Into The Red


The bank 046 Wm[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=


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.

Garden map 2 Wm[1]

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.


The bank 043 Wm[1]


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.


The bank 044 Wm[1]


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.


The bank 045 Wm[1]


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?


The bank 047 Wm[1]


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.

On the last day of each month I will report back. Click through to find out what other bloggers will be up to, or why not join in too? It really does keep you on your toes.


2017-10-24T19:32:42+00:00January 31st, 2016|Tags: |


  1. Piddlewick January 31, 2016 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Phew! I don’t feel so overwhelmed by our garden now. Actually, I only have to take care of the veg garden part. I don’t know if it helps, but Pumpjack found this online planner for me that I love to use It has really helped me, particularly with plannng forward.

    Thanks for the link to the Patient Gardener. Great stuff!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      That looks very whizzy.. I shall have a play around with it, thanks for the link!

  2. annincumbria January 31, 2016 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Flipping heck no wonder you coloured it red, good luck ????????

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 5:17 pm - Reply

      It’s easy to dream up these things when it’s raining and you can’t get out.. hope all’s well up there.

  3. kate@barnhouse January 31, 2016 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the explanatory plan and photos, they certainly put your amazing plot and the inherent challenges into perspective. Turning this sort of area into a tamed garden is such a challenging prospect. I’m sure you will find a brilliant solution and that it will look great too. My first thought is controlling the succession of colonising ‘weeds’ on the area you’ve laboriously cleared (twice) which I’m guessing would be brambles …? Can you fence off the relevant flattish patch off and borrow a couple of pigs for a couple of weeks to deal with the existing brambles? Bravo, you!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      Brambles and some grasses too. There is a large patch of bright green shoots which I attribute to a casually placed Briza media that I didn’t have an alternative home for. But most of the weeds are just the usual dandelions, thistles and bittercress. This year I am determined to have them all out before they seed. The bramble patch isn’t as flat as it appears unfortunately!

  4. Marian St.Clair January 31, 2016 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    While working intensively in some parts of my garden, I’m taking the slow track in the woodland area, encouraging the return of natives with “addition by subtraction.” Removing invasive plants, like ivy, and unwanted plants, like brambles, has allowed other species to thrive. Wild ginger (Hexastylis), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum), and several types of ferns have seemingly popped up out of nowhere and bloodroot (Sanguinaria) and trilliums are spreading. Your plans for “red” are more ambitious, but it’s something to consider for the wilder parts of the landscape.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      When it gets to the wood I’m not intending to completely clear it. There’s already a lot of Solomon’s seal and many bulbs, snowdrops and bluebells etc. Your approach sounds spot on. I will undoubtedly be unable to resist the temptation to add more ornamental woodland species, that includes trilliums for me, but it needs to be naturalistic to blend into the wilder woodland all around it.

  5. Backlane Notebook January 31, 2016 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Phew from me too. I’ve been glaring at the weather knowing there are tasks to do on the allotment but it’s too cold and wet. But these by comparison to your project are much smaller jobs (lifting old rasps and making a new raspberry bed) and without the risk of slipping 5 ft down onto concrete. Have you considered covering that area with tarpaulin for a couple of months then folding it back in May to work on segments? Then I would be tempted to use low-growing ground cover and top of my list would be Euphorbia robbiae for evergreen with emerging lime green flowers in January. Vinca would be another good ground cover with its white flowers in January as would Geranium maccrorhizum again evergreen. Incidentally I could pot up 9 x E.robbiae and 9 x G. macrorhizum (with a few weeks warning) if you were ever heading to Bristol since I am constantly giving these away. Good luck and yes I agree a public commitment works wonders for keeping one on track and rising to the challenge.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      A tarpaulin would be difficult on account of the trees and shrubs already in there that I want to keep. I think hand weeding it is the only way unfortunately. But one of the things I have learnt from elsewhere in the garden is that newly cleared areas need to be planted up, and quickly. I love your suggestions for ground cover, especially those that flower in January. Vinca would spread itself down the vertical slope of the bank too, which would be lovely to look at from the windows.

  6. Helen Johnstone January 31, 2016 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Well that makes my front garden project seem quite easy. I feel I need to get in now or I will see your progress and be cross with myself for not doing anything!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 5:48 pm - Reply

      Helen, fear not, you’ve got ages! Until the ground dries out I won’t be doing anything. At the moment the soil won’t even support my weight!

  7. Henriet from Holland January 31, 2016 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    Your awful/awesome slope reminds me of the vineyards along the Moselle in Germany, where they have a clever cable system to make work possible on 45 degree slopes. You may need to tie yourself to one of those trees at the top! Somehow I am pretty sure that you will succeed, but oh, please don’t fall, for your own sake and for your admiring readers!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      Yes, I could do with one of those systems! In previous areas I have dug footholds into the bank which helps a lot. The most difficult bit has been removing the bramble roots, a hard enough job in itself without the slope. I’ve had some success with just continually cutting them back and eventually weakening the plant. But I’ve also got some stuff that spreads on to the leaves, hopefully that will speed up the process a bit.

  8. Chloris January 31, 2016 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    i thought at first that you meant you would be in the red after completing this latest area. Any new project I have in the garden always seems to be terribly expensive; just an excuse to buy more plants. You have quite a challenge on hand there, but do admit, you love a challenge. How boring if the garden was finished. You’d have to start it all over again.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      Or move!
      It is expensive. Given the space to cover I’ve been trying to propagate as many plants as I can and as I’ve now been at it three years some of the early perennials are big enough to divide. That will help a lot too.

  9. Sarah January 31, 2016 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica – thanks for making me feel so much better about my four 40 foot conifers (planning app. pending), not to mention the tulip tree (permission granted to thin the branches by 20% and clear the cottage by 1.5m), the blighted box, the honey fungus, the out of control boundary hedge, the steepish bank which borders the lane and more …One step at a time. I feel we’ve already climbed a mountain with the inside, the outside should be more of a work in progress. I’ll enjoy watching yours this year and like you I won’t be gardening in flip flops anymore.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      Just remember it doesn’t all need to be done at once. Prioritise an area and get that right before you move on. And as you said in your post, it really is worth waiting a few months to see what comes up, you may find there are things you want to keep exactly as they are.

  10. Pauline January 31, 2016 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Yes, climbing lessons certainly needed for the red area! I can’t imagine how you are going to do it all, but I’m sure you will do something beautiful, good luck!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      I don’t imagine I will do it all, but it’s something to aim for. The first bit should be relatively easy, it’s the bramble patch that will take some graft!

  11. Pauline January 31, 2016 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    I’ve just had a thought – Absailing!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      Yay! Perhaps I could get the guys at St Michael’s Mount to give me lessons.

  12. Janet/Plantaliscious January 31, 2016 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Well, you certainly enjoy a challenge!! And that looks very challenging… Love the overview pic, helps put all your adventures into perspective. I will watch your progress with great interest. Like Helen, I feel I should!d head outside despite the rain to impose more order on my own neglected borders. The Alexanders are taking over, and they are nearly as harde to dig out as dandelions, but at least I don’t need crampons, ropes, abseiling equipment and a hard hat!!! Good luck.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      Someone gave me a pink hard hat in a former life, it’s a great shame it didn’t make the cut when we moved here.

  13. cherylwest2015 January 31, 2016 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    Could you borrow some goats as a starter? That is quite a challenge and I am sure you will make a good plan. Is it cost prohibitive to terrace this area so you would not have the problem of another steep garden? Take care and best of luck.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      It would be cost prohibitive, but the most immediate problem would be all the tree roots. Even where it looks clear there are many of the old conifer rootballs buried in the soil. Removing them would most likely cause more problems than it would solve. Shame really, because the terraces on the other side of the house are really easy to manage.

  14. Freda January 31, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    I expect you already have the excellent Rejuvenating A Garden by Stephen Anderton? And Beth Chatto’s Woodland Garden? You will be writing your own soon Jessica – wonderful brave stuff! Good luck with this next phase.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      I have Beth’s book and will investigate Stephen’s.. it sounds right up my street. Thanks Freda.

  15. Christina January 31, 2016 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, oh my, what a new challenge you have set for yourself! Great that you draw a plan of your property. It gives such a good overview over the layout of your land. I wonder how big in terms of square feet is the new garden area that you would like to tackle? I love the last photo of the woodland part. I think it looks already perfect as it is. So romantic and it fits so well to your cottage.
    As always I am looking forward to your future posts about the area that you have chosen for the End of Month View challenge!
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      I am hopeless with estimating area.. I would guess about 40 feet x 20 feet, plus the woodland. The woodland looks good at the moment as the perennial weeds have died down. There are also (too many) Spanish bluebells in there. The english natives would be far better.

  16. Vera January 31, 2016 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Crikey, what a project! But I am sure you will win through. We did once make a plan of how we wanted the veg plots to look in the back field, but it came to nowt once we got the pigs and their paddocks installed! Instead of circular sweeping beds of veg, we now have four oblong and fenced paddocks, with two more which are the home patch for the pigs. They share the other four paddocks with us. Not at the same time of course. Just when we want the land cleared. Looking forward to seeing how you get on this year with your patch……

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      I’ve watched pigs clear a field full of brambles and very efficient they are too. I think this patch is probably too steep. Plus it would be difficult to keep them contained. There are already enough characters about with designs on my plants!

  17. Denise January 31, 2016 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Like Cheryl, my immediate thoughts were ‘goats!’ Then I thought ‘concrete’ (it’s grey!) and then I thought ‘Astroturf’ and then I thought , ‘Shut up, Denise, because Jessica is a ‘can do’ person and she will sort it out!’ Looking forward to seeing work on the red zone.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      Big day today Denise, nine new F&B colours added to the range. You should see ‘Drop Cloth’, just gorgeous. Creamy grey.

  18. Sue Garrett January 31, 2016 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    A mammoth task I look forward to seeing what you have planned. The plan is really helpful in seeing your garden as a whole entity.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Now that I’ve marked out areas of the plan I see it is totally out of scale, but it will do for the moment. It makes the patch I’ve chosen to do a lot bigger than it really is.

  19. Charlie@Seattle Trekker January 31, 2016 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    I would have started with the wine and moved to the drawing, but I did find your approach very instructive. It is worth saying out loud that what you show is a task that would easily keep several gardeners quite busy.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      I do have a couple of chaps to call on if the going gets really rough. Or I could just leave some of it until next year!

  20. Sol January 31, 2016 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    looks like lots of work, but with what you have already done it is going to look amazing!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      I just need the weather to let up so I can get started. It’s a quagmire up there at the moment. Thanks Sol.

  21. Amy at love made my home January 31, 2016 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    It will be a big job, but one that you will do well and will tackle with gusto I am sure! I look forward to seeing how it progresses. I think that is great that you have broken things down into different areas and are tackling them in a logical way rather than scattering from here to there, I am sure that it will give better results in the long run. xx

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      It’s the only way that works for me, at least one area of the garden is always looking OK never mind what the rest is doing! Thanks Amy.

  22. CJ January 31, 2016 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    LOVE that last shot, how beautifully your cottage is nestled into the landscape. I can see how tricky it must be to manage the slope though. But I have great faith in you both. Just make sure you stay safe though! CJ xx

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      If I just do a bit a day it will get done. Working on the slope is very tiring… that I have learnt! Thanks CJ.

  23. Donna@Gardens Eye View January 31, 2016 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    Looking forward to hearing about your plans here. Love the drawing and it gives me an idea of how to approach my redos and garden work!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      It’s juggling time between working on a new area and maintaining the bits I’ve done previously. The further I progress round the garden the harder it gets!

  24. kristinrusso January 31, 2016 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    Great pictures and great plan! It does seem that there’s always something, doesn’t it? I had hoped to carve out enough pond to have a skating rink this winter, but I had to stop shoveling muck in early November because the frogs had hibernated, so I’ll have to continue work on it next summer. I did go out on my skates once on the spot that I had cleared, and it was tons of fun, but the weather has been too warm for it to stay frozen solid, so now I don’t feel bad that I didn’t finish in time. Another area where I had tossed a pile of rotted logs now seems like an excellent place for a shady rock garden, so I see more rotted log tossing in my future. It’s an addictive process, to be sure! Good luck getting through the rest of the winter. Spring is surely just around the bend. 🙂

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Kristin. A woodland is such a fun place to work. I like your idea for a shady rock garden, we have plenty of rotting logs too! Shame about the skating rink. But think how you’d have felt if you put all the work in and it never froze. Next year..

  25. Diana Studer January 31, 2016 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    just seen a polite ’84 steps’
    that, is daunting too!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      Cheaper than a gym!

  26. Island Threads January 31, 2016 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    my eye is most taken with the amount of moss on the trees, thinking about it there is no moss high on trees or even tall poles here, I suppose the wind blows it off before it gets a hold, I not only know about clearing and re-clearing areas I have experience of it, is it the same weeds or different weeds? looking at the positive how lovely to find shrubs and a crap apple, oh I wish, as you don’t want to block the light are you thinking of just ground cover plants? just thought, any old mattresses you can line the concrete with!!! you need to fix a rock climbers rope and gadgets (sorry do not know proper name) to lower and raise yourself at your own pace,
    GQT told a lady with a garden full of bramble under trees to cut them down and then get loads of cardboard and cover the ground with several layers, you are one person I think who, like me will think wow she has an easy garden, it simply wouldn’t work on a slope like this, same as for me no matter how many stones I put on it, it disintegrates in the rain and blows away with the wind,
    good luck Jessica, look forward to seeing your progress, at least you have managed to accomplish something each month, Frances

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      The moss just goes to show how wet it has been. Further down the slope there are even ferns growing straight up off the branches, several feet up in the air. It’s the same weeds and different. It seems that as soon as I clear an area something else blows in and re-colonises it. I will mostly go for ground cover, with some intermediate height shrubs and perennials to make it all look a bit more integrated to the taller stuff.

      • Island Threads February 2, 2016 at 6:56 pm - Reply

        moss = wet + shade + poor air circulation, does it dry out in summer? it does give you a good indication of the micro climate and suitable plants to look for,

        I have the same problem with weeds, I also think that when land has not been worked at all, in my garden and only slightly, long ago, in your garden, that there is a weed seed bank in the ground which germinates when we remove the growing weeds and disturb the soil, that was another reason given for the ‘cover it in cardboard’ idea, as you would not be disturbing the ground and under the cardboard it remains dark less seeds germinate, she was told to plant through it and if she doesn’t want to see the cardboard to put a mulch on top, Frances

        • Jessica February 2, 2016 at 7:37 pm - Reply

          After they’d seasoned a bit I used all the chippings from the conifers as a mulch thinking that would put a stop to the seedlings. It worked for some but the grasses and brambles push up regardless. Some sort of proper weed suppressing membrane underneath the chippings would have worked better. On an area this size though that would be expensive.
          The moss sometimes dries out in the summer, but we usually get so much rain that mostly the shady side of the trunk stays green.

          • welshhillsagain February 4, 2016 at 10:39 pm

            I very much recognise what island threads says about land which had not been gardened holding its own seedbank. Our land is simply longing to go back to rough meadow and that is what it does as soon as you turn your back. I like the plan of adding by subtracting. Certainly one of my big learning curves here has been finding that things which ought to like my soil etc often don’t thrive. What thrives thrives very intensively so I am refining what I grow. I think the garden is the better for it but it’s been a painful lesson. Your challenge is huge but I am sure you will get there. Your determination is amazing!

          • Jessica February 5, 2016 at 7:17 pm

            Very much my experience too. I no longer buy multiples of something new, but just one or two specimens until the species has proved itself. As you say, if they decide to grow they don’t hold back.. it must be all the rain. Guide heights printed on labels are useless, I usually need to add at least 50% to get close.

  27. CherryPie February 1, 2016 at 12:05 am - Reply

    I love the diagram plan of your garden. I can now visualise your projects in the context of where they are in your garden 🙂

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. It makes me feel quite organised, even if the reality is different!

  28. germac4 February 1, 2016 at 3:14 am - Reply

    Yes, I like the diagram too….as for that amazing sloping bit of garden, well you will never have to resort to a gym to keep fit!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      No, no need for a gym. Although with the weather being so bad at the moment I might have to rethink it!

  29. Kris P February 1, 2016 at 4:06 am - Reply

    And here I thought that the precipitous bank was bad enough! When I look at my own upper slope, my only plan is to win the lottery so I can afford to hire contractors to terrace it. That would be so lovely! Then I turn a blind eye and walk away to easier projects. I will watch your project’s progress with bated breath!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      Winning the lottery is a definite part of the plan here too. Oh to wave a magic wand and get someone in to do all the hard work!

  30. Beth @ PlantPostings February 1, 2016 at 5:00 am - Reply

    I’m approaching some of the “wild” areas in my garden in a similar way to Marian. It’s amazing what beautiful wildflowers pop up after removing invasives and clearing a path through, with other simple adjustments. I do have one patch, though, that needs some attention–it’s too planned to be a natural woodland, but too unruly to be anything but messy. Your diagrams are so impressive!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      It’s much the same here Beth and I’m sure it’s the right way forward. Although there will surely be areas with very few wildflowers left after I’ve dealt with all the brambles.

  31. Christina February 1, 2016 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Seeing RED; please be careful Jessica, that really does look like extreme gardening!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      It is. The couple who lived here before us were in their late eighties. I can quite understand how it became beyond them.

  32. sustainablemum February 1, 2016 at 9:08 am - Reply

    That will make for an interesting project me thinks. I hope it doesn’t leave you seeing red or any more broken bones. Look forward to the end of each month……….

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      I badly need the weather to play ball. It’s not something I can tackle if the ground is wet. Here’s hoping..

  33. Jess February 1, 2016 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Our garden is very overgrown and difficult to manage but I’ll take your advice of tackling one area at a time. It’s the only way isn’t it?! Your cottage looks so magical nestled there among the trees. xx

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Jess and welcome!
      I do think it’s the only way. But it does take a good couple of years before each area is properly tamed so we do need to keep on top of it until that happens. Good luck with your garden. It’s very satisfying seeing order emerge from the chaos!

  34. emilymbrown13 February 1, 2016 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Blimey – I would be inclined to tick drink wine and bury my head in the sand, label it ‘Indigenous zone’ and work out a bit of eco self justification over a glass of red! Good luck.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      There is plenty of eco self justification going on, believe me! The farther from the house the more natural it will be. Partly because it will be better that way and partly because it will knacker me to do any more.

  35. derrickjknight February 1, 2016 at 10:24 am - Reply

    What a challenge. Makes ours look simple

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      I like a challenge. At least I like a challenge at the planning stage. Less so in the doing!

  36. Sam February 1, 2016 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Goodness, I can see why you tackled the other parts first..! Your opening para had me smiling – I did all four of your number 1 when we moved here. Gardening on such a steep slope must prove very tricky indeed. Our plot is on a slope but it was terraced back in the day, for which I am extremely grateful, and it’s smaller than yours. Is there anything you could do, in terms of landscaping, that would make it easier to manage? I know big earthworks cost a shed-load of money but I wonder whether there is anything you can do on a smaller scale. I’m sure you’ve already thought of the options, though. It’s a shame we’re not geographically closer as I’d offer to come and give you a hand. I’ll echo what many above have already said – please take care. No more broken toes (or worse) please. It’s great to have your blog to motivate you into action (mine does too) and we all have the benefit of being able to admire your efforts and lovely results 🙂

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:44 pm - Reply

      Terracing is a real boon on a slope. There are other areas of the garden where it might work, assuming we can get the earth moving equipment down the hill, but for this bit it’s not really an option. There are too many tree roots, both visible and hidden. It will have to stay as it is, but given that it’s woodland edge it will probably look more natural that way.

  37. pagedogs February 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    All I can say is, “good luck,” and pour another glass of wine.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      It’s the thought of the glass of wine that often keeps me going..

  38. Jacqueline February 1, 2016 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Drink wine seems like a good idea Jessica !!!!! haha
    You have so much to do in your garden but that’s a good thing ……. it’s lovely to have a project .. something to achieve and, when you finish one part, how lovely to see what you have managed to do and how lovely it looks. Gardening is an ongoing thing and that’s what I love about it { although, I’m not sure if I could have taken on your garden but I’m a lot older than you !!!! } It really is a pleasure to see you undertake all of the things that you do, tackle such difficult tasks and to see the end results. All I can say is ‘ good job ‘ …. you should both be very proud of what you have achieved. XXXX

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      To be honest, if I knew what I was taking on I don’t think I’d have done it either!

  39. Brian Skeys February 1, 2016 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    That is a chalaging slope, do you mean there is a 15ft drop over the edge by the house? I await with interest to see it develop, perhaps you should have a safety net!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      Yes, the bank ends at about the same level as the underside of the roof and then drops straight down. It is full of ferns and brambles. We cut the brambles back each year hoping that they’ll eventually give up. If I can get the vertical surface to be just ferns I’ll leave it at that. It doesn’t need anything else, it would be too shady for much else to grow anyhow.

  40. Sarah Shoesmith February 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Crikey, I think Jacqueline’s suggestion of wine is spot on, but not before you scale your garden heights. There must be explorers out there who have your garden on their must-climb list. Don’t let them attempt the climb without secateurs and a hoe.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      Ah-ha.. a revenue earning opportunity. Climbing wall for the use of, must bring own crampons. Hoe and secateurs provided.

  41. LINDA from EACH LITTLE WORLD February 1, 2016 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    As you have wisely said, a chunk at a time is the only way to go. On such a steep slope I imagine you need to keep things growing to stabilize it as you replant other areas. I am in the process of doing a drawing and making a plan for an area of our garden that lost a tree and is too high-maintenance. So I am on the same page as you, but my space is flat which makes it safer if a bit more boring.

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      Keeping it stable is a real problem. The brambles etc are doing a job there. Digging them out causes erosion and so does any subsequent rain. I notice that after this winter’s storms the Precipitous Bank has a pile of earth collecting at the foot. It will be easy enough to scoop it all up and take it back to the top. But re-planting is the key. The sooner the better.

  42. sweetbriardreams February 1, 2016 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    Wow, that’s pretty steep. You’d need rope to help you get up to the summit! I don’t envy you, but I can remember my old cottage and my neighbours had an acre of step hillside which was always full of neat vegetables and flowers. They used railway sleepers to section each bit off so it ended up as deep steps full of different produce. Unbelievable commitment!

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      That is the way to go if you can and possibly the only way for vegetables. But I agree, incredibly hard work. On a smaller scale we built raised beds for veggies.. they are raised via sleepers about a metre at the front, zero at the back and they’re only four foot wide!

  43. Sarah February 1, 2016 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Your garden looks hug from your map and the steepness still carries on upwards! Your have another challenge in 2015! I know that you will create another special garden here! Sarah x

    • Jessica February 1, 2016 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      It’s going some, this one. But I will do my best. After a while you just get fed up of looking at a wilderness all the time.

  44. Cathy February 2, 2016 at 10:45 am - Reply

    It makes me wonder how many people were put off buying the cottage because of the precipitous bank, 84 steps, upcoming challenge et al… No doubt we will be entertained at the end of every month by your exploits to tame the latter…

    • Jessica February 2, 2016 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      It’s a very different property now to what it was, but there’s still an awful lot to do. Saves me getting bored eh?

  45. Wendy February 2, 2016 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    I’m loving reading where you are with your garden, Jessica – and I can’t wait to see it in Spring/Summer when everything comes into bloom. The bank is as steep as I remember it – it certainly calls for a special kind of gardening! And as for that wine – I think you will have definitely earned a glass after completing each of chunk of work (two glasses for the red zone!)

    • Jessica February 3, 2016 at 8:23 am - Reply

      Hi Wendy! Great to see you back to blogging, you’ve been missed.
      Two glasses of wine sounds a very good idea. It will help me forget about the muscle pain if nothing else.

  46. Jill Anderson February 3, 2016 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Tackling the bits that you see most is a good strategy! We had a bank (though not on this scale) at our last house, and eventually after planting with shrubs it choked out all the weeds & needed minimal work. Look forward to seeing your progress!

    • Jessica February 4, 2016 at 10:14 am - Reply

      Thanks Jill. I was hoping that the shrubs would work. I will choose low growing ones and intersperse with perennials to get maximum variety.

  47. Rick Nelson February 3, 2016 at 10:00 am - Reply

    After looking at your project from all angles rd all I can say is the best of luck with it 🙂 If it was me I would still consider putting at least some terracing into the bank, it doesn’t have to be formal just a couple of lazy curves maybe to give you something to work off, it could still have a natural feel.

    • Jessica February 4, 2016 at 10:16 am - Reply

      Thinking about it again, even with the tree roots I could create some shallow terraces by bringing soil in and building it up. It would need a lot of soil though..

  48. Indie February 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    I’m impressed with your drawing and planning! (I am much less organized – and much less artistically talented.) That is an impressive slope! Crampons, indeed! Good luck, and I can’t wait to see what you do!

    • Jessica February 4, 2016 at 10:18 am - Reply

      I’m not at all sure I’m artistically talented. If you saw the site for real you probably wouldn’t recognise it.. now I come to look at it again the scale is all wrong!

  49. annie_h February 3, 2016 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    Wow that is definitely a challenge, what a steep bank. It will great to see what you do so look forward to following your progress over the coming months. Good luck!

    • Jessica February 4, 2016 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Thanks, I will need it. I didn’t realise before we moved here just how exhausting working on a steep slope can be.

  50. Dorothy @ The Nature of Things February 4, 2016 at 12:06 am - Reply

    Very wise of you to break everything down into manageable chunks. I think you’ve got it all under control!

    • Jessica February 4, 2016 at 10:35 am - Reply

      I wish!!

  51. Helene February 4, 2016 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Oh my, one thing is for sure, you need to be really physically fit to work in your garden! I am glad I am on one level in mine, I just could not have coped with the sheer up and down, never mind actually doing some work in the middle of all that. Good luck with all the work, having the rest of your garden in mind I am sure it will look great once you have conquered the red area!

    • Jessica February 4, 2016 at 10:37 am - Reply

      It’s certainly not a place I can garden forever. That’s part of the reason I want to press on with it, I’m not getting any younger.

  52. Anna February 4, 2016 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I’m getting dizzy just looking Jessica! Good luck with the next phase. Can you approach the woodland area from the top? I can envisage a sea of snowdrops.

    • Jessica February 4, 2016 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      Definitely snowdrops. I shall be transplanting some this year into just that very area.

  53. Jo February 4, 2016 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    I’m sure you’d be bored wtihout all these tasks giving you plenty to keep you occupied. Do take care, it looks very steep.

    • Jessica February 4, 2016 at 12:55 pm - Reply

      I’ll just be glad to get started on it Jo, when the weather gives me a break. It’s far too wet at the moment.

  54. Peter/Outlaw February 5, 2016 at 12:36 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness. Your home and garden are beautiful but I don’t envy you your precipitous bank! Good for you for taking this on. Here’s wishing you firm footing!

    • Jessica February 5, 2016 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      It was a bit foolhardy in retrospect. Far more work than I ever imagined.

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