The Final Frontier


Lawn Edging 001 Wm[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=


If you’ve been following our efforts since the start of the year (here) you’ll remember that we’ve been gradually trying to open up the view from the lawn. Surrounded by tall trees and hedges it felt oppressive to say the least, not to mention the impact all that greenery was having on light levels inside the house.

By September just this single hedge remained, left in place until we could be sure the birds had finished nesting.


Lawn Edging 003 Wm[1]


The lofty perch atop the builders’ scaffolding provides a different angle as work progressed

Mike used a brush cutter to clear the ground immediately below the drive and give us access to the large sycamore tree just at left of shot. Using its trunk as an anchor we could then winch out each of the philadelphus shrubs forming the hedge.


Lawn Edging 004 Wm[1]


Déjà vu: a new ‘heap’ marks the spot at the end of the drive..


Lawn Edging 004a Wm[2]


Unbelievably all of this went up in flames in a single day, far too much of it to cart off down the dump.


Lawn Edging 005 Wm[3]


The last photo before the scaffolding came down. Most of the hedge now removed.


Lawn Edging 002 Wm[2]




Lawn Edging 006 Wm[1]




From a solid green blob of a hedge to the beginnings of a vista deep into the woodland. The river meanders around those two conifers dead centre. The trees remain for now, although I have to say the jury is out. Maybe see how we feel about them come Spring.


Lawn Edging 007 Wm[1]


Looking up river from what used to be the hedge


Hedge Clearing 003 Wm[1]




Lawn Edging 008 Wm[1]




After a bit more levelling I plan to plant a lonicera hedge to make a new curved boundary to the lawn, 12-18″ in height. Thankfully, it being winter, they’ll be no wild parties in the meantime. With risk of guests tumbling off the edge. As if.

It’s coming on.

The Final Frontier

2017-10-24T19:32:42+00:00November 12th, 2015|Tags: , |


  1. sustainablemum November 12, 2015 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Wow, what an amazing transformation! Slow and steady but worth the work.

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks. Much as I love trees and shrubs they do need to be in the right place.

  2. derrickjknight November 12, 2015 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Excellent progress. On a different scale to ours, this is nevertheless reminiscent

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      Opening up a garden makes such a difference doesn’t it. My trouble is knowing when to stop!

  3. Sam November 12, 2015 at 11:55 am - Reply

    It definitely is coming on. The view you have of the trees now is just lovely. A lonicera hedge sounds like a good solution for a boundary – neat and low.

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      It’s fast growing, that’s its only drawback, a lot of clipping. But in the short term it will work well and quickly fill out.

  4. Jacqueline November 12, 2015 at 11:58 am - Reply

    A fabulous result from a great deal of work …… you and Mike must be feeling pretty good about how it looks Jessica …. the hard work very much worthwhile.
    Just think how wonderul it’s going to look come Spring. XXXX

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      It’s been a good year and some much needed jobs done. The challenge will be keeping it this open. There’s more work to be done in the woodland to keep it clear. Thanks Jackie.

  5. Linda November 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica….
    Love how you can see the water now…
    Much cleaner looking..
    You guys have been working like beavers…time to relax?
    Enjoy your Fall weather…
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Beavers is spot on!
      Definitely time to relax. I bought a scarf and socks while out today. At some level I must be in winter mode even if I haven’t yet quite come to accept it.

  6. Linda aka Crafty Gardener November 12, 2015 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Amazing changes, love the more open look into the woods.

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      It is much better. It’s opening out even more as the leaves come off the trees and light gets through to the woodland floor.

  7. Backlane Notebook November 12, 2015 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Well done. How lovely to have a woodland to wander through and to plant-up with bulbs for Spring and Autumn. I would have to take the conifers out if it were my project…just saying !!

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      From some angles the conifers look OK, from others not. I’m going to take off some of the lower branches, which are mostly bare anyway, and see if that improves things. If not, they go.

  8. CJ November 12, 2015 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Coming on indeed, how hard you’ve both been working. The view into the woodland is gorgeous. And the CJ xxaerial view from the top of the scaffolding is brilliant.

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      It was an unmissable opportunity, the view from on high. We were joking whilst making dinner last night about getting one of those drone things, until we saw how much they cost! Then we could have permanent aerial views.

  9. AnnetteM November 12, 2015 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    What a difference! You must be so pleased with what you have achieved. You do everything on a much grander scale than the rest of us!!!

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      I don’t know about grander. I think we spread ourselves a bit too thin, over-optimistically taking on too many projects at one time and then all of them suffer as a result. Perhaps that’s why the previous owner put a high hedge round the lawn – so he could happily ignore the rest!

  10. Julie November 12, 2015 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    It must be wonderful to be the caretaker of a woodland garden, even more lovely to be the owner, hopefully there will not be one to many before the hedge goes in!

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Or sleepwalking… could be a rude awakening.

  11. justjilluk November 12, 2015 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Just brilliant.

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jill. In a way I’m sort of hoping for snow. The conifers with snow on them will remind me of Scotland.

  12. Linda from Each Little World November 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Isn’t it nice to have “before” photos to remind youself of how much you’ve accomplished? Quote dramatic.

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Absolutely. It’s becoming a whole series of photos, a great way to document the evolution of the garden.

  13. Denise November 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Those conifers look like useful Christmas trees to me…you could decorate them with pheasants’ feet and squirrels’ nuts. Just a thought…

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Squirrels’ nuts is a definite possibility. It won’t be the sort they eat either.

  14. Pauline November 12, 2015 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    What a difference! You are both working so hard, if it was me, the conifers would go, but be replaced by something deciduous with blossom in the spring and wonderful colour in the autumn,so that you could see the river in the winter!

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Funnily enough I was looking at an Amelanchier just the other day!

  15. Christina November 12, 2015 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, a big hurrah for the progress that you have made by taking out the hedge. That must have been a heck of a job! The new opened up view to the stream meandering through the woods below your cottage is just wonderful. I think your decision to push nature back a little bit from the immediate surrounding of your cottage is the right one. More light and “breathing space” is good!
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Given how long the house has been here it must be the case that trees were either planted, or allowed to grow, much closer to the house than they should. If you look at the size of the tree stump next to house from the aerial shot.. that is literally only six feet away and the tree was 80′ high. Pushing nature back is sometimes the only realistic thing to do. But I am enjoying the extra light and the feeling of space, I have to admit.

  16. Anne Wheaton November 12, 2015 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    But now you can see the woodland beyond, you’ll make big plans for that too … Do you think you’ll ever get to the stage when you say “Enough! We’ve done it!”

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Enough.. Yes. We’ve done it.. No!

  17. Spade & Dagger November 12, 2015 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    I think I might be tempted to edge the lawn with something like a low, open-work rustic ‘fence’ (willow withies or the more expensive wrought iron) that would allow permanent ground level views through to that lovely, lower level woodland and water.

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      That is a good idea. Certainly, if we have a hedge it will be kept very low. There’s also still more height to take out of the edge of the lawn to make it level, so that will help too. But a ‘see-through’ fence would look good. I chose the lonicera because there is already some there, planted along the long straight edge, although it had grown to about six feet high before I hacked it back!

  18. Sarah November 12, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    How fantastic to open up the view to the river. I love the way it meanders, you’ll be building bridges or installing stepping stones next. My parents used to live on the river opposite a little island and they used to row themselves across (in a little wooden junk boat called Ming) and plant snowdrops in the woodland. Just an idea Jessica!

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      That sounds lovely! The mice seem to leave snowdrops alone so hopefully I can establish a few good clumps down there. A lot of it is waterlogged most of the time though, it’s prime bog garden territory.

  19. Helen November 12, 2015 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    You have done so much, it is looking fab

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks Helen. As ever it is negotiating the slope which really saps the energy.

  20. Brian Skeys November 12, 2015 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    I can now understand why you wished to remove the hedge Jessica. I too can visualise a planted riverside walk!

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for so long. It’s like extending your house. You can walk round the old wall to see the new addition, but it isn’t until the wall comes down that the full impact hits you.

  21. bumbleandme November 12, 2015 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    The view of the stream is amazing! Well done! You’ve done a brilliant job. X

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks. I have a horrible feeling the real work is yet to come.

  22. Dorothy @ The Nature of Things November 12, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful transformation you have achieved. The lonicera hedge will make a fantastic finishing touch. Congratulations on the results of all your planning and hard work.

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Dorothy. It’s a good way to finish off the year. Over winter we can think about what to do with it next.

  23. Amy at love made my home November 12, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    You really are making such wonderful changes!! Next year is going to bring even greater things I am sure! xx

    • Jessica November 12, 2015 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      Next year is about consolidation, mostly around the edge of the lawn. I don’t want to change the woodland too much, it is a wild area and should stay as such. Add some things sympathetically here and there but no wholesale clearing.

  24. Sue Garrett November 12, 2015 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    You almost have the beginnings of ha ha.

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      I’ve always wanted a ha ha. If it keeps out rogue sheep and cows then it’ll do nicely. Although there’s a plan to put a path through which might weaken the defensive line a bit.

  25. Diana Studer November 12, 2015 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    making space here. And planting more. And wondering if I’m already back to … makng space.
    How wonderful to see the river winding thru the trees!!

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      There may be plenty of space in the woodland but I have exactly the same issue in the more formal parts of the garden. And the spaces that do exist are never in the right place!

  26. Beth @ PlantPostings November 13, 2015 at 12:51 am - Reply

    Lovely view of the river. I like the idea of a cultivated section, with a wild woodland beyond. And of course I love your terraced garden!

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      The challenge will be to get the transition right, so the cultivated and the wild appear to blend seamlessly into each other. Thanks Beth.

  27. woolythymes November 13, 2015 at 2:32 am - Reply

    you made it all look so effortless (hee hee—we DO know better, tough!!!) and natural. it’s lovely!!!

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:05 pm - Reply

      Two months’ work collapsed into a minute.. if only! Thanks Steph.

  28. Kris P November 13, 2015 at 4:38 am - Reply

    You’ve opened up a beautiful new view for yourselves. I hope you enjoy it thoroughly through this season and all that follow.

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks Kris. Your low hedge bordering a view has inspired me greatly.

  29. Christina November 13, 2015 at 7:06 am - Reply

    I love your vision; I remember you writing about the hedge some time ago and thinking that removing large shrubs is hard work and then sometimes the garden looks bare afterwards; I should have trusted your vision – the view into the woods is wonderful. Inviting you in to explore. Had you stood behind the hedge and seen the possibilities or just used your imagination. Seeing glimpses of the river as it sweeps by adds energy to the view. Well done for all the hard work.

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      It was difficult to get to the area behind the hedge and still is on account of the slope, but I did climb to it one day to try and get a feel for how it would look. I haven’t been disappointed with the outcome. The plan is to put in a path from the lawn down into the wood and to the river. Now I can see it I want to be able to walk down there more easily.

  30. ginaferrari November 13, 2015 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Fabulous change already with so much more space and light. What a great garden.

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:25 pm - Reply

      You wouldn’t believe how hemmed in it used to be. Quite claustrophobic.

  31. germac4 November 13, 2015 at 8:40 am - Reply

    I love the river meandering through your garden, and the bench tucked in between the greenery…good luck with all your hard work.

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gerrie. The philadelphus in the hedge was gloriously scented so I’ve kept the section around the bench, although I think it needs a further trim to get it to resprout from the base. It’s rather leggy, as philadelphus is inclined to be.

  32. Chloris November 13, 2015 at 9:21 am - Reply

    What an enormous task, but well worth it. I love the view of the river meandering through the trees. Pity about the wild parties though. Still, you have to make some sacrifices for a beautiful garden and a view.

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:34 pm - Reply

      Sacrifices do indeed have to be made. No doubt the creatures of the wood will continue with their own parties but one hopes they have better night vision than us.

  33. Rick Nelson November 13, 2015 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Great result for all your hard work rd, it’s a credit to you.

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rick. All winter now to compile the long list of the things that need doing next.

  34. snowbird November 13, 2015 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    It’s incredible how much of a diffence that’s made, yes, everything is opened up and looking marvelous….great to have a river view, I envy you that!xxx

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:41 pm - Reply

      What I’m enjoying most is how much more visible the animals are. When the deer wander past I can see them now. I can also see what they’re munching which is not so good!

  35. frayed at the edge November 13, 2015 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Now you can put your feet up and relax over the winter …….. you could even learn to quilt!!!!!

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:46 pm - Reply

      Relaxing is definitely in the plan. And you never know.. especially as I know where to come for tuition. And scones.

  36. Jayne Hill November 13, 2015 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    Huge congratulations. Having done the ‘opening up a view’ thing ourselves I am loving watching your achievements. When you look back at these pictures in a couple of years time you will find it hard to remember just how overgrown and oppressive some areas were – make sure you/Mike takes loads of photos 🙂

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:51 pm - Reply

      The pictures are fabulous to have, they really bring home how far you’ve come. Sometimes it’s easy to forget. Especially when progress seems so very slow.

  37. Jayne Hill November 13, 2015 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    PS: those two conifers => log store with indecent haste!

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      They’ve got a reprieve until Spring, it’s got too boggy to work down there now. They may even blow down sometime over winter and save me the angst.

  38. hb November 13, 2015 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    It looks vastly better, and it doesn’t appear you’ve lost any privacy. Well done!

    • Jessica November 13, 2015 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks hoov. There are still plenty of trees, for the wildlife and for privacy. I’m not done yet either.

  39. Harriet from the Netherlands November 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Oops! The boring factor being me of course, not you!!

    • Jessica November 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm - Reply

      I didn’t take it wrongly, don’t worry. For some reason your original very kind comment (thank you!) has attached itself to an image on the post. I used to be able to move comments but not any more it seems. So, I have replied there.. click on the very last image (the pinterest small one) and you will find it. Thanks Harriet.

  40. bittster November 14, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    I love how open it’s become, and the planting possibilities sound great! I would consider leaving the smaller conifers, they might be nice for stopping you from seeing into the entire woods all at once…. but once they lose the bottom branches and just become year-round rooty light hogs, I say go!

    • Jessica November 14, 2015 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      I thought I’d take some of the bottom branches off anyway, they are already mostly bare, and see how it looks then. It should give me a better view through to the river. If it doesn’t work, they go.

  41. Indie November 14, 2015 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    How wonderful to be able to see the little river meandering through! Looking great!

    • Jessica November 14, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks Indie. Today it’s quite a big river… we’ve had a lot of rain!

  42. FlowerAlley November 14, 2015 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    You must really feel good about this move. I love the added depth and light. I hope you can get some rest now, before the busy work of spring starts. Your plants will thrive with the extra sun and space. I look forward to more updates.

    • Jessica November 14, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      It’s pretty much an enforced rest because the soil here tends to be so wet. Working it would do more damage than good and I’d probably end up slithering off the hill.

  43. Josephine November 14, 2015 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    Such a difference, much more light, and hopefully both the garden and the cottage occupants will benefit from the changes.
    I commend you for doing all that hard work, others would have thrown in the shovel by now.
    Your cottage and gardens are exquisitely spectacular.

    • Jessica November 15, 2015 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Jo, I saw the potential in it but realised we would never be able to afford it unless we did much of the work ourselves. Needs must! Thanks x

  44. Angie November 15, 2015 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    You mean you don’t have wild parties in the snow! I think the fact that you have both done all this work makes it even more commendable. It’s been a busy year at Rusty Duck – winter is time to recharge the batteries me thinks. If you remove those conifers are you able to see more of the river? If so, then I think that’s the argument to take them out.

    • Jessica November 17, 2015 at 2:19 pm - Reply

      It’s been a very busy year and definitely time for a bit of a break. I plan to remove the lower branches of those conifers in the hope that we will see the river beneath. If that doesn’t work they are coming out.

  45. Sarah November 15, 2015 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Wow! What a mammoth effort and such fab results! I’m always a bit nervous about cutting down trees but I have to say removing some of the larger specimens around our house was the best thing we ever did. Let loads of light in and we found that plants that we’d never seen before began popping up all over the show including a delicious, dark pink peony! Of course we did plant up the Nuttery to replace the trees (and more). You’re so right though. A tree has to be in the right place. Well done!

    • Jessica November 17, 2015 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      Trees can do a lot of damage close to buildings. Hopefully in the end I’ll also have planted more than we took down. They’ll never get as big, but given the position that’s probably just as well.

  46. Cathy November 15, 2015 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Now, are you sure you can’t visualise the lonicera hedge finishing up in a burning heap a few years down the line, Jessica? Can’t you just accept the loss of a few late night revellers falling in the river to keep your open view? I am sure it would be worth it 😉

    • Jessica November 17, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      The lonicera will be under strict instructions re height. If it puts so much as a leaf over the maximum limit it will be for the chop. Or the burning bush.

  47. Sarah November 16, 2015 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    I love philadelphus and wouldn’t have wanted to cut that down, but seeing the view that you now have was well worth their removal. Just as well you have no wild parties planned with that slope. Just hope your wildlife weren’t planning any parties either! Sarah x

    • Jessica November 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      I’ve probably made it easier for them to get into the garden, that’s the only problem!

  48. Julieanne November 17, 2015 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Wonderful to see the changes so clearly. And that view of the stream is something you would definitely want to see. Well done on getting the hard work finished.

    • Jessica November 17, 2015 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Julieanne. There’s more levelling to do once the soil dries out again but it feels a good way to end the season to get most of the hard work done.

  49. CherryPie November 18, 2015 at 12:12 am - Reply

    It looks wonderful and I would love to sit on that bench and rest a while 🙂

    As to cutting down extra trees… Perhaps the two conifers in the foreground because in a short space of time they will dominate the area and block out the light.

    • Jessica November 18, 2015 at 7:44 am - Reply

      Yes, those are the two trees in my sights and for just that reason. At the moment they’re still of a size we can get them down.

  50. Sheila November 19, 2015 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Lots of hard work but worth it! How lovely to be able to see the stream and into the woods.

    • Jessica November 19, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

      I’ve been wanting to do it for years but worried that it would just expose a lot more work. It does do that, but the new view makes up for it!

  51. Linda P November 23, 2015 at 9:55 am - Reply

    What a transformation to the view! It was so worth it to have cleared out those shrubs – something I know you’ve wanted to do for some time for several reasons. I’m sure you have more plans for the wooded area, but for the moment I hope you’re able to rest as you wind down for the Winter.

    • Jessica November 23, 2015 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      I want to put a path through to the woodland from the lawn, but it can wait until next year. We’ve achieved quite a bit this season and I think it’s time for a rest! Thanks Linda.

  52. Donna@Gardens Eye View December 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Somehow I lost the feed to your wonderful blog and so i am just catching up….what a stunning view now of the woodland. A huge job. Love the view from above too!

    • Jessica December 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      It looks even better now that the leaves have dropped. Not quite a vista, but I can dream. Thanks Donna, welcome back!

I'd love to hear from you..