hand watering would be impossibly onerous here) and a receptacle for weeds that will sit comfortably on the slope and not tumble headlong to the bottom as soon as it gets half full. It’s like getting ready for an assault on Everest. After all, would you really want to scramble back up to the top of the border, hike down the drive and all the way round the house to the shed to get the ball of string that for some inexplicable reason got left behind?


The bank 3 Wm


This was the view a couple of years ago, lush in the Devon rain, with a conveniently placed blogger to give a better impression of scale. I’d cleared it out partially since then but weeds have once again taken over and filled in the gaps. It needs more colour and greater interest in both texture and form. New planting should achieve this and reduce the amount of bare earth where weeds can grow.

This year, with Helen’s useful meme providing the all important incentive, I will crack it.


The bank 008 Wm[3]


The Precipitous Bank is seen from both sides. This is the view from the drive, which cuts diagonally across the face of the hillside. If anything, it looks even steeper from here.

It’s one of the few places in the garden that gets full sun and where I can successfully grow perennials. Not ideal for low maintenance I know, but I will select those that as far as possible look after themselves and which I can combine successfully with lower growing flowering shrubs. The challenge, as with the terraces, will be in achieving the correct balance of relative plant heights. Except that here I haven’t got the benefit of stone walls to provide natural breaks.

The first job, as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer and the soil less soggy, will be to cut back the dead stems from last summer and restore a bit of order. At the bottom of the slope, in the turning circle, Mike intends to complete relocation of ‘The Heap’. Autumn rain put the kibosh on that. It’s a heap of solid clay. Once that is done we’ll cut back the semi-circular hedge to about a third of its current height. There’s a tiny glimpse of the river from here.. just above the left side of the mound of earth. The hedge trimming should bring it fully into view.


So there we have it. The project for this year. Simples.

Wish me luck?


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.


2018-08-11T21:38:07+00:00January 31st, 2015|Tags: |


  1. Pauline January 31, 2015 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Your slope is like our last garden in the North West, we were so glad that this one is almost on the level ! It will be interesting to see what you plant, the slopes that we have here are all north facing and in the shade. You certainly have got a huge job to tackle…you didn’t mention absailing like they do at St Michael’s Mount!

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      It may yet come to that Pauline. Certainly mountaineering. In the vertical bits I am gradually wearing footholds into the side of the bank. Trouble is I’m also using the chicken wire as a hand hold. I’ll lose that when I remove it.

  2. CJ January 31, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

    A Big Job indeed, I’m wishing you luck and lots of clement weather. But it’s a very pretty place, I’m sure it will look lovely however much time it has or doesn’t have. CJ xx

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      It’s a huge job. Maybe it won’t all get done in a year, I’m thinking about the weather too, but at least I’ll have made a start. Thanks CJ.

  3. Sigrun January 31, 2015 at 10:24 am - Reply

    I wish you luck for every job in your garden, it is so big and beautiful, such a potential! My garden is under snow and water, in March I hope to work in it.


    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      I won’t be doing much for the next few weeks either, perhaps just cutting back some of the dead stems. It’s usually March at least before the soil dries out enough. It isn’t much fun on the bank when it’s wet.. very slippery.

  4. islandthreads January 31, 2015 at 10:24 am - Reply

    wow Jessica it is steep the photo from the drive scares me, in the first photo you look like you are in some dense tropical jungle, love all the ferns, I imagine a previous owner put the chicken wire down to help hold soil and plants in place (I know some gardeners recommend it to stop plants being dug up by both 2 and 4 legged thieves), would it be possible to ‘cut’ steps into the bank, there is a garden book in Stornoway library with a photo of a steep bank covered with low growing thymes it looks beautiful, I think you need low maintenance perennials, good luck, Frances

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 6:52 pm - Reply

      I’ve thought about steps or shallow terraces many times. There is the huge height difference between top and bottom but not much horizontal width meaning that the vertical faces will be many and deep. The other issue is tree roots as this area was densely planted with enormous conifers when we moved in, easily twice the height of the house. It was our first job to remove them. Stump grinding was not recommended because of the likely destruction of the bank so the roots are all still in the ground. It reduces what I can do in terms of landscaping. It is hard enough to find planting pockets of sufficient size.

      • islandthreads January 31, 2015 at 7:33 pm - Reply

        the conifers as large trees sound like a nightmare, low growing conifers I could understand, sorry for being nosey but were the conifers planted through the wire, they are probably right about leaving the roots, with wire and roots the steepness isn’t the only difficulty, it sounds much worse than my moss and grass, they are deep and hellish to keep out but at least they are soft, well at the moment wet and soggy, I like the idea of a rope from the top for security even if it was just tied to the weed bucket to stop it tipping, I was not thinking of cutting complete horizontals but a zigzag of cut in steps such as those sometimes cut (chipped) into steep sides to walk up hills and mountains, then you would have a safer way to climb and you could do some of the work from a small flat step, I’m starting to ramble, ignore me, Frances

        • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:59 pm - Reply

          Frances, I would never ignore you, you are far too wise! It’s a good idea to create small steps. I’ve sort of made footholds but they need to be larger as I am still at risk of falling off. To see the conifers click (here). The wire starts where the conifers left off, over the steeper areas to the right side of the first picture.

  5. Em January 31, 2015 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Personally, I would rig up some kind of abseiling sling that you sit in whose ropes are attached to a tree above. You could then put your weight into that rather than your feet which will inevitably result in a Jack and Jill situation I fear. x

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      It sounds rather good fun though!

  6. Christina January 31, 2015 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Slopes are so difficult to work but are actually wonderful to look at because you can see one plant behind another. Don’t be afraid of the odd taller plant as long as you can see behind it from some angles you’ll find it adds interest to the scene. I’ve planted my slope (which isn’t as large as yours I don’t think but is about as steep in places) with plants that will take care of themselves. I chose drought tolerant plants because even with irrigation the water will run to the bottom, although your clay will hold onto the water for some time. Perennials like Hemerocallis will do well as they survive in drought and don’t mind some wet. I will enjoy seeing your progress. Do take care though because as you say working on a steep slope can be dangerous but also very tiring because you are always straining to keep your balance.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      There are a couple of cornus trees on the slope which add extra height, some V bonariensis and a miscanthus which I put up there last year. It’s further complicated by the fact that the top of the bank is seen (just) from the upstairs rooms, so I need to give them a view too. I’d agree about it being tiring, extremely so. And very hard on the calf muscles which I always seem to use as a brace.

  7. Anny January 31, 2015 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    I’m going to be watching this one with interest – we have a very much smaller, but similarly angled slope in our suburban patch, which in 16 years, I’ve never managed to work properly. Good luck!

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      It isn’t straightforward is it. I can’t clear it out completely either, so have to work with some things.. like a couple of berberis bushes which would bring the whole bank crumbling down if I tried to get them out.

  8. Jane and Lance Hattatt January 31, 2015 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Hello Jessica:

    Rather than luck, we should wish you first an army, but one trained in horticulture, to camp out with you for at least a month, or more! What you show here is, we feel, rather more than a challenge for not only have you a very difficult sloping site, but one which is on heavy clay and, if we understand correctly, in full sun too [thus drying out and becoming even more difficult to work]. Furthermore, we do know from our own gardening days the annoyance of starting a job only to find that some essential piece of equipment has been left in the potting shed.

    You may of course be aware of this, but there is nothing like ash, from the bonfire or house fires for breaking up heavy clay. It worked wonders on our stubborn Herefordshire soil, a tip passed on to us by Pam and Sybil [who gardened at Sissinghurst] and who were friends].

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      I read an article recently about Pam and Sybil. Didn’t they stay together and create a new garden after they left Sissinghurst? I hope it worked out for them. Thank you, and to P & S, for the tip. I’ve used the ash from Mike’s frequent bonfires on the veg garden for potassium, but didn’t know about the benefit on clay. I will try it!

      • Jane and Lance Hattatt February 3, 2015 at 3:28 pm - Reply

        Yes, indeed. P & S created a garden around the house to which they retired in Gloucestershire. They always used exceptional plants!!

        • Jessica February 3, 2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

          Raised by their own fair hands from exceptional stock!

  9. wherefivevalleysmeet January 31, 2015 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Why don’t you create your own ‘Piet Oudolf’ perennial slop or may be a tapestry of heathers. Whatever you decide to do Jessica, I know that you will make it look wonderful.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      I do like grasses and as you see there are some up on the bank already. It will be slanted more towards perennials with some grasses to break it up rather than the other way round, just because I want more colour up there. Apart from the terraces it’s the only place in the garden I can hope to grow flowering plants, at the moment anyway.

  10. Marian St.Clair January 31, 2015 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Oh, this is going to be a fun year of posts. Brings to mind an episode of Glorious Gardens from Above, which I found on YouTube, where Christine Walkden is gardening off the side of a cliff in a mountain climber’s harness.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      He He. Christine is always up for a challenge! It will certainly give me plenty of scope this year, I’ve been wanting to get the bank sorted out for a long time and the meme will provide me with the incentive. It will also make me think more carefully about what I need to plant for the right effect. Up to now it’s been a dumping ground for anything that was too large to stay in the terraces.

  11. Sue@GLAllotments January 31, 2015 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Wow you really do have your work cut out don’t you? That second photo does put the scale of the task into perspective,

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      It scares me that photo. Almost as much as the third one does.

  12. justjilluk January 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    I have faith in you. And fingers crossed for your safety.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      I hope I can live up to it Jill. It’s a bit scary up there, especially near the edge. It’s not far from this spot Mike fell off and spent three months nursing cracked or broken ribs.

  13. Chloris January 31, 2015 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    And what about ropes? Surely ropes should be involved. It is a daunting task but at the same time, an exciting challenge. I agree with Christina, slopes look wonderful when they are well planted. Good luck, I shall enjoy watching your progress.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      It will be even more difficult a task with my hands tied behind my back. Or were you thinking of some other form of bondage? 😉
      I have a vision in my head of a cascading sea of colour but we all know how difficult that is to pull off. But, I can only make a start.

  14. Cumbrian January 31, 2015 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    That bare derelict look if the garden in winter, looks like you’ve got your work cut out there.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Indeed. At least at this time of year things can only get better?

  15. bumbleandme January 31, 2015 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Good luck! We have a similar precipitous slope, so I’ll be watching your progress with interest! Looking forward to seeing the results.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Hannah and welcome to rusty duck.
      I’m looking forward to seeing the results too. Not supremely confident I have to say..

  16. Mise January 31, 2015 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    There is a touch of Pilgrim’s Progress about the Precipitous Bank. I wish it well, and have no doubt that it will be a credit to you.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Thanks Mise.

  17. Alison January 31, 2015 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Good luck! My garden is completely flat, so none of your slope challenges. When we were looking for a house, I did consider one with a sloping back yard, wondering if I would be up to the challenge. It does make for a visually interesting space, but ultimately I decided that climbing is not in the cards for me. I did chuckle at your blog post title.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      That is the reward at the end of it all, it has great design possibilities. I just wish someone else was doing the work!

  18. Jo January 31, 2015 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I think you’ve got your work cut out for you there, but there’s one thing, there’ll be definite differences in your end of month view posts. Why did the previous owners cover the area in chicken wire?

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      I believe it was to try and stabilise the slope. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that well especially in the areas where the bank is very steep. My theory (as yet unproven) is that by planting things with strong root systems I can do a better job of binding the soil and have it looking so much nicer too.

  19. christina January 31, 2015 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Dear Jessica, if that is not a gardening challenge, then I don’t know what is! That slope looks sooo… steep on the third photo. I am sure you will get a lot of exercise this year ;-). It may not be exactly what you would like to hear, but I have to say I love the wild lush appearance of slope on the second photo. If it is already beautiful without you having worked on it, it only will get more gorgeous when you turn your heart to it. I certainly wish you luck with this project!
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      It is extremely good for exercise! I sleep very well too when I’ve had a day up there in the summer. It will stay lush, but with more colour. Apart from the foxgloves, which have self seeded, there was very little in bloom in the second photo. I want to keep the soft colours but make it all a bit more interesting. Thanks Christina.

  20. Backlane Notebook January 31, 2015 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Yikes-that’s a steep slope-take care. Some suggestions for ground cover plants that spread and look good all year round are Euphorbia robbiae and Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingerams Variety’ which has scented leaves.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      I love the sound of the geranium. There is a perfect place near the path which means I can brush past the leaves. Thanks for the tip!

  21. Julie January 31, 2015 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    A couple of years ago I looked after a sloped garden and used a combination of well placed rocks to gain a foothold and stakes in the ground to anchor myself with and hang tools ect, footwear was all important and the soles had to be very ridged. The worst was worrying about the damage I did if I dislodged pockets of soil. We grew lots of perennials and anchored the soil with grasses and smaller tough shrubs like hypericum. Slopes can be hard work but what a view you will have. Plus you’ll have amazing glutes!!

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      There are some rocks and I do use these where I can. Whenever I’m working on the face of the bank a lot of soil ends up on the path, I just push it back in as best I can. If I can create mats of low growing dense foliage I hope I can avoid these areas altogether. No pictures of glutes… !! 😉

  22. mossfighter January 31, 2015 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    Good luck, that’s a hard one to crack. Your ideas for it sound good and the slope does lend itself to the plants being well displayed.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      If it works it will look smashing. If..

  23. Mark and Gaz January 31, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Big project but I’m sure it’ll be fabulous in no time at all 😉

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks. I wish I had your faith! It can only look better though, can’t it?

  24. snowbird January 31, 2015 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    I loved that pic of you amongst the ferns and greenery! Goodness me….what an immense project to take on, I would have been up for that when I was younger, I don’t think I could handle it now!!! I wish you all the luck in the world with it….and maybe an army of helpers!xxx

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      Perhaps I should have a bloggers party here.. everyone has to bring a spade!

  25. angiesgardendiaries January 31, 2015 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    I was exhausted just imagining working away on that slope Jessica. I don’t envy you but admire you greatly for taking on the challenge for your EOMV but as you said, it’s a great motivator. I just wouldn’t know where to start and I am so going to be looking forward to seeing what you achieve.
    All the best!!

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Angie, if I achieve half of what you did last year I will be more than happy!

  26. Helen Johnstone January 31, 2015 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I love the image with you at the bottom of the slope. It shows the scale but I actually think the slope looks wonderful with those big ferns. I would recommend Keith Wileys new book on woodland gardening as he focuses on slopes.
    I’m glad you are joining in again this year

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      The ferns will be staying. They provide a nice transition between the more cultivated part of the garden and the woodland. It’s the greenery in between them that has to go.. it’s mostly weeds. Keith Wiley’s book is in my Amazon wish list already.

  27. sustainablemum January 31, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    You could do what climbers do in snow and cut ‘steps’ a slot which is big enough to hold your foot to just support it, part way along your arch. Provided you are always working above your waist and leaning slightly forward you will maintain your balance. I wouldn’t recommend using ropes I think they will be more of a hinderance than a help on that width of bank. I am sure with a few plants growing in the right places it will help to bind the soil together, weeding will always be entertaining!

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Steps are a good idea and in some places my feet have worn them in naturally. Once the chicken wire is off it will give me more possibilities. That in itself is going to be a real undertaking because the plants that are there already are growing through it. I’m tending to do it piecemeal, as I add new plants more of the wire gets cut away on the basis that the new rootball will expand and bind the soil.

  28. Jayne Hill January 31, 2015 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    You are a true enthusiast*/lunatic*/devotee* {*delete as appropriate}. I thought parts of our garden were a a tad difficult but we’ve got NOTHING to compare to the challenge you have set yourself. I can only genuflect and watch with awe :} Oh, and maybe recommend you make arrangements now with a trusted local remedial massage therapist for a discount on multiple treatments.

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      There’s nothing like a good insurance policy is there.

  29. Cathy January 31, 2015 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    And while the rest of us are pondering what we would do if it was OUR Precipitous Bank, it is YOURS to do something with – and we are saved that decision, and the hard work! It will be interesting to see how it progresses – and, courtesy of your blog posts, amusing too I am sure 🙂

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      I had hoped that by moving across the garden a bit I might escape my usual adversaries but, no, they are all still there. Mice, squirrels, pheasants, deer. All waiting in the wings, watching to see what I plant and deciding who will dig it up.
      Thanks Cathy.

  30. Jacqueline January 31, 2015 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness Jessica ………. that puts gardening on a completely different level !!!!! You must be so much fitter { and younger ! } than me. Good luck !!!! XXXX

    • Jessica January 31, 2015 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      Probably not much, on either count. Just foolhardy.

  31. Freda January 31, 2015 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    You may well have them, but Noel Kingsbury is very good on perennials and natural gardens and of course the inimitable Beth Chatto’s Green Tapestry. I’m sure it’s going to look fantastic Jessica!

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks Freda. I have Beth Chatto’s book on woodland gardening, but not that one.

  32. Linda January 31, 2015 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Continuing to transform the steep bank is a big task, but you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. It looks rather daunting with that vertical drop aspect, but I know you’ll take care after some nasty moments working there in the past. As with your other projects I’m looking forward to this year’s updates.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      I’ll be glad when I’ve got the worst of the brambles and other deep seated weeds out, they are hard to remove with the greatest risk of falling off the bank. Then it’s a case of keeping on top of the weeding so they don’t get established again.

  33. Charlie@Seattle Trekker February 1, 2015 at 1:26 am - Reply

    You have such an interesting opportunity, it will be fun to see what you make of it.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      I see in my head how I would like it to look, it’s the getting there that’s the problem.

  34. Linda February 1, 2015 at 3:52 am - Reply

    Yes, a big project but I think about how much more interesting a landscape is that is not flat. I’m sure you will think of ways to visually break up the space without walls: swaths of assorted plants. I am very excited to watch as you design and plan this. We get to suggest ideas and you do the work!

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Yes, I’d agree. Having some contours in the land does make for interesting design. It’s the almost vertical bits that are the most challenging..
      Any ideas gratefully accepted Linda!

  35. Dorothy @ The Nature of Things February 1, 2015 at 4:08 am - Reply

    Actually, I like the looks of your Precipitous Bank – the wildness of it. I can see that it has great potential, but I hope you’ll find a way to achieve the look you want while maintaining its essential character.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      I want it to continue looking natural. A rose garden won’t fit the bill. It’s a sort of transition area between the formal garden such as it is and the wild woodland.

  36. AnnetteM February 1, 2015 at 8:19 am - Reply

    When I saw the first photo I though it looked quite manageable, but then I saw the second and especially the third. You really have a job with that slope, but so long as you get some decent weather I am sure you will be up for the task. What will you do when it is all done – move? I have never known anyone that thrives on challenges as much as you two seem to. Really looking forward to watching your progress and seeing which plants you choose. it will look amazing by the summer I am sure.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 8:54 pm - Reply

      It’s an all year project I think, given how many other plates are spinning at the moment. If it ever gets done, big if, then yes, move! By that time I’ll be needing something a bit smaller and on one level I fear.

  37. Donna@GardensEyeView February 1, 2015 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Jessica that will be quite a project and I think I will be happy with my little bog as compared to your slope. My last garden before we moved here had several slopes in shade. I ended up building in walls for planting beds with paths throughout. But I like the wildness of your slope. The flowers, ferns shrubs and grass. A sunny meadow would look pretty here too. I look forward to seeing your ideas here….I love the view from both sides.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      It’s the view from the top that challenges me most.. planting up the bare earth will inevitably block the view down the slope that I have at the moment. It’s why I feel that getting the relative height of the plants right is the most important thing. I thought about a meadow, it may well feature in the area above the drive, between it and the far trees. It isn’t quite so steep there so a little more accessible for cutting back etc.

  38. Vera February 1, 2015 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Crikey, but your photos remind me of the garden we had in High Wycombe before we came here, which went straight up from the back door, was three terraces steep, and ended up in a woodland the trees of which stood many feet taller than the house itself. We are so glad that now we can garden on the flat! I so know how hard it is for you to get that slope of yours into shape, but I know that you can do it because you never give up!

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Vera I think my tenacity pales into insignificance when compared with your good self. I would have stomped out of there in a hissy fit long before now. I think I’d have probably come back though..

  39. elaine February 1, 2015 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Your garden provides so many challenges and your next one will be a doozy. Although I love the lushness of it when full of foliage and wonder why you would want to change it.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      I want it to be more like your garden Elaine, lots of colour and with a tumbling, wild, natural look.

  40. Linda aka Crafty Gardener February 1, 2015 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    That will be an amazing challenge project for you. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda. Definitely a challenge. One that will probably take more than a year to get right. But I can make a start.

  41. Kris P February 1, 2015 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    I’ll be watching your progress with great anticipation Jessica. I have a similar slope at the back of our property (fortunately a location that the casual visitor doesn’t usually see). It’s steep with clay soil but, unlike yours, doesn’t get full sun (although there is more now that our Yucca elephantipes came out). The upper portion has huge weeds, buried among ivy and honeysuckle, which I haven’t figured out how to reach without breaking my neck – actually crampons may be a very good idea..If I had an extra $100k (i.e. if I someday win the lottery), I’d have it terraced. Meanwhile, I chip away here and there so I’ll look to you for ideas.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      The worst area of the bank is directly behind the house where it is dead vertical and in deep shade. I need to tackle it at some point because the upper windows on that side look straight out on to it. And all that grows there currently is brambles and nettles! Terracing is a good solution and there are places here that would benefit from it too. There’s the huge cost and the problem of how to get the earth moving machinery down here in the first place!

  42. Helene February 1, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Gulp, that’s a momentous task, I don’t envy you that slope! I wish you all the luck you need, but seeing everything else you do, I am sure you will crack this one too 🙂

  43. Sol February 1, 2015 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    I love all the ferns, what about more of them? and some giant rhubarbs. I saw a very exotic garden on the TV programme ‘show us your garden’ it was in Ireland. For a small suburban plot he had made an oasis of beauty. lovely

  44. Anna February 1, 2015 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Oh rather you than me Jessica – I’m going dizzy just looking! On the plus side I suppose clambering up and down there is cheaper than gym membership. Good luck my friend.

    • Jessica February 1, 2015 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      It is a lot cheaper! I keep meaning to get one of those pedometer thingys to see how far I actually do travel in a day. Shame it doesn’t give extra points for vertical distance.
      p.s. I haven’t forgotten, will email you re snowdrops 🙂

  45. Amy at love made my home February 2, 2015 at 9:59 am - Reply

    My goodness, you could open a mountaineering school there I reckon! Or gardening for mountaineers!! Such a lot of work for you, but incredibly beautiful too! xx

    • Jessica February 2, 2015 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      If only we didn’t get so much rain it would be a good place to grow alpines.

  46. woolythymes February 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    and to think my gardening challenge is to keep a few weeds out of the tomatoes!!! Can you send me some of this gardening determination/enthusiasm??? (sending along a whole lot of education would also help!!!! actually, you do that in every post…..!!!!! thanks! and good luck!!!!)

    • Jessica February 2, 2015 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Enthusiasm is sadly lacking at the moment, it’s too bloomin’ cold. Hopefully it will return when the weather gets a bit warmer!

  47. countrysidetales February 2, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    You are a brave woman, Jess and I salute you. Good luck!

    • Jessica February 2, 2015 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Brave or stupid?

  48. Sarah February 2, 2015 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    That bank looks so steep,I always almost knock myself off balance when I am trying to pull out bramble roots! Will enjoy seeing the progress you make. Sarah x

    • Jessica February 3, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

      There are some bramble roots I’ve just given up with. Think I may have to compromise my principles and go for a chemical kill. Either that or constantly cut them down to ground level and hope they surrender.

  49. Laura February 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Grasses and sage, cistena cherry, and daisies. Maybe some Turkestan burning bush and spurge. Your bank inspires me…I’d add a few boulders, too, and lots of coreopsis.

    • Jessica February 3, 2015 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Great suggestions thank you Laura. I had to look up Turkestan burning bush, it’s a beauty but I will have to hunt it down here methinks.

  50. CherryPie February 2, 2015 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    Good Luck 🙂 That looks like a very daunting task to me…

    • Jessica February 3, 2015 at 10:07 am - Reply

      It is Cherie. Good exercise though, it’s got that going for it.

  51. paxton3 February 3, 2015 at 4:15 am - Reply

    Good grief that’s quite a challenge. You put my fear of plot number 10 to shame. The photo with blogger shows a rather wonderful precipitous bank. I love the lushness of it. Perhaps a pulley system a la Swiss Family Robinson would help with planting and maintenance? ;))
    Leanne xx

    • Jessica February 3, 2015 at 10:11 am - Reply

      Gosh, it’s many years since I read that book!
      I’m sure the lushness will come back, I hope it will. Maybe not this year as the plants I put in will be smaller but it’s certainly a look I want to have again. Just with more colour and variety of texture.

  52. Amy February 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Best of luck, Jessica! I’ve gardened on clay, but thank Heaven it was flat! I can’t help visualizing swathes of flowering shrubs on that bank – something woody to hold onto and break a fall…

    • Jessica February 3, 2015 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Clay is the worst I think. A problem when it’s dry and a problem when it’s wet.

  53. Julieanne February 3, 2015 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    This is one serious project Jessica. Amazing site/aspect, but getting it right so that you don’t fall down whilst weeding will be hard, but rewarding work? Are you thinking about putting in some paths to break it up and make it easier to manage? Maybe some stone gambions as a retaining wall that you can grow alpine through part way up? Sorry, I’m running away with the excitement of what I would do with such a space!

    I wish you lots of luck – I’m really going to look forward to the monthly updates to see how it is going.

    • Jessica February 3, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      I’ve thought about paths. Originally I was going to have a proper path through it, but the slope is quite narrow front to back, as well as being steep. So I think I’ll put in just a maintenance path that won’t actually be seen. Just enough room for me to get between the plants.

  54. John February 5, 2015 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    I can’t help but wonder if it would be more straightforward to leave the chicken wire except where you are putting in plants. We did something like that with weed fabric. Put it down over the weeds and then covered with mulch and cut holes where we put plants. It worked out really well. I think the project only looks daunting if you imagine that you have to do it all at once. Just take a section at a time…

    • Jessica February 5, 2015 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      It causes huge problems for weeding John, especially when the root balls get bigger than the holes! I’ve thought about weed control fabric but the slope is just too steep. I shall tackle it slowly over the spring and summer, clear it again and then plant up each section in drifts both for stronger colour and to provide some competition to the weeds.

  55. hb February 7, 2015 at 7:01 am - Reply

    Your Precipitous example makes my three long, steep slopes trivial by comparison. Thanks you!

    I know what you mean about the container for weeds rolling down the slope. It happened to me today. What can one do but utter some bad words and go and get it? Weed control fabric–the weeds simply grow on top of the fabric. I know that from experience, unfortunately. At least the drainage is good, right?

    • Jessica February 7, 2015 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      The drainage is as good as it’s ever going to get on clay in a soggy climate. Rainwater seeps through the soil and runs out the bottom of the bank into a french drain which then channels it away.

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