Blowin’ A Hoolie..

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Before we leap further into Norway’s snow and ice, post sauna obviously, a brief update on our own Precipitous Bank for Helen’s End of Month View. And what a difference a month does make. We returned home to find that winter, courtesy of Storm Barney and then a temperature drop to -3, has arrived here too.

The Bank looks so monochrome now after the fiery hues of autumn.

What with the weather and being away I haven’t done a lot more work on it this month, just a recent quick tidy up of the worst of the storm detritus. The floppy crocosmias (above right of shot), having assumed a position close to horizontal, succumbed to the secateurs. The worst offenders, at the front of the clump, suffered the fate of so many of their predecessors: the black bin liner and a trip down to the dump. I marvelled at how easy it is to pull away the spent flower stems from the Anemanthele lessoniana (above centre), leaving a much tidier clump to wait out the winter until it is relocated in March.


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A diminutive (variety unknown) rose


Blooms are at a premium now and take persistence to spot. It is obvious that I still have work to do to provide late season interest on the bank. Apart from the really soggy and untidy stuff, I’m leaving cutting back until Spring. There are still the black buttons of rudbeckia. I planted a phlomis and home grown echinops a few weeks ago so hopefully by next year they’ll be more seed heads on show.


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Hydrangea petiolaris

Attractive even in decay. Note in the background the plump new shoots which stand ready to take over come Spring.


And then, with only a handful of photographs in the bag, the heavens darkened and rain began to fall as the next storm rode in. Fighting a losing battle in the wind attempting to keep an umbrella above both our heads and the camera, in the end I had to admit defeat. Which turned out to be just as well really….



Bear in mind that some of those conifers must be 50-60 feet tall.


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Primula vulgaris (old photo)


Everywhere in the garden wild primroses are already popping up, pulmonaria too. Evergreen ferns and grasses will provide ground cover and texture for months to come. There is a hellebore in bloom and grape hyacinths filling out. And next month maybe even snowdrops pushing up? It won’t be much longer.


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The new view from the top of the Precipitous Bank


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April 2015


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When I looked back at this shot, from June, I felt a touch nostalgic..


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But really, it is so much better to have a view.


You can find out more about the End Of Month View (here) at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Click through to see what other gardeners are up to this month.


2017-10-24T19:32:42+00:00November 30th, 2015|Tags: |


  1. Island Threads November 30, 2015 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    ‘The Bank looks so monochrome now after the fiery hues of autumn.’ and I was just thinking how much foliage you still had and how there were subtle changes of colour and lots of variety of texture, back to reading the post,

    the rose looks beautiful, Frances

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      I think my problem with the bank is that unless there are strongly defined contrasts it does tend to look rather bland. It’s an impossible place to get close to to appreciate fine detail. The soil makes it a no-go area in winter and therefore it’s only really possible to view it at a distance. It’s why I have gone for a lot of spiky things, like the Libertia and Phormium. They break up the softness of the other foliage. It could still do with more colour though..

      • Spade & Dagger December 1, 2015 at 8:53 pm - Reply

        I’ve noticed in public gardens (NT, RHS etc) very awkward spots are often planted with eye catching patchworks of big blocks of the same plants, where the effect comes from large scale contrasts rather than the features of individual plants. (I suppose its also labour saving!)

        • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 11:07 pm - Reply

          It’s a useful approach and will work well for me here, where I can only really view the bank from a distance. I’ve tended to put just a couple of specimens of each in to start with, to see how they do, then I’ll propagate or buy in more of the ones that get on well with the conditions. There have been so many failures and plants are so expensive.

  2. Freda November 30, 2015 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    Quite a hooley.. Brava Jessica!

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      Is it hoolie or hooley? On the internet I found both. Dialects perhaps. Thanks Freda!

  3. Brian Skeys November 30, 2015 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    I am sure at times like this you are pleased you removed the trees nearest to the house,

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      It’s why we did it Brian. They were almost all conifers, long thin trunks that sway in the wind. The specimens originally on the bank were just as tall, just as whippy, planted with roots at roof level and some less than four feet from the house. Crazy or what?

  4. wherefivevalleysmeet November 30, 2015 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    I love the video of the dancing trees swaying with the gusts of wind – at least they are far enough away from the house that you don’t need to worry.

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

      It’s a lot easier to sleep through storms these days! The trouble is two of those conifers lifted themselves partially out of the ground last year, had to be winched back up and tied by rope to stronger trees. There’s a lot resting on those ropes.

  5. Charlie@Seattle Trekker November 30, 2015 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    Wow, that is windy, I love the shot you got of your rose…We had our first really hard frost so my garden has lost all color and is truly now resting for the winter. I look forward to your posts and any color you bring to the winter days that are coming.

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      I do hate to see the garden after the first frost. I know it will all come back, but it seems so far away!

  6. Denise November 30, 2015 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Is Ptolemy a stunt pheasant?

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      Now there’s a thought. I did see him fly up into one of those swaying conifers at dusk last night, so perhaps he does like a bit of excitement.

  7. sweetbriardreams November 30, 2015 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Wind scares me especially hearing and seeing trees sway violently. Our garden is such a soggy mess now so it’s lovely to see yours with so many blooms still trying to hold on. Take care, I hear there are more storms on the way. xx

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      The ground is very wet here too, which is what worries me when those trees start to sway like that. If the storms carry on at the same pace as they have been I wonder how many more trees will come down.

  8. Jacqueline November 30, 2015 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Fantastic video Jessica and not a little scary !!!!! I think that you were as brave as the bird !
    A very bleak time of year isn’t it but, still a little splash of colour …. my St. Swithuns is still throwing out roses even now !! …. love your hydrangea ….. very unusual….. it’s blowing a bit of a gale here in Hertfordshire at the moment !! XXXX

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      And here too Jackie. Should quieten down a bit by the end of the week though. I hope so, it’ll give us a chance to clear up before the next onslaught!

  9. jenhumm116 November 30, 2015 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Whilst I understand your nostalgia for the summer gone (me too!) you must celebrate all that you’re achieved this year. And look forward to new plants establishing next year.
    I’ve always loved Echinops since growing up with a whopper, but have never grown one myself. Now where could I squeeze one in?

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      The bees love Echinops too. It’s a great plant to have, adds real structure to the border. I am pleased with how different the garden looks now and what a good base it is to develop from next year. There’s just so much more to do. Thanks Jen.

  10. Vera November 30, 2015 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Loved the vid, especially the end bit with the credits. You have done well with your garden this year…..I can only hope that I eventually find such enthusiasm to tackle our front garden, which is tiny in comparison to your garden, and is made even smaller now that Lester has ‘borrowed’ a chunk of it for the new chicken run!

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Well at least you won’t have to battle as hard with the slugs as I do.. chickens love them apparently. Yuk.

  11. CJ November 30, 2015 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    I was thinking the bank looks beautifully coloured and textured as well, you’re making a lovely job of it. Those roses and the faded hydrangea heads are gorgeous. I have a hydrangea petiolaris that has yet to flower properly, I shall look forward to some flowers like this when it does. Glad to see your conifers are hanging on in there. CJ xx

    • Jessica November 30, 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      The conifers are still swaying tonight! I can hear them. When your hydrangea flowers it will be a treat. Looking back at this year’s End of Month posts I notice ours still had the faded blooms in February. I cut them off just as the new leaves were pushing through, so it has something going on pretty well all year.

  12. sustainablemum November 30, 2015 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Those conifers aren’t going to last much longer being blown about like that, they have such shallow roots. I hope they are not going to do much damage if they do come down?

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      Shallow roots indeed. Two of these partially lifted themselves out of the ground a year or so back. We’d hoped they would have more time to settle back in. They still look OK today though, they are tied via ropes to one of the others. Thankfully we’ve now removed all the conifers close to the house, it feels much safer. These storms just serve to remind us why it needs to be done.

  13. homeslip November 30, 2015 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    We’ve got three 40 foot high conifers which will have to go one day but I keep telling myself they are not a priority. I think it is amazing how by removing one tree and the line of philadelphus you have opened up that fantastic view to the river and beyond. Great work in all weathers Jessica.

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sarah. There’s more work to be done clearing the lower part of that space but it does feel good so far. Something to look forward to for next year now.

  14. Frank December 1, 2015 at 12:01 am - Reply

    Ahhh, you’re talking of spring and I feel like we’ve barely stepped out of autumn!
    What a relief to have those trees gone in a wind like that, and the views are the icing on the cake 🙂

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      It’s a coping mechanism Frank, on my part!

  15. Beth @ PlantPostings December 1, 2015 at 2:26 am - Reply

    Oh, your video truly shows the power of the wind! Amazing. It sounds like our winters have been kind of similar so far–at least where temperature is concerned. We did have five inches of snow, but it’s all melted now and we’re hovering in the 0C to 7C range, with rain. Sometimes that feels colder than -6C, snow, and sunshine. Like your November image at the top, our landscape is very green and monochrome. But at least it isn’t gray or brown or white, like it usually would be around here this time of year. Happy (almost) December!

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      When we were in Norway we sat outside for lunch on a day when it registered -5C! But it was sunny, no wind, and with all my clothing layers and a blanket over my legs it felt OK! It’s so true though, on a much warmer day with no sun and a breeze it can feel bitterly cold.

  16. Kris P December 1, 2015 at 4:14 am - Reply

    Brave bird indeed! It’s a good thing those conifers are flexible!

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Isn’t it just. I guess that’s how they survive in places further north, and more exposed, than here.

  17. Pauline December 1, 2015 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Loved the video, hope your conifers survive.Do they get more wind now that you have cut your trees down, or were those on the other side? We do seem to have had more than our fair share of wind lately haven’t we, I hope it calms down soon, they say by the weekend it should be better, I hope they’re right!

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      I hope they’re right too! The trees we cut down were either side of the conifers. I suppose it depends which direction the wind comes from but it is something we’ve wondered ourselves. Having said that, two of those conifers lifted part way out of the ground a year or so back, before the tree felling. So they must have been quite vulnerable even then.

  18. Julie December 1, 2015 at 8:09 am - Reply

    We’ve had quite strong winds here too, at one point reaching 63mph. I watched the trees with a mixture of fascination and wonder but we do not have any as near the house as you, that would have been frightening. I’ve just read one of your replies about winches and ropes too but not sure if those are the ones now removed or you still have them there?

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      The trees that lifted are the two on the left of the conifer clump. They ended up with a 45 deg list and I was amazed they winched back up, but they did. They’re now secured with ropes to one of the other trees. Every time we have a storm I think they’ll succumb, but they’re still there! You can’t beat blue plastic marine rope. Even if it doesn’t look so pretty.. Link to a post about it is HERE

  19. Sue Garrett December 1, 2015 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Martyn’s weather station has recovered that this November has been the windiest month in the six years that he has been recording weather and also has had the strongest gusts. It has also been the wettest November we have had in those six years. There again it has also been the mildest.

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Interesting and it doesn’t surprise does it. I read on Twitter today that it’s also been the greyest November in 60 years. Something like 18.5 hours of sunshine… in the whole month! With 17 days of no sunshine at all.

  20. Joanne December 1, 2015 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Now it’s December I’d like to think the wind & rain would slow down a bit. I’d even welcome a bit of snow! Love the primroses I have some in my front garden & they always make me smile. You’ve had a busy year house & garden wise xx

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      I don’t remember seeing primroses quite as early as this before (or late?), but I could be wrong.

  21. woolythymes December 1, 2015 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    i come here to get my garden fix… backyard is full of lumber and ladders and all the stuff that used to be in our shed. I LOOKS AWFUL!!!!!! (our addition is snailing along.)

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      It always seems to go slowly at some stage. But it will be worth it, keep the faith. As long as you get the shed back before the snow?

  22. Jo December 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    A month definitely makes a difference. It’s been so windy, not just recently but earlier in the year too. I see Ptolemy doesn’t mind braving it though.

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      I felt for poor Ptolemy, he finds a tree to roost in as it gets dark. It couldn’t have been a comfortable night.

  23. Sheila December 1, 2015 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Our weather here has been quite good for November, and the first week of December is predicted to bring double digit temperatures. Quite unusual for our part of Southern Ontario. Every mild day is one less day of winter. I enjoyed looking at your photos, and envy you the prospect of snowdrops etc in the not too distant future.
    I especially love your photo of the hydrangea, beautiful even at the end of it’s life. A photo worthy of framing.

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sheila, I like that photo too and the hydrangea will stay like that for most of the winter, albeit battered a bit! Given how mild it’s been (here too) I wonder what effect it’ll have on the bulbs.

  24. frayed at the edge December 1, 2015 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    It had been wet and windy here, but fortunately we don’t have any big trees. Every time the rain goes off, Malcolm nips out to rake up the latest covering of leaves – not many more to go now!

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      The benefit of all the wind is that the leaves have all blown into the next county I reckon!

  25. snowbird December 1, 2015 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    I really am sick of the endless wind! My trees look like yours in the video. Your hard work is paying off, everything’s looking hunky

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks, long way to go but it’s coming on. Yep, I think we’ve had enough of the wind now. Someone else’s turn?

  26. Amy at love made my home December 1, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Sounds as though it has been quite wild!! We have a little rose similar to that that is still flowering, obviously a hardy variety!! xx

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      It’s in a very sheltered spot near the bottom of the bank, luckily for it!

  27. pagedogs December 1, 2015 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    One of the great pleasures of blogging is getting a peek into other lands, with their unique plants, people, buildings, politics, words, and expressions. When I read your post title, “Blowin’ a Hoolie,” I hadn’t a clue. Now, I have a new expression for my vocabulary. Winds have such extraordinary names. In Alaska, intense winds that really give the trees a beating like that are usually Chinooks (lovely name–and they brought warmer weather and snow melt). Here in Maine, intense gusts arise from Nor’Easters. And there are Zephyrs and Foehns–all winds, all different, and all with expressive names.

    On another note, I read lots of books by British authors when I was growing up and they often mentioned “secateurs” when talking about gardening. It’s not a word you hear in the U.S. I always envisioned some fantastical, bizarre garden tool of unknown usage. It was quite a letdown when I discovered they were pruning shears.

    Finally, that hydrangea photo is absolutely exquisite.

    • Jessica December 1, 2015 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      You’re right, different dialects make for really interesting words. Shears are so much easier to spell than secateurs, which I still have to look up each time I use it. Swings and roundabouts I guess, I’d rather have a tap than a faucet.. did I spell that right?!
      It may be ‘hooley’ rather than ‘hoolie’ I found both on google.. and predictive text doesn’t like either of them!

  28. Amy December 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Quite a video, Jessica! I haven’t seen trees blowing hard for a couple of years at least, and not because we don’t have wind here… 😛 I can’t believe you can winch such large trees effectively – glad it’s working! Your shots from the top of the Bank have finally made me realize how much you’ve opened out the view – that’ll be sooo lovely, especially come spring 🙂

    • Jessica December 3, 2015 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      There are quite a few young saplings growing in the lower part of the valley. The next step will be to thin those out as well, an easy enough job while they’re small. That will open it out even more.

  29. Angie December 2, 2015 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    The wind is best enjoyed from within!
    You must be so pleased at the transformation of the bank Jessica – I know I would be. The glimpse of those fields behind really draw you in don’t you think? Despite the winds it is hard to believe we are already into December and spring is on my mind too. Especially when we see those bulbs just popping through the surface.

    • Jessica December 3, 2015 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      The fields are more visible now that the leaves have dropped. The challenge will be to keep the openness in summer as well, without the loss of many more trees. It certainly feels less claustrophobic now.

  30. germac4 December 3, 2015 at 5:15 am - Reply

    Oh I love the name ”Blowin’ A Hoolie”…doesn’t that just describe a nasty wind like yours in the video! I really hate wind, we get hot winds in summer, and all the plants look exhausted by the time it dies down.
    Don’t forget how lovely your garden looked in June…it will come back around again…

    • Jessica December 3, 2015 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      It seems such a long way till next summer, but I know it will come eventually. In the meantime I’m looking at all your green trees and blooms with increasing envy!

  31. Cathy December 3, 2015 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Oh isn’t it good to have a phographic record, especially of major changes? When I accessed some early digital photos recently there were some stages the garden had gone through that I had all but forgotten about!

    • Jessica December 3, 2015 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      It is so useful. I’m sure if I didn’t have a blog I wouldn’t be nearly so diligent in recording all the changes in the garden. It’ll be a great thing to look back on in years to come.

  32. Julieanne December 3, 2015 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Definite hoolie blowing going on there. We had the same up in in Sheffield and it managed to break one of the trellis on a large planter. At least no plants were hurt. I love how much you can see now that all that work cutting down trees has been finished. It is worth it for the view, and the bank will fill up again in no time.

    • Jessica December 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      I hope you can fix the trellis. Hopefully by next year the bank will look a little better, I’ll have had another Spring and Summer to add to the planting. More contrast to the colours in the foliage I think.

  33. Caro December 7, 2015 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    I had to drive down to the Hampshire coast in those winds last weekend, it made for a very interesting drive, being buffeted all the way down. If you get some frost, your bank will look lovely but perhaps it’s too mild where you are? I had similar thoughts when tidying the garden at the end of last week and decided I needed to investigate some more evergreen plants to relieve the soggy browns of winter – or a nice crisp bright winter’s day would perk things up but perhaps that’s going to be a tall order this year!

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      We’re quite a way from the coast, plus the valley forms a bit of a frost pocket so we do indeed get frosts. It’s most probably milder where you are in London. The first forecasts I saw suggested that this winter is going to be very cold. But it looks to be going down the mild/stormy route so far doesn’t it?

  34. Donna@Gardens Eye View December 19, 2015 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    It has been gray and rainy and warm here and I have a few surprises in my garden…but nothing like yours. I do like the greens in the top picture like a quilt of many shades of green.

    • Jessica December 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      Much the same here Donna. We rarely get snow this early in the season, but the landscape looks far greener than I remember it before.

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