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When taking on a completely overgrown garden what do you do?


1. Panic/Contemplate giving the place back/Drink wine/Bury your head under the duvet/*tick as appropriate


2. Break it all down into manageable sized chunks. And start with the bits that you see the most. It may not be the most earth shattering of strategies but it will do for now.

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Green: The terraces, overhauled in 2014 and now ‘doable’ in an afternoon a month.

Yellow: The Precipitous Bank, overhauled in 2015. Hopefully needing less time and effort as the year goes on, enabling me to move on to pastures new..

Red: The upcoming challenge. Sponsored by makers of crampons the whole world over. Kidding.


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In the red zone things start to get a bit iffy.


Twice before this area has been tidy. Firstly when the inherited conifers all came down and then again a couple of years later when it was subject to one of my blitzes. Now, once again, it stands in testament to just what happens when you take your eye off the ball. It needs an incentive to keep me focused. A means of being regularly called to account.


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On the plus side there are some nice shrubs in there. The vase shape at far left belongs to a Cornus kousa. Next to it is Magnolia sieboldii. And beyond that a crab apple tree, somehow still managing to cling on to life having been incarcerated by all those conifers over 50′ high.

As ever, it’s far from straightforward. The trees and shrubs will provide some height, but they won’t be allowed to get much taller. And nothing else of a lofty nature will be planted here unless it is virtually transparent. I added some Verbena bonariensis a couple of years ago and that works well. My problem is the house windows, which look to be at ground level in these shots. It’s difficult to tell from the camera position but those first floor windows actually sit below ground level, looking out into the ‘well’ created by the steep bank. I don’t need to be depriving them of any more light. Imagine how dark it was inside the house when the conifers grew there.

Alongside the ‘well’ the bank drops sharply over the vertical. It’s about 15 feet down with concrete at the bottom, as Mike’s ribs have previously discovered to their cost. I can lean so far over the edge to remove nettles and brambles.. but the earth does tend to slip. It needs dry conditions to give the gardener a fighting chance. Ho Ho.

Still too easy? Then lets add a stretch target.


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My fine patch of brambles. Just a little further up the hill.

And when I’ve been stretched so far that all the pips are squeaking?


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There’s always that chunk of woodland at the top of the slope…


Relying on Helen at The Patient Gardener to keep me on the rails for another year, c/o of The End of Month View.

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