Breakthrough (#4)


The Drive Wm


In the beginning…


We first viewed this house in the middle of winter and acquired it a couple of months later, before the leaves had emerged on the trees. So while the rest of the northern hemisphere enjoyed the lengthening days and stronger light of spring and summer for us it grew darker and darker, as the tree canopy started to close in.

To the left of the drive in the photo above is the area we now know as the Precipitous Bank. The first job on arriving here was to have those conifers down. The surveyor insisted. Air circulation was so poor around the back of the house that the thatch roof was decaying much faster than it should. It didn’t do so much for a peaceful night’s sleep either, not with those trees thrashing around wildly at the merest hint of a breeze.


The Drive 002 Wm


December 2013


This year has seen work commence around the other side of the house too..


Tree Felling 001 Wm[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=


Lawn border May 2015


Tree Felling 008 Wm[1]


Lawn border a few days later


Conifer 002 Wm[2]


Now you see it…


Conifer Sequence 017 Wm


Now you don’t


Our strategy has been to push the trees further back from the house… just a bit. To remove those presenting a threat to roof, life and limb or those that had a significant impact on light. There is more work to do, the tree surgeons will return later in the year, but already there’s been a monumental difference.


Conifer 001 Wm[2]


There used to be a fence between the spruce and the house.

I didn’t get there quite quickly enough with the camera.. Mike already had the bit between his teeth.


Hedge Clearing 002 Wm[1]


 September 2015


Hedge Clearing 003 Wm[1]


The next job is the scruffy old hedge running down the hill from the spruce stump. It’s not native. Most of it is philadelphus, liberally interspersed with brambles. Now that the birds have finished nesting we’ve started to clear it out.


Hedge Clearing 001 Wm[1]


The hedge from the other side


The acer far right will stay. The rather dead looking tree to the left of it is a hawthorn which I’m proposing to reduce by at least half, with the hope of spurring it on to a second lease of life. There are several self seeded ash and sycamore saplings congesting this group and they will go. As will all of the philadelphus except for the small portion that I’ve carefully protected immediately above the bench. It’s wonderfully fragrant for two weeks of the year but, quite frankly, for the remaining fifty it just sits there as a pile of mediocre leaves and an awful lot of twigs.

With the philadelphus gone the whole of the lawn will be opened up down to the river, bordered by a low lonicera hedge. There’ll be a new path too, starting just to the right of the bench and linking the formal part of the garden with the wooded area beyond. It’s the first time I’ll have done any real landscaping on the woodland edge and I’m conscious of the need for a proper transition.


Corylus maxima 'Purpurea' 001 Wm[2]


Corylus maxima ‘Purpurea’


I found this purple leaved hazel the other day. Close enough to a native tree to be in keeping, but with the purple foliage providing something a touch more ornamental as a backdrop to the lawn. I’d been pushing a cart around the garden centre with the Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ that featured in the Bloomers post last week. The two of them came together for the briefest moment and it was love at first sight. When I plant the corylus with the acer and hawthorn the hydrangea will go in alongside. Wouldn’t be fair, would it, to split them up now.

Not that I’m banking on getting any nuts. Oh no. I know who’ll be getting first pickings of those. He of the grey bushy tail.


And he’s not my only problem either..


Deer 004 Wm[1]


“Mum, there’s some people up there looking at me..”


Deer 006 Wm[1]


“It’s alright dear. You just go finish your dinner. I’ll stand guard.”


Oh for heavens sake.


Linking up with My Garden of the Hesperides for Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day and Christina who is progressing some rather grand designs of her own.


2017-10-24T19:32:43+00:00September 23rd, 2015|Tags: |


  1. Em September 23, 2015 at 11:33 am - Reply

    Oh deer.

    Lovely to see the progress like that. I might be driving over soon….ish. X

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

      That’s great news Em! It’ll be good to see you and hope the foot is getting better x

  2. Piddlewick September 23, 2015 at 11:45 am - Reply

    What a lovely update. I love the mix of information and story telling, and the planning and understanding of the garden itself.

    • Jessica September 23, 2015 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Hi there & thanks. I spend a lot of time standing and looking at it. I’ll call it planning and not that I’m just putting off the inevitable moment when I have to go out there and shift some wood!

  3. Backlane Notebook September 23, 2015 at 11:58 am - Reply

    I thought the badger on my allotment was bad enough but those deer… I shall now be more tolerant.

    • Jessica September 23, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      Badgers are probably worse. I was hoping that by opening up the wood on the fringes of the garden the deer would keep away. They prefer to have plenty of cover. We shall see..

  4. Christina September 23, 2015 at 11:59 am - Reply

    Wow! Jessica, what you’ve done and are planning is far more drastic than my changes to the garden. I think you were brave to take on a house that needed so much work done to the trees although I can see the situation of the house is lovely. Thanks for linking in to GBFD this month.

    • Jessica September 23, 2015 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      I saw the potential in it but seriously underestimated how much work it would take!

  5. Snoskred September 23, 2015 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    It is getting late in the day here in Australia and the reason I know that for sure is because I read your sentence “Most of it is philadelphus, liberally interspersed with brambles” as Most of it is philadelphus, liberally interspersed with zombies.

    Especially interesting considering I gave up on watching The Walking Dead at least half a season ago. 🙂 I shall hope there are never any zombies!

    I’m a new reader to your blog, I found you via Bloglovin’. I loved this post.. 🙂

    • Jessica September 23, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Snoskred, thank you and welcome!
      I also hope there are no zombies. Although they would frighten off the deer… 🙂

  6. Janet/Plantaliscious September 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Impressive! And transformative. Getting rid of those trees has opened everything up so beautifully, and getting rid of that raggedy hedge will really help too, how exciting. I love that you are thinking about the transition between wild woodland and carefully tended garden, and your purple hazel – with its hydrangea friend – will be perfect. I truly don’t envy you all that work though. Exhausting! But it will ultimately give you a rather wonderful garden, without the danger of falling trees destroying your home or damp air rotting your thatch.

    As for the deer, just two words. Venison pie… Or make it a game pie and add some pheasant?!

    • Jessica September 23, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      No venison pie. And definitely no game pie!! 😉
      The hedge looks very different already after this afternoon’s work. It is totally exhausting. But if we can do just a couple of hours a day, weather permitting, through autumn it will look totally transformed.

  7. Mise September 23, 2015 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    I’ve enjoyed seeing the larger-scale photos of your house and garden – now I understand (I think) how it fits together, though my understanding probably falls short of a Google satellite image. You have such scope, such possibility. I know, such hard work too, but a lot of it done!

    • Jessica September 23, 2015 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      Have a look under the ‘Map’ tab above, there is a hand drawn sketch of the garden which should help. There is a huge amount of work. The previous owners lived here very many years but understandably found it difficult to manage eventually.

  8. Jayne Hill September 23, 2015 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Always fabulous to see these ‘retrospectives’ and have Before and After photos side by side. You really have made so much difference already, and I can see how the hedge removal is going to open things up tremendously.

    As for supper, I agree with Janet – Venison pie, Roast haunch of Venison, Venison burgers ….. I used to read an American blog from what was once a most enthusiastic gardener. Endless predation by deer which cannot be culled (local laws and public opinion) has decimated her garden and almost broken her love for growing things. Seriously Jessica, deal with the problem before it gets out of hand otherwise some of your beautiful garden centre acquisitions will be nothing more than a tasty entrée.

    • Jessica September 23, 2015 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Unfortunately there is very little we can do. It would be prohibitively expensive to deer fence the whole plot (and undesirable anyway alongside the river). They don’t seem to be here all the time, occasionally we get one or two passing through and then they disappear for several weeks. I’ll just have to protect trees and shrubs that I plant down at the lower level.

  9. FlowerAlley September 23, 2015 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    I admire your bravery in removing trees. My family has heated discussions about such. It was a much needed improvement. The deer are probably enjoying the results of more sunlight also. Keep up your courage.

    • Jessica September 23, 2015 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks. I don’t like removing trees and wouldn’t do just for the sake of it. When they are a danger or damaging property there’s no choice. Removing them to let in light is perhaps more controversial, but I really don’t want to live in a cave!

  10. AnnetteM September 23, 2015 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    You have made such progress; lovely to see. It is great that you have all the photos and posts too so you can really see what you have achieved. The Hazel and Hydrangea combination is great.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 9:52 am - Reply

      It’s one of the greatest rewards I’ve found from blogging. It really does bring home how far we’ve come. Thanks Annette.

  11. Charlie@Seattle Trekker September 23, 2015 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    I am always fascinated by the telling of your journey….Love seeing the progress, the photos are wonderful.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 9:55 am - Reply

      It does feel like a journey doesn’t it. A long one! The rare moments when I can see things coming together as I had intended give me the push to keep going. Thanks Charlie.

  12. homeslip September 23, 2015 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Jessica you are an inspiration. I love how you and Mike never stand still, well except for those weeks in June and July when you sit on the philadelphus bench eating ice cream, but are always doing stuff. You have made huge progress this year. Does it feel that way to you? Please put some protection round all your newly planted trees and shrubs until they are established. At Winkworth Arboretum they use chicken wire, canes and ties and it”s almost invisible.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 10:02 am - Reply

      It doesn’t always feel that way. The task is so overwhelming that sometimes I feel we are making very little headway. Then we have a good day, some minor achievement and it’s back on track again. Rosemoor use the chicken wire technique too and I will certainly be doing the same. It’s a mixed blessing having the deer. I love to watch them roaming freely about the garden but… oh dear!!! Thanks.

  13. justjilluk September 23, 2015 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Well done. Beautiful. And more plans! Exciting.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 10:03 am - Reply

      Thanks Jill. Exciting and exhausting!

  14. Jennifer September 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    You’ve made fabulous progress already! Your driveway is so long and picturesque, it looks like a country road all by itself, not even really a driveway leading to one house.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Somewhere down the line we need to do more work on it. It’s steeper than it looks in the photos and in places impassable without a 4×4. In our normal road car we can only get as far as the point where the camera is. Beyond that it goes on down through the woods and around a tight hairpin bend. Definitely not for the faint hearted!

  15. bumbleandme September 23, 2015 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Great update. Isn’t it encouraging when you look at the progress you’ve made! We have similar light issues in our cottage and have spent the last 18 months getting light to the cottage. I always think progress feels really slow until you put it into perspective like this. Well done you two! And oh dear on the deer! X

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 10:12 am - Reply

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels progress is slow. I think it most probably is when you are living it day by day and when the task is just so big. It’s true what they say about eating an elephant. Breaking it up into smaller manageable pieces is the only way.

  16. Christina September 23, 2015 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Dear Jessica, wow, you have tackled quite some big landscaping jobs, since you took over the house, and what a positive change you have achieved! I think, besides safety of the house and practical reasons, it was the right thing to do to remove the big trees that were so close to your cottage and opening up the area immediately surrounding your house. It must be so nice to get that much more light into your cottage.
    I love the combination of the Corylus maxima ‘Purpurea’ and the Hydrangea ‘Limelight’. That is a match made in heaven!
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:01 am - Reply

      It’s made a huge difference to the light. English cottages tend to be dark anyway as the windows are quite small and the roof, especially thatch, tends to overhang. Winter light is better, when there are no leaves on the trees and the sun is low enough in the sky to shine right in.

  17. Mrs GH. September 23, 2015 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Oh deer…..we have those…..and moles! Happy gardening!

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:02 am - Reply

      I spotted a mole hill yesterday too. I had been thinking that maybe the gradient had put them off. No chance.

  18. Helen Johnstone September 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    I bet the local tree surgeons love you!! It’s amazing how much it had changed and the new light must be fascinating

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:05 am - Reply

      They seem to be incredibly busy, we usually have to wait several weeks to get them in. Hopefully most of the urgent work will have been done by the year end. Perhaps a couple of days each autumn from now on to keep things under control.

  19. Sue Garrett September 23, 2015 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    You certainly have had and continue to have your work cut out

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:06 am - Reply

      ‘Cut’ being the operative word. 🙂

  20. Rosemary September 23, 2015 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    Reclaiming the garden from time to time is essential isn’t it Jessica – apart from all the stuff we have removed and cut down by ‘men that do’ I am always surprised how much we acquire during the year that needs taking to the dump. The plants left behind soon rearrange themselves and fill in the gaps.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:09 am - Reply

      We’ve had to resort to bonfires. Not very green perhaps, but there is just so much stuff being generated that carting it all down to the dump would take forever.

  21. Virginia September 23, 2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    What progress! And what a vision and LongTermPlan you need to have … not to mention energy, persistence and, I’ll bet £££! Men-who-can-be-trusted-up-a-tree wouldn’t come cheap I’m guessing. We have a pocket handkerchief city section, about the size of a small living room, so a box of herbs and lettuces is all we can aim for. I love sharing your gardening, and as I’ve told you, your trips to beautiful houses and gardens. Thank you.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      It’s not cheap at all.. Nearly £500 per day. But after this year I am hoping that it will take just a couple of days a year to maintain it. And obviously they only do the big stuff that we can’t. Chainsaw man and his trusty winch lady take on as much as they can. Thanks Virginia. We’ve promised ourselves another day out. Soon..

  22. mattb325 September 23, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    Wow – these are some really amazing changes that you’ve made.
    I’ve been umming and ahhing over the philadelphus in my hedgerow and then it flowers, and all is forgiven! I do like that purple-leaved hazel. I shudder to think how much this has cost you. I’ve been doing everything myself on a much smaller garden (including taking down two dead trees) and the tipping fees just to get rid of 400m2 of jasmine was $2,000….yikes!
    But the changes you are making will greatly improve the garden, so it will all be worth it – especially opening the garden up to the river

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      That’s a lot of jasmine but even so…incredible price! Especially as I presume it is either chipped or composted and then sold on. The smaller branches here are chipped but we’ve run out of storage capacity now, so in future it’ll be either dumped in the wood somewhere or carted away (at cost). The bigger branches and trunks are cut to manageable size and kept for firewood.

  23. Julie September 23, 2015 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    Everytime I read your posts I am filled with longing to do something similar, do you have a woodburner with a thatch to use up all of this wood? I really like the Corylus and Hydrangea together too. And possibly rather naively the deer are gorgeous, hopefully not too much was eaten!

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:07 pm - Reply

      Wood burners and thatch are a contentious issue. There is one installed here that we haven’t used so far but I’m hoping we’ve found a safe solution and will be able to burn the wood in the future. The deer are gorgeous, it’s lovely to have them. If they can only contain their nibbling to the weedy bits of the garden they can happily stay!

  24. snowbird September 23, 2015 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    How much more open and light it all looks. Some big plans too, good luck with those. I did love the deer

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks snowbird. The deer are naturally wary but seem quite content. We watched them in the garden for over half an hour. I know they will nibble, but if we can successfully protect vulnerable plants it will be great to have them. One was clearly a youngster so good to know they are breeding successfully.

  25. Amy at love made my home September 23, 2015 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Wow, you really have made such a massive difference and had a huge positive impact on the garden – and safety of the house! It is all looking wonderful and just gets better and better! xx

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:14 pm - Reply

      I hope so Amy, it just all seems to be happening very slowly for me!

  26. Diana Studer September 24, 2015 at 12:22 am - Reply

    the Ungardener and I have an ongoing battle between his green more green and my light Must Have Light.
    My first impression of our house, was a green coffin, long and narrow with tall trees and hedges on the 3 sides away from the road.
    Prunings get shredded and returned as mulch, to encourage the next round!

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:20 pm - Reply

      We’ve accumulated a huge pile of chippings this year! They need to rot down a bit before they can be used on the soil (otherwise they suck the nitrogen out of it) but they will be put to good use in the months to come. I’d agree.. we need light.

  27. Dorothy @ The Nature of Things September 24, 2015 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Lovely! A breakthrough indeed. Your reordering of the landscape is an inspiration to me and, I’m sure, many others.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:27 pm - Reply

      Hopefully what we’ve removed should never have been here in the first place. In the midst of the conifers on the bank we found a couple of very straggly but possibly much older crab apple trees. I’m trying to restore them with pruning.

  28. Kris P September 24, 2015 at 4:46 am - Reply

    Between work on the house and work on the garden, do you have time to sleep? Your progress all around is impressive.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:29 pm - Reply

      As from today.. the nights are longer than the days 🙁

  29. Peter/Outlaw September 24, 2015 at 6:57 am - Reply

    You’ve done so much work is such a short time! Amazing and wonderful! Those giant slugs with feet (deer) can sure do a lot of damage, can’t they?

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:32 pm - Reply

      They certainly can. I prefer them to the slugs though. In no way can slugs be called cute.

  30. threadspider September 24, 2015 at 8:05 am - Reply

    I salute you and your team (not the four legged ones) for the vast amount of work you have done already. It’s looking splendid, not just for the opening out and letting in the light, but the huge amount is hard work needed to deal with and dispose of the resulting brushwood. Fabulous job.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:38 pm - Reply

      Unfortunately the tree felling is often just the start of it. It tends to reveal more work to be done and then there’s all the clearing up in the aftermath. The big tree trunk was taken down in slices about three inches thick to avoid damage to what was below. It’s taken me half a day so far to remove the sawdust and I haven’t finished yet.

  31. Marian St.Clair September 24, 2015 at 9:24 am - Reply

    The purple leaved hazel is stunning, good find! Hope the deer were on their way to grandma’s.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:41 pm - Reply

      I do like the deer, do you think I could train them to nibble only weeds?

  32. emilymbrown13 September 24, 2015 at 9:29 am - Reply

    What fantastic progress, how lovely to be creating real visible change. I feel the urge to go and do something drastic now, rather than the fiddling around the edges that most of my gardening tends to be. Well done.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:45 pm - Reply

      Sometimes I wish I’d never started it. A bit of light weeding is a real joy! Thanks Emily.

  33. Jo September 24, 2015 at 11:40 am - Reply

    I think many of us would have given up by now with all the wildlife doing their best to thwart your plans for the garden. You can really see a difference in the light, even in the photos, since you’ve taken down the trees.

    • Jessica September 24, 2015 at 11:52 pm - Reply

      There’s a lot more to do but it has made such a difference to the light. The plants underneath the big tree have suddenly sprung into life too!

  34. Island Threads September 24, 2015 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    you are making good in roads Jessica (and Mike), like you I did not realise the work involved, just saw (and still see) the potential, it is finding time and money to do this kind of work, I like your hydrangea and hazel love affair, I believe you can coppice hawthorns so you can cut it as much as you want and it should respond well, with all the extra light it should open up the plants you can grow, that’s the fun bit, Frances

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 12:03 am - Reply

      You’ve given me an idea Frances. We were talking today about the hawthorn and had decided just to remove it because it’s in the wrong place. Now I’m thinking we’ll cut it right back and then winch it out, hopefully with some roots, and replant it somewhere else. If it doesn’t survive we’ve lost nothing. But it could work, in which case we’ve gained a tree. It’s an ornamental one with red blooms.. Paul’s Scarlet I think.

      • Island Threads September 25, 2015 at 10:00 am - Reply

        I hope it works, the ones I have, have never produced flowers and have not grown well, years after I planted them I learnt that contrary to popular belief they do not like salty winds, however I imagine hawthorns would grow well in your woodland garden and they are wonderful for wildlife, they are pretty tough so I should think it would work, I dug out 2 elderberries that were growing against the wall of the house, everyone told me it was their roots causing the damp in the kitchen, it wasn’t, I had a heck of a job getting them out and hacked them, the root was huge, I had to roll them away and they still sit where they were put, for 2 years after each year they produced shoots, I should have tried to replant them but at that time I had not got much ground cleared, I dug up a wormwood that had gone woody and put it, no dumped it, it has re rooted and grows, I’d taken cuttings of both these plants too and would suggest as your hawthorn is a cultivar you take some cuttings too, then you will have some small plants and can choose a planting position for them, good luck, Frances

        • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 9:30 pm - Reply

          Well, today we cleared all the stuff from around the hawthorn and it was clear it hasn’t fared very well. Swamped and starved of light there were only leaves left at the very top and a lot of dead branches, so we took it out. I did keep some of the good growth for cuttings though, so hopefully it will live to fight another day. It may also re-sprout from the root, which we didn’t haul out for fear of breaking down the bank it was growing on. Time will tell…

  35. Rick Nelson September 24, 2015 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    The amount of work you have got through is really impressive rd, definitely a case of let the sun shine in:-)

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 12:07 am - Reply

      I have discovered since moving here that there is shade and then there is deep shade. Only one of them is really suitable for growing plants. Thanks Rick.

  36. Denise September 24, 2015 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Aahhh..those deer! I have a soft spot for deer; my great grandfather was deerkeeper at the village where I grew up. You can still see the remains of his house in the deerpark by the church. And the deer are still there, going strong. I know they nibble things they shouldn’t but…well, I do like deer.

    I think the progress you’ve made with your garden is wonderful!

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 12:12 am - Reply

      I like deer too. I remember days of my childhood spent in Richmond Park. If only I could restrict nibbling to weedy or invasive plants we’d get on so well.

  37. frayed at the edge September 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Excellent progress! I had to laugh at the appearance of the deer – I don’t suppose Mike could construct a deer-twirler, on the same lines as the squirrel-twirler?!

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 12:17 am - Reply

      Now isn’t that an interesting thought! I was thinking about the kind of traps they used to use in Africa.. deer steps in net and gets strung up from the nearest tree. Humanely of course, so I could release it somewhere it could do no harm. The new beasties of Bodmin Moor perhaps.

  38. Brian Skeys September 24, 2015 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    A lovely wooded walk down to the river, ideal. Some trees should never be planted!

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 12:19 am - Reply

      You’re so right Brian. Conifers have got a lot to answer for.

  39. Sarah September 24, 2015 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    It is so rewarding to see how your garden has changed and the difference removing some of the trees make. Your future plans sound wonderful too. Sarah x

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 12:22 am - Reply

      Thanks Sarah. It’s good to look back because it reminds us of the progress we have made. Progress gets lost sometimes in the day to day.

  40. hoehoegrow September 24, 2015 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Such a lovely feeling to let the light flood in, and you have done some mammoth work to allow that to happen! I always feel a strange mixture of guilt and relief when a tree has to come down, and I always apologise before the dastardly deed is done ! Your plot looks flooded with lovely light now !
    All hail to the squirrels, who shall have first dibs on anything nutty!!

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 12:28 am - Reply

      Damn squirrels. It’s been quite funny though, watching them. They used to use the big tree as an escape route. So now they head down the path towards it and then do a double take… They pause just long enough for me to catch up with the water pistol.. 🙂

  41. casa mariposa September 25, 2015 at 2:20 am - Reply

    I love how much brighter your garden is! But those damn deer! I hope they don’t eat everything in sight.

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 9:39 am - Reply

      At the moment the deer seem to be loving the scrubby bit that will one day be a bog garden… long may it continue!

  42. cherylwest2015 September 25, 2015 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    You have done so much to open and improve your garden, I know it is never ending but lovely to live in a green and floral landscape. We have a wonderful arborist to help us from becoming too overgrown. My husband would envy you your mossy driveway but not the deer.

    • Jessica September 25, 2015 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Good arborists are handy things to have! Ours are good too, but very busy. We have to wait several weeks sometimes before they can come out. In future we’ll try and plan ahead a little better. I’d prefer to get work done in autumn as well, then we don’t have to worry about birds nesting.

  43. germac4 September 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Great post…I think someone has said this already, but you combine story-telling with pictures, the best kind of blog!
    It is lovely to be able to track the changes you are making to your garden. We have changed some much in our garden, and big gum trees have been the biggest challenge…so costly to even cut down huge branches. I think your deers seem like our kangaroos!

    • Jessica September 26, 2015 at 9:57 am - Reply

      Thank you Gerrie! Gum trees grow so huge, I can imagine the expense of taking one of those down. The deer probably have much in common with kangaroos. Not so much of the bounding, but they can leap very tall fences. It’s difficult to stop them once they’ve found a way in. Protecting individual trees and shrubs will have to be the way forward and just accept them as a wonderful addition to the wildlife in the garden.. remind me I said that.. 🙁

  44. Amy September 25, 2015 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Leaving a late – and no doubt invisible – comment… I’m not surprised the hydrangea/corylus combination was love at first sight – what a beautiful effect! I’m sure it must be a relief to get more sunlight in – to you and the plants, at any rate, though I don’t suppose it will slow down the four-legged eaters of gardens either!

    • Jessica September 26, 2015 at 10:04 am - Reply

      It worked! Hurray!
      I’m secretly hoping that opening up more of the garden to the wood (it looks radically different already, even from this time yesterday) will put off the deer. They don’t generally like to be close to humans or buildings. I may yet be proved wrong but time will tell.

  45. Caro September 26, 2015 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Deer may pose a problem for the garden but I would love to see deer in the wild. Richmond Park is the closest I’m going to get to that dream these days! A friend’s house in Hampshire was built next to an old brick quarry that gradually got planted up with grasses, teasels and silver birch … and then the deer came. The M27 motorway was at the top of a bank on the far side but that didn’t deter them. It was wonderful to see them so I’m pleased that you’re tolerant of your visitors. (Or maybe they’re tolerant of you … ? :o) xx ) PS. Great work on the gardens, look how far you’ve come!

    • Jessica September 26, 2015 at 2:11 pm - Reply

      You’re right Caro I’m sure, they or their predecessors could well have been here first and then we moved in. I’m very conscious especially when removing trees and hedges that they are a home for wildlife too. It’s always a balancing act isn’t it. But our impact is minimal on the wood as a whole.

  46. Jayne on Weed Street September 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    It seems that where there is a forest, there are deer! I admire your progress – it is hard to cut down a live, healthy tree, but better to have some healthy undergrowth near the home!

    • Jessica September 26, 2015 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      Hi Jayne and welcome!
      Yes, I agree. What made me feel slightly better about it was the discovery that perhaps the ‘big tree’ was not as sound as we thought. We might have been in trouble a few more years down the road. I’m just glad that a job I was dreading is now out of the way. Although I did spend another three hours today trying to clear up sawdust from around the base.. and still there’s more to go!

  47. CherryPie September 26, 2015 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    WOW! what a difference you have made. The space around you house is looking wonderful. It is always difficult to cut down a tree, but when they are placed to near to a house it is something that has to be done.

    • Jessica September 27, 2015 at 9:42 am - Reply

      It is Cherie. It feels a lot safer now. I hope your neighbour’s lovely oak will regain some of its beauty when it resprouts next Spring.

  48. Donna@Gardens Eye View September 28, 2015 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Although all those trees are so lovely, I do understand the dilemma to life and limb and the house…we had a similar issue at the old house and a bit here too. But you have so many trees, each breakthrough makes a difference and yet keeps the lovely woodsy effect.

    • Jessica September 28, 2015 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      It would be difficult to lose the woodsy effect. It can be somewhat claustrophobic at times, it does need thinning. One of the benefits of winter is the extra light! But I’m aware of the need for balance and a habitat for wildlife. Whatever we do it will be with sensitivity.

  49. woolythymes September 29, 2015 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    what vision you have!!!!!!!!! It’s all lovely!!!

    • Jessica September 30, 2015 at 9:37 am - Reply

      Thanks Steph. Vision (through the trees) is improving!

  50. natalie October 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Your house and property are just so exquisitely beautiful! And so green. 🙂 Love the deer.

    • Jessica October 3, 2015 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      But can I train them not to nibble.. that’s the thing!

I'd love to hear from you..