Breakthrough… Again!

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Cast your minds back to April, shortly after the rhododendrons received their ‘renovation’ prune.

We’ve had to wait a few weeks for the tree surgeons to come in and finish off the job and in the meantime of course the leaves have filled out, closing the view right back down.


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Moving the ducks to a place of safety all I could hear were shouts of “Whoa, WHOA!!!!” as the guys negotiated the drive with their land rover and trailer. The notorious hairpin bend has claimed its fair share of victims (here) but the tree surgeons made it through unscathed.


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Work gets underway


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Harnessing up after lunch

With the foliage gone the quality of the light in the kitchen had already changed for the better.


There was, in certain quarters, a severe case of chainsaw envy. Will you look at the length of that blade (above). Until Himself tried to lift the machine off the grass… when perhaps his saw, at half the size, would maybe do after all. Boys, huh.


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Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’, with more buds this year than ever before, was looking a tad vulnerable

Every tree branch was having to be dragged up through the garden to the chipper. But with Mike’s hastily conceived MDF construction my plant lost not a single leaf.


“Thanks…” One of the chaps passed the open door of my refuge in the greenhouse.


“For living on such a sloping site!”


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At last. Seeing the wood for the trees..

It was a much tougher job than they’d expected, not least getting the largest of the tree trunks down to a reasonable level, even with the benefit of their extra long saw.  The stump that remains is over four feet across.


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Contemplating the work ahead.. a passing blogger provides scale.


The tree fellas are not done yet either. We’ve booked them to come back for another three days.. and that’s just for one more tree. It’s huge. They were thinking about a crane, but given the impossibility of getting such a thing down here in the first place it now looks as if they’ll be using a zip line.. the mind boggles. And you’ll see it here first.




A rather tenuous link, perhaps, to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day this month. But it is the setting of our gardens that acts as the all important frame to the picture that we create within. And for many of us it’s the foliage of trees which provides at least part of that frame, even if it might be from distant trees that can be ‘borrowed’ for the sake of the scene that we wish to paint.

Join Christina at her Garden of the Hesperides (here) who is planning dramatic changes of her own.




The ducks, meanwhile, have returned to survey their new surroundings.


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2017-10-24T19:32:47+00:00May 22nd, 2015|Tags: , |


  1. Christina May 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Dear Jessica, wow, that was a major job! It is amazing how much removing the trees opened up your view. Even on the photos it looks like more light is able to enter this part of your property. I am curious to follow what you will do with this part of your garden.
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      The light is much improved, the trees had grown so much virtually all of the lawn was in shade. The grass was getting boggy, even in summer, and is now more moss than anything else!

  2. Helen Johnstone May 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Oh the ducks look a little exposed – I fear for them.
    Is the land down the slope yours? How exciting if it is. I love watching the tree surgeons work, its like an aerial ballet and there is always so much more light when they have finished.

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      The flat part of land below where the trees were is ours. You can just about make out the river, it’s very low at the moment but forms a black shadow curving around that flat bit. It marks the boundary.

  3. Christina May 22, 2015 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Your huge job of removing the trees is far more major than my removal of the box plus all the rest later on. Will you keep that area as vegetable garden now the light can get in or do you have other plans? Thanks for joining GBFD this month, I think the foliage of those trees definitely counts!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      It’s very boggy so not really suitable for vegetables. Eventually I want to put a collection of moisture loving plants down there, there’s room for a gunnera (or several!) and irises plus candelabra primulas would look good along the river bank. But it does need to fit within the woodland setting so nothing too formal. Perhaps some architectural ferns?

  4. Cheryl West May 22, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    What a change for you and so much more light. It is a constant job to keep from being overgrown. A zip line next? Is there a new adventure business in your future? The soft spring greens in your view are so beautiful.

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      An adventure business… now there’s a thought. Perhaps I could sell an extreme gardening experience too and get the Precipitous Bank done for me at the same time 🙂

  5. Pauline May 22, 2015 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    That certainly was a huge job, far more than we have had to do on any of our trees. The difference in the light is amazing and now you have wonderful new planting opportunities! I will watch with interest to see what you plant in your new area!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      This is the start of the bog garden Pauline, I’ve been envious of yours far too long!

  6. countrysidetales May 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Goodness that makes quite a difference with the light doesn’t it? The foliage does look very thick!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      It’s not something we’ve done lightly and one of the trees was probably unsafe in any case.. it was dropping dead branches just a few feet from the greenhouse, once when I was in it! The previous owner had a go at lopping them but all that did was make the branches grow outwards. So I don’t think we had a lot of choice really.

  7. Sol May 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    tree surgeons are fearless arent they! what a change

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:47 pm - Reply

      There was a lot of swinging between branches. He was using a harness though, so reasonably safe!

  8. annincumbria May 22, 2015 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica how exciting for you, I was thinking about your precipitous garden on Thursday when I visited Bodnant gardens

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      That’s somewhere I’ve never been. I’ve seen pictures of it though and it looks glorious. One day we’ll make it up that way!

  9. homeslip May 22, 2015 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Wow, tree surgeons are fearless aren’t they. But what a difference the work has made.You are really on a mission now, I can’t wait for the next instalment.

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      It was quite exciting watching the view slowly unfold, although the low hedge that we had discovered around the lawn is no more. No matter, there is plenty of Lonicera elsewhere in the garden. I’m sure we’ll find enough to dig up and relocate or failing that, cuttings.

  10. Angie May 22, 2015 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    I wonder are you going about wearing shades in the kitchen now Jessica 🙂
    What a massive difference and you can see now why it’s always best to get in the professionals. I smiled at the thought of Mike eyeing up that chainsaw – it’s the kind of thing I’d do too. Happy to see the ducks back where they belong – you do wonder what goes through their mind 😉

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      If Mike got a chainsaw like that I’d fear for every tree for miles around. He’d have to build up a bit of muscle first though!

  11. Brian Skeys May 22, 2015 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    You and the ducks certainly live on the edge down there Jessica!
    Damage to ‘Bowl of Beauty’ would NOT have been a price worth paying, well done Mike and the MDF.

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      The Bowl of Beauty survives to tell the tale. It was rather vulnerable, right on the corner where the branches were being dragged from the lawn on to the path. I’m sure the tree chaps were relieved it had a bit of protection too.

  12. Backlane Notebook May 22, 2015 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    Awesome and did you get to keep some logs and do you have a wood burner?

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      We’ve kept all the logs and the bark chippings. The next job on the list is to rebuild the chimney and make it safe, so I’m hoping by winter we’ll have an open fire. There’s already plenty of seasoned wood around the place to burn.

  13. Mark and Gaz May 22, 2015 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Zip line, now that we’re looking forward to seeing pics of! Makes being a tree surgeon sound very exciting 🙂 lovely backdrop btw!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      I’ll be interested to see how the zip line thing is going to work as at the moment I have no idea! I can feel an iPad video coming on though..

  14. Rosemary May 22, 2015 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    The rusty ducks looked startled – I think that you have been very wise to remove the trees, your view is much more expansive now. Some zip-line photos will be interesting to see – do you think that Mike will be eyeing that up too?

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      Rosemary, don’t give him ideas. It’s bad enough already 😉

  15. Denise May 22, 2015 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    I think the Ducks are saying, ‘Oooooooooooo!’ in a tone of wonderment and awe! As for the tree surgeons with extra (a hopefully free) sarcasm, well, they should be glad of the aerobic exercise. Ungrafeful so and sos!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      He had a twinkle in his eye so I’m quite sure he was joking. But it’s a challenging place to work, not being able to get the chipper anywhere near where it needed to be!

  16. Kris P May 22, 2015 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    It’s funny to think that removing trees helps you see the trees but, in your case, that’s really true. What a dramatic change!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      It’s a very dramatic change. I’m still getting used to it. We’ll never have the expansive views that you have but at least it doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic anymore!

  17. Amy at love made my home May 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    My goodness, that really is a massive change isn’t it! I hadn’t realised the scale of it all!!! We need more pictures with you or Mike in them for scale!!! Looks fantastic though, a really lovely view!!! xx

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      That picture has me quite scared. We were struggling to find a photo that showed the true scale of it so yesterday morning, just before I published the post I suggested I stand on the edge of the lawn and Mike take the photo. I think it did the trick. But I look so small, about to be swallowed up by the immensity of the task perhaps?

  18. Indie May 22, 2015 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Woah, that is a big job! We had some big oaks that had to be taken out at my last house. They used a crane and took the branches over the house, which was a very perilous looking job! The backyard view sure looks different now! Glad they didn’t damage your plants – I always worry about that when people who are doing work come and obviously care much less about my plants than I do!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Having work done in or around the house is always so stressful. Sadly the low hedge around the lawn suffered quite a bit but nothing else that I’ve found. When the big tree comes down that could be quite a different matter.

  19. Jayne Hill May 22, 2015 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Oh, well done! Isn’t it fun watching proper “tree monkeys” do their stuff, especially all the climbing and rope stuff :-} Tell Mike I agree totally with the ‘chainsaw envy’.

    Don’t think you will miss those trees one bit, and suspect you now have enough wood-burner fuel for multiple winters. Shall be interested to view the zip wire antics, but have to ask – are those conifers destined for the log store as well?

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      Not yet, not unless they fall down. I’m not a great fan of conifers but they actually form a neat line between a huge beech tree behind and the ornamental garden trees like the acer. Looks OK..

  20. SeagullSuzie May 22, 2015 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    I always think it’s hard to see change like this in the garden, but those trees really were up close and personal. It’ll be interesting to see what changes happen next and how you develop the garden….I look forward to it.

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      They were way too close. There is only a thin strip of lawn and it was permanently in shade. The first step will be to clear the ‘new’ piece of land. We’ve strimmed off all the brambles that are down there but it’s only a temporary solution.

  21. Amy May 22, 2015 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Nothing like getting a little more light in there! I’m sure you’ll have some plants much happier for the change – not to mention the humans… maybe even the ducks… 😉

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      I feel like I can breathe when I’m out in the garden now, there just seems to be so much more air. And, strangely, more birdsong. Perhaps they are just complaining..

  22. mattb325 May 22, 2015 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    What a massive job – taking out trees of that size is always scary as the hole they leave can be both exciting and daunting and the same time. I look forward to seeing what the next instalment for that part of the garden will be!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      It may have to wait a bit. The Precipitous Bank is occupying most of my time at the moment. But it’s great to have the feeling of space. The trouble is, now I can see that piece of land I’m starting to feel the pressure to do something about it. Out of sight really was out of mind.

  23. Natalie May 22, 2015 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    So green, so beautiful! Good work. Those chainsaws are darn heavy!
    And have a lovely weekend..

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      They are extremely heavy. Respect for the guys that carry them up trees and wield them about as if they were light as a feather!

  24. Sam Stanley May 23, 2015 at 12:37 am - Reply

    Wow. You only realise how big they were when you’re in the pic for scale. Great job!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      Those trees are huge. But only half the size of the next one that’s coming down…

  25. Virginia May 23, 2015 at 7:34 am - Reply

    What a change! The views and differing layers of foliage are most interesting aren’t they. And the Peony Protection Person did a Practical and Perfect job, did he not?? By the way, is Weaver ok? There’ve been no blogs for quite a few days, so I’m hoping she’s just on holiday, and not ill or anything horrid?

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      I dread to think what would have happened to the peony without it’s protective housing. The garden has escaped mercifully unscathed.
      I can’t give you any information re Weaver. I don’t know.

  26. Linda aka Crafty Gardener May 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Such a huge job but wow, it sure makes a difference to the area. I’m sure you are loving the extra light and the wonderful view. The ducks looks happy to be back in the garden.

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      It’s taking a bit of getting used to.. it’s so different. But in a nice way!

  27. woolythymes May 23, 2015 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    I have NO vision…..I would never have removed trees…..and I’m sure this is going to be spectacular when YOUR vision is complete. Can’t wait to see what’s next. It’s like a soap opera….you leave us wanting MORE!!!

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      If it was a soap opera I’d have either run off with a tree surgeon by now or sustained an horrific injury by falling off the edge of the lawn (or worse). Thankfully neither!

  28. Joanne May 23, 2015 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Goodness a huge job & the next one bigger still, zip wires – the mind boggles. Made a huge difference though for you x

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:51 pm - Reply

      The next job is the big one. It’s not just the height of the tree (over twice the size of the house), but the fact that a very expensive waste water treatment plant is located directly underneath..

  29. Julieanne May 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    It’s exciting getting such a major piece of work done in the garden. What a different in light it makes. Do you have plans for what you’ll be added in their place or are you just keeping the Rhodo’s and enjoying the light and view?

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      The plan is to relocate the rhodos and put a low hedge along the edge of the lawn, 12-18 ins high, then reseed the lawn up to the hedge. We’ll also open up more of the view on either side so the lawn will be a viewpoint over the lower level. If it works it should look good but, oh, what a lot of work!

  30. Sue@GLAllotments May 23, 2015 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    I wouldn’t have dared watch – bet they can’t wait to come back

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      I could tell they were looking forward to it..

  31. Donna@Gardens Eye View May 23, 2015 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Wow that is quite a change….and I can’t wait to hear how they use a zip line on the big tree….

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      You and me both.. !

  32. Rosie May 23, 2015 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Goodness, what a lot of hard work! I’m glad your peony was protected and that the rusty ducks are now safely back in their garden home:)

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      There are a few more places to put the ducks now. They might have to move around a bit until I find the right one!

  33. Jo May 23, 2015 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    What a big job but I bet you’ve got so much more light now. The ducks are seeing quite a change this year.

    • Jessica May 23, 2015 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      It feels really strange having so much more light and space. It can get so gloomy in the valley, opening it up will be a very good thing in the long run.

  34. Charlie@Seattle Trekker May 24, 2015 at 1:27 am - Reply

    That really improves the view and gives you so much more light…This should really change the disposition of the ducks.

    • Jessica May 25, 2015 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      A lot more light and a feeling of space which we certainly didn’t have before.

  35. bittster May 24, 2015 at 4:19 am - Reply

    Wow, you really are opening the place up! The lighting is so much nicer now and although the trees were a nice feature there’s much to be said against a garden with a claustrophobic feel to it… and I hate having trees looming over me!

    • Jessica May 25, 2015 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Sadly the trees were probably looking at their best just before they came down, with all the fresh green foliage. But one was unhealthy and it wouldn’t have been long before it started dropping branches again. I love being surrounded by trees but there does need to be a little distance, not least when they could hit the house if they fell.

  36. Anna May 24, 2015 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Oh job well done Jessica! Glad to read that you, Mike, ducks and peony all survived unscathed.

    • Jessica May 25, 2015 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      Considering the difficulty of the job on a sloping site we did OK. Thanks Anna.

  37. elaine May 24, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Vive la difference! Tree felling is a scary job at the best of times especially like in our garden which is an enclosed space – but it does make all the difference to views and aspect.

    • Jessica May 25, 2015 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      It does. I remember your experience from last year, very close to the greenhouse. It tests the nerves a bit doesn’t it!

  38. Annie Cholewa May 25, 2015 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    That blogger for scale shot … you really do have a lot of trees don’t you!

    I’m already looking forward to the zip line post 🙂

    • Jessica May 26, 2015 at 10:07 am - Reply

      There is a bit of borrowed landscape in there, but even so we shouldn’t need to buy firewood anytime soon.

  39. Sarah May 26, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Goodness you are tackling some big projects this year! It will make a difference in the garden with so much more light too! Glad the peony survived unscathed and the ducks are back in their rightful place. Sarah x

    • Jessica May 27, 2015 at 11:53 am - Reply

      There are 17 buds on the peony, only three last year. Worth protecting! Thanks Sarah.

  40. CherryPie May 27, 2015 at 12:08 am - Reply

    This post makes me feel a little sad… The Oak Tree that frames the back of my garden is due to have a severe haircut starting from tomorrow :-/

    • Jessica May 27, 2015 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Oh no. But I remember you saying that it had lost a branch. It will be safer for you and the garden if any further dodgy ones are removed. It does take a while to get used to the increase in sky, but you will enjoy the feeling of space and light.

  41. casa mariposa May 30, 2015 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Just think of all the new space you have to garden in! What are your plans for the stump?

    • Jessica May 31, 2015 at 11:19 am - Reply

      The Picnic Table On The Edge? No, seriously, it will apparently re-sprout which is a bit of a pain. I’m told the best thing is to drill a series of holes around the outer edge, about an inch in, and fill with Round Up. If the treatment is repeated a few times it should do the trick. I don’t really like using chemicals though. I’m thinking instead of peppering the upper surface with holes and then just leave them to fill with water. With a bit of luck it should encourage some natural rotting.

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