Limbering Up


Geum 'Totally Tangerine' 004 Wm


Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’


It’s astonishing the difference a few degrees rise in temperature makes. Seeds in the greenhouse are germinating left right and centre, after several fruitless attempts earlier on in the season. The garden has shifted from second gear into third. Buds pop open almost as I watch. The gardener, under pressure from all sides, has had her feet up. Well.. mostly.


Outhouses 002 Wm


I give you Exhibit A: a small and, so we thought, self contained little project on a flat(ish) bit of ground. Perfect for getting back into the swing of things?


This area has looked a mess for all the time we’ve been here. It’s not as if it’s a hidden away little corner either. No, it’s the view from one of the kitchen windows, not to mention the part of the garden we pass through on each and every trip up the 84 steps and into the outside world. It used to contain two very large hydrangeas which encroached so far onto the path in front of the border as to render the route virtually impassable. As an adjunct to the Great Rhododendron Shifting Project back in March the winch became attached to each of the hydrangeas and they too were hauled off up the hill.


Outhouses 003 Wm


Over the last couple of weeks we’ve cleared the worst of the remaining vegetation and given the honeysuckle over the ‘rustic’ leaning pergola a much needed trim. Mike has removed the dilapidated trellis from the outhouse wall, patiently scraped away at the old, flaking white paint on the stonework and spruced up the pointing.


Outhouses 005 Wm


After much deliberation, it must have been all of a nanosecond, I was persuaded that a trip to the garden centre would be necessary for the purchase of plants. The border will have a basically bronze theme with highlights of blue and a splash of white to lift it. Except that the white, I now discover, may inadvertently also bear a splash of pink (note to self: reading glasses are now mandatory for garden centre trips). Still, Rose ‘Desdemona’ comes bearing buds so it shouldn’t be too long a wait to see just how much she jars.

The climber on the smart new trellis is Clematis alpina ‘Frances Rivis’, looking and no doubt feeling a tad bruised after my tortuous attempt to disentangle her stems. I’ve decided to add a second to provide a more generous covering of green. Next May, once mature, they should bear delicate blue blooms, the highlight of the border before the perennials and the roses take over later in the season.  To the left the exotic lush leaves belong to the Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae. They’ve been grown from seed and must now be about four years old. Too young to bloom just yet, but a spell in the garden over summer will no doubt help the cause. They’re planted in their pots. In autumn I’ll just lift them out and return them to the greenhouse for the winter.


Clematis alpina 'Frances Rivis' 001 Wm


Clematis alpina ‘Frances Rivis’


Iris 'Gerald Darby' 001 Wm


Iris ‘Gerald Darby’


Also in there, another rose, ‘Hot Chocolate’, first discovered on Helen’s blog The Patient Gardener a week or so back and prompting an immediate search. Plus a couple of grasses: Chasmanthium latifolium, Northern Sea Oats, the seed heads turning bronze as they mature and Uncinia rubra, divided into three from an existing large clump.




So was it the easy, self contained job that we thought it would be? Are they ever? Such a joy to observe the newly planted border from the kitchen window with all of the bounty to come. Less than pleasing to find that we have also opened up a splendid view of the dustbins.

There is a plan. Of course there is. Another job to add to the list. Doh.


2017-10-27T09:35:39+00:00May 9th, 2016|Tags: |


  1. Mark and Gaz May 9, 2016 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    What a difference a spell of good weather makes, so much was done!

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      Long may it last, on both counts!

  2. kate@barnhouse May 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Lovely choices for brightening up the ‘little house’ wall as seen from one of the kitchen windows alongside a busy path.Having so wisely limbered up, I hope you’re back on track soon. Perhaps extreme gardening should be noted as a dangerous sport?

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      Best that we stay under the radar. Think of the health and safety implications! Thanks Kate 🙂

  3. annincumbria May 9, 2016 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Where would we be without “the plan”

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      Indeed. Even if it’s a different plan day by day.

  4. Rosie May 9, 2016 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Your newly spruced up area will be a delight to see from your kitchen window and worth all the hard work. The weather has brought everything on in leaps and bounds:)

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      I can’t believe the difference in just a couple of weeks. It’s felt like summer today.

  5. Christina May 9, 2016 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Looks great and you’ll soon find something to hide the dustbins! Love your plant choices.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      I was a bit restricted by what was available, but there are still some gaps which I can fill as I find just the right things over the summer. I shall put some Californian poppies in there too.

  6. FlowerAlley May 9, 2016 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Exciting improvements. Don’t over do it on the foot.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      It’s telling me when I’ve overdone it. In no uncertain terms.

  7. ginaferrari May 9, 2016 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    The garedder here has her feet up too and is feeling frustrated watching the weeds take over the garden! Your garden looks lovely!

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Gina, I do hope you’ll be more mobile soon. I can totally understand your frustration. I’m watching the weeds slowly colonise the bit I cleared only a month ago.

  8. Denise May 9, 2016 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    What a cute little corner! Looking forward to seeing how it fills up over the year. And I hope the ankle is recovering well so you can get back to Full and Top Gardener Mode soon.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Denise. Possibly the problem is that I see myself in Full Gardener mode already. At least that’s what I’m told.

  9. Anna May 9, 2016 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    The rise in temperature certainly moves things on apace Jessica. The same seeds sown in April that took nearly three weeks to germinate in April took all of five days in May! Reading glasses are also a must for me for garden centre trips, shopping and museum visiting. Anything where labels prevail. Enjoy playing in and planting up that new patch of earth.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Sadly I have to admit that squinting is no longer sufficient, even in bright light out of doors. Sigh.

  10. Jennifer May 9, 2016 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    I love it. I think it’s adorable and I think you have wonderful ideas for it. Gosh, your land just never ceases to amaze me. There is so much to see and it’s all fascinating to see and read about. I know it’s a lot of work too, and I admire you for tackling it all.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jennifer. The really scary bit is what you don’t see!

  11. Ann @Ann Edwards Photography May 9, 2016 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    looks like a lovely little area for yet another project. I love the Geum which is a great little cut flower.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:37 pm - Reply

      I hadn’t thought of using geum as a cut flower. Totally Tangerine would be a great one to use if it lasts well in a vase, it has a longer stem than some.

  12. wherefivevalleysmeet May 9, 2016 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    You really are a hard working pair, but you must feel so happy with the improvements you have made to that area. You make my little efforts in the garden look very tame in comparison.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      You’ll have put a lot of work into establishing your garden Rosemary, it certainly looks like it!

  13. Vera May 9, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    I so admire your ability to plan the planting in your garden, where as I have a more random attitude, unless the plant tells me where it wants to go (which can sometimes happen). Your garden is coming on, and must surely give you such a sense of achievement as you see it maturing.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      There is a fair degree of randomness. What’s available in the garden centre on the day, what do I have in the stash awaiting planting, what is already there. All of those factors came into play.

  14. Dorothy Borders May 9, 2016 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Progress! It is so satisfying, isn’t it?

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      It certainly is. Little by little.

  15. Julieanne May 9, 2016 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    That’s some improvement. You don’t do anything by halves, do you Jessica?! I wish we could capture and distill some of your energy.

    It is a wonderful improvement and once the plants fill out you probably won’t see the bins.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      The bins are going to move. Plus there are some lonicera plants around there which I fancy I can relocate to make a screening hedge. But right at this moment that is too many spoons.

  16. Diana Studer May 9, 2016 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    frankly, if you hadn’t mentioned them, I wouldn’t even have SEEN the bins.

    I do look forward to seeing that blue Clematis when it flowers.

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      I did wonder today if the clematis might already have a flower bud.. would be wonderful to see a bloom this year.

  17. Julie May 9, 2016 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    Love your plant choices Jessica, your husband has done a wonderful job on the wall too. This is the first time I’ve registered you have 84 steps, you must have amazing thighs!

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Aching thighs!

  18. Josephine May 10, 2016 at 1:49 am - Reply

    What a difference all the clearing of the old vines and greenery have made, the clematis will give that beautiful pop of color when looking outside the kitchen window. Hope the ankle is healing !

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      The ankle is taking far too long.. hope yours is doing better! Thanks Jo.

  19. Kris P May 10, 2016 at 4:32 am - Reply

    It’s a lovely space – or it will be, once you’re done with it. You’ve already made great progress despite your recent injury. I imagine that you can find a way to hide those trash bins if you care to – another lattice with a vine perhaps?

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      They are going to move back into the shrubbery and hopefully out of sight. The clearing that we did just exposed something we should have done long ago. Plus there is an uplighter in that area. Bins lit up at night…? Nooo!

  20. Cathy May 10, 2016 at 7:13 am - Reply

    Lovely plant choices as the others say – looking forward to pictures of ‘Frances Rives’ next spring (also the strelitzias – how exciting). Isn’t it funny how we on a steep slope know how many steps we have? Or maybe not so funny …

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      Sad? There are fewer steps after a glass of wine though.

  21. Sam May 10, 2016 at 7:59 am - Reply

    I do hope you’re on the mend, Jessica. It must be so frustrating but you’re right to take it slowly. Not that this recent project is easy! It looks fabulous and it must be lovely to look at it while you’re in the kitchen and imagine all the colour to come. I wouldn’t have noticed the bins… I’m sure you’ll come up with a great disguise. Sam x

    • Jessica May 10, 2016 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      I am told that the extended length of time to healing is self inflicted but you’re right, so frustrating. As you’ll remember from your toe.

  22. Sue Garrett May 10, 2016 at 9:01 am - Reply

    Isn’t it satisfying to get a messy area tidy and newly planted?mNow there is the anticipation of waiting for all those lovely flowers.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 10:54 am - Reply

      And today it is getting nicely watered in by the rain. Perfect.

  23. homeslip May 10, 2016 at 9:36 am - Reply

    What a thoroughly worthwhile and satisfying job – the new planting is looking lovely already. I’ve said it before, but you and Mike make a great team!

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Thanks Sarah. Working on small areas at a time is very satisfying. Unfortunately the slugs have found it already though!

  24. Pauline May 10, 2016 at 9:39 am - Reply

    It’s lovely to see your plans coming to fruition, by next year your new border will be wonderful! Planning a new border is always exciting, plus the buying of new plants, you are both working so hard, don’t do too much too soon.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:01 am - Reply

      I hope that by planting it out this early in the season it will establish and fill out nice and quickly. Today’s rain will help.

  25. derrickjknight May 10, 2016 at 9:54 am - Reply

    How is the foot bearing up? We put in Hot Chocolate last year. It is rather beautiful

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:03 am - Reply

      I think it’s getting better.. slowly! Thanks. There are flower buds on Hot Chocolate too, looking forward to seeing it bloom.

  26. Jacqueline May 10, 2016 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Wha a lovely little area and, it’s going to look beautiful when it matures…….. another reason to visit Burnoose perhaps { or have you put enough plants in ? } ?!!!!!
    I did hours and hours in the garden last week and then, on saturday, sprained my ankle, falling down the garden steps, resulting in a rainbow bruised foot, I can’t walk, can’t drive and have to keep my ankle elevated with ice packs !!!!!!!! XXXX

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:07 am - Reply

      I’ve left gaps in the border specifically to accommodate future nursery visits, definitely including Burncoose. I’m sorry to hear you’ve injured your ankle too. It takes a long time to heal, although you are doing all the right things to assist. Unlike some perhaps. 🙁

  27. Linda P. May 10, 2016 at 10:57 am - Reply

    A satisfying ‘little’ project (which included a trip to the garden centre) when at the end of it you can look out of the window and see a lovely clean stone wall where new climbers can grow up and a lot of new planting that will give pleasure later in the year.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:19 am - Reply

      The wall looks so much better now, the old paint was a real eyesore. It gives a much improved backdrop to the border. Thanks Linda.

  28. Backlane Notebook May 10, 2016 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Love that early clematis and I especially like the wall trellis.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:21 am - Reply

      I’m hoping it won’t take the clematis too long to fill it. Better with two I think, especially as alpina has fairly delicate foliage.

  29. Brian Skeys May 10, 2016 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    It is interesting how completing one garden job can create others!
    How is the ankle?

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:24 am - Reply

      It’s always the way Brian! Ankle is slowly improving, thanks. It’s very hard to keep off of it though. There aren’t too many sedentary jobs at this time of year.

  30. Brenda May 10, 2016 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    I hope your ankle is healing.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:25 am - Reply

      Not as rapidly as yours. Must remember to look up yoga.. thanks Brenda.

  31. Jo May 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    These self-contained jobs are never what they seem, are they? It’s looking great already though with the new plantings and it will look even better once they get established. Hope the ankle is feeling better.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:26 am - Reply

      With all this rain today the plants will have doubled in size by the next time I look! Thanks Jo.

  32. Chel @ Sweetbriar Dreams May 10, 2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Sorry I’ve been a little absent lately with comments. It’s so lovely to see your garden’s colours coming along and new areas being planted up. Your photos are amazing as ever. Take care my lovely xx

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:43 am - Reply

      You too Chel. I’m beginning to understand how frustrated you were all those weeks with your feet propped up!

  33. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener May 10, 2016 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    I love those trellises. That area will be quite lovely when everything grows in (dustbins be damned). Going to look up ‘Desdemona’ right now.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:47 am - Reply

      If Desdemona stays where I’ve ‘temporarily’ planted her, and does her thing, she should do a partial job of covering the bins. She’s a four footer. It all depends on the degree of pink..

  34. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener May 10, 2016 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Have looked up ‘Desdemona’ and am now attempting to find it available for purchase on this side of the pond. It appears you’ve pulled a ‘Hot Chocolate’ on me.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Good luck. I’ve seen David Austin roses on many US blogs so you should be able to find it. We can compare notes!

      • Erin @ The Impatient Gardener May 11, 2016 at 5:06 pm - Reply

        Argh …. I’m having no luck whatsoever. Might have to wait another year.

        • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:23 pm - Reply

          I think it is a relatively new variety. It’s probably still swimming.. There are plants that I see all the time on US blogs that I’d dearly love to have and just can’t get here. It works both ways.

  35. Sarah May 10, 2016 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    That’s an amazing transformation especially with you having to rest your foot too! It was also a good excuse to go off plant shopping! Sarah x

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Any excuse will do. Or even the absence of an excuse!

  36. Virginia May 10, 2016 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Love the “Note to self” – a suggestion – would a cheap pair from the English version of the $2 shop, to be kept in the/each car be a good idea?

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:53 am - Reply

      It would be a good idea. I usually pinch Mike’s, but on this occasion didn’t even do that. He must have wandered off.

  37. Freda May 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    There is nothing like a plan! Long term, medium term or just for the next five minutes/ a plan keeps me moving forward and like you I think, while I am carrying out one I am thinking up another! That spot will look super.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:56 am - Reply

      My head is constantly full of plans. Mostly unfulfilled. Ticking one of them off the list always makes me feel better, even if it does just get replaced with another.

  38. Anne Holt May 10, 2016 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    From someone who has a VERY boring, long and thin, north facing garden, yours is a dream! I love your outbuilding and the lovely planters – gorgeous xx

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      At the end of the day it comes down to how much you want to be a slave to it. I’d never be able to travel as much as you do.. there would just be too much to do when I got back! Thanks Anne.

  39. elaine May 10, 2016 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    A nice little project – a nice sized area to get your teeth into and oh what a difference it has made already. One step at a time is the only way to go or it can all seem overwhelming. Looking good.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Elaine. The challenge now is to keep the bits I have done, done. The weeds are encroaching faster than I can keep up.

  40. snowbird May 10, 2016 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    How lovely that you have re-designed the view from your kitchen, probably the view you see most throughout the year…and what a transformation, and…well done you that girl, hobbling an all! It really does look lovely, and as it grows so does your view!xxx

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 12:05 pm - Reply

      It has made quite a difference already. It’s taken long enough to get around to. But a bit like your courtyard, you want the areas you walk through the most to look good.

  41. Mutiny in the Garden May 11, 2016 at 1:27 am - Reply

    Wow that was no small amount of work. Nicely done! My process for projects such as these tends to go in a different order. First a trip to the garden center for inspiration and plants. Then a bit of work. Then a trip to the garden center because I forgot mulch, oh and hey there are a few more plants that will look nice. Finally once the job is done, a trip to the garden center to celebrate!

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Stacy and welcome.
      Perfect process. It’s probably not so far away from mine in truth, going to different garden centres to maximise the chances of finding new plants. With a bit of online browsing thrown in. Other half hates it all, but there’s no point doing a job if it’s not done thoroughly is there?

  42. Chloris May 11, 2016 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    You love a project don’ t you? Even when you are hobbling, I can’ t imagine you lying about saying’ Peel me a grape’. And what fun shopping fot it. It looks so much better. Well done on another great job done.

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      There were a couple of days when I was forced to recline on the sofa, rallying only to request food or another glass of wine. But boredom and a sunny day soon put a stop to that.

  43. Lea May 11, 2016 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Lovely signs of Spring! The first photo is outstandingly gorgeous!

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lea! That Geum is a stunner. I keep buying more of them. I think I have five now.

  44. germac4 May 11, 2016 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Lovely to see your garden growing & all your hard work will pay off over time. Take care with the hobbling!

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      Each year the garden gets a bit better, it keeps me going!

  45. sustainablemum May 11, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    I too cannot believe how much has changed in the space of a week, actually make that a few days. If you blinked you missed Spring arriving! Your new bed looks good, but it is always one job ticked off another five created isn’t it! Who said a gardeners work is ever done!

    • Jessica May 11, 2016 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      True, a gardener’s work is never done. It seems to have gone from winter straight into early summer. Some of the Spring blooms, so delayed by the cold, now seem to have burnt out already.

  46. Donna@Gardens Eye View May 15, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Jessica how lovely. I have been digging in and cleaning up beds too. I love the new trellises and can’t wait to see the plantings.

    • Jessica May 16, 2016 at 7:52 am - Reply

      Would you believe the voles have found that new bed already? There are tunnels all through it. They are such a pest!

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