Progress: SoS February 16 2019

We bought our present house four and a half years ago, and as so many friends told us, we had a ‘blank canvas’ to work with. My SoS this week chronicles the progress we’ve made in the garden since we moved here. All the before photos were taken by an agent, so have a professional quality about them that I am unable to achieve.

One: The view of the back garden as it was in July 2014. Behind our back fence is a paddock occupied by a lonely but rather lovely chestnut mare called Cleo. She often whinnies at the fence, being very much enamoured of the apples MrMG gives her.

Two: The back garden looking towards Cleo’s paddock now.




Three: Cleo’s view in 2014

Four: Cleo’s view now. Several mistakes were made in planting trees, including the decision to plant silver birches. I planted three: one died and the other two are finding life a bit of a struggle. As is the lawn.

Five: Front view in 2014.

Six: Front view today. Mr MG and I gathered all the rocks from a friend’s farm and built the wall ourselves. You can see the octopus tentacles of the Malus floribunda on the right. It has been in our garden for at least three years, has made very little progress and reminds me of one of those plastic air-filled madmen one sees at car yards or service stations, arms up in the air and a manic expression on the face. On the left, the more polite Snow Pear, Pyrus nivalis is growing beautifully.

That’s my six this week. For more sixes, visit The Propagator’s site.

Weather today: Sunny and 17-34. No rain in sight.

59 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s always fascinating to see how a garden has evolved. It looks so much more inviting now. A proper garden. Lovely.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you so much. It’s a work in progress as Gardens always are.

  2. The Eternal Traveller says:

    You did have a beautiful canvas to start with, on a lovely large block. You’ve done a wonderful job considering how little rain you’ve received.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Carol. It is indeed a large block for a suburban one, and we have town water which isn’t restricted(yet) so we’ve been able to maintain the garden reasonably well. Some things are struggling a bit: I think it’s a message to me to be more sensible about plant choices!

  3. Anonymous says:

    What a marvellous opportunity to turn a ‘blank canvas’ into a proper garden. It looks beautiful and I have to say what a great job you both did in carting those rocks and using them to create your oasis, particularly with the extremes of weather we’ve all been experiencing on the east coast.

    I admit to a little envy in your having such a large expanse to plan, design and maintain.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you for your comment. It was definitely hard work carting the rocks, but it was also a job that gave a great deal of satisfaction and we were pleased with the result. Also, it was a project that cost nothing apart from the soil we bought to backfill!

  4. You have moved mountains in those few years. The stone wall alone is a major achievement. Love the birches, a reminder of Finland.
    Bravo! It all looks so lovely

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Gerard. I fear the birches will never do as well as they would in Finland, but I wanted dappled shade in that garden bed, and so they’ve been quite successful from that point of view.

  5. Kris P says:

    Wonderful progress, Jane! The garden has character and personality now. Eight years in with my current garden, mine is fundamentally different too, although I feel as though I’m still learning what will thrive here, especially with climate change shifting the parameters with each passing year.

    1. Jane says:

      I know what you mean about discovering what works and what doesn’t, Kris. I was recently thinking that anything that dies should probably be replaced by a native especially as our weather is getting hotter and hotter.

  6. What a difference Jane! You must be pleased with the transformation. Everything looks lovely and lush. It is so nice that you have the before pictures because it is so easy to focus on what needs to be done instead of how much already has been accomplished. Lovely transformation!

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, I need to look at those old pictures from time to time to remind myself just how much the garden has developed. It’s quite encouraging really.

  7. March Picker says:

    I am cheering your success, Jane! I love these before and after (or during?) photos. Keep it up!

    1. Jane says:

      ‘During’ is a good way to describe it! A garden is never finished, is it?

  8. Nate says:

    WOW!! What a beautiful difference you’ve made!

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you so much, Nate.

  9. Pauline says:

    Always a good idea to have before during and after photos. You have made such a difference, I like the way you have gently curved the borders and that brick wall is a work of art. Well done
    BTW it still asks for name etc….

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Pauline, I particularly wanted rounded edges to the garden this time, and to try and disguise the straight wall at the back. I haven’t worked out how to change my comment section, so sorry about having to add your name and address.

  10. Amy Myers says:

    You’ve created something especially beautiful on that canvas! I’m impressed by the wall – it’s so special to get to use natural stone. Too bad about the silver birches; they are just not heat-lovers, are they?! They don’t last here in our continental summers either. I am hoping to use some of the native river birch (Betula nigra) instead, as they are heat-tolerant and have a beautiful pink-hued bark that peels elegantly. Not the same as the gorgeous white of a silver birch though. 😉 I love your description of the Malus!

    1. Jane says:

      Ha! Yes the Malus is a mad tree! Betula nigra is a shapely prettily coloured tree, not easy to find here. It would have been a much better choice for my garden, but I hadn’t even heard of it then.

  11. Barbara says:

    Great to see how things have changed. Hope you get some rain soon – we have had two showers, but you wouldn’t know it.

    1. Jane says:

      It’s good to keep a record, and to look back and note changes. It sounds as though you’re having quite a warm summer over there as well.

  12. Tracy says:

    That is an impressive amount of work there, Jane. I bet it is nice to look back at your before photos so you can see how far you’ve come. Filling a blank canvas is really quite difficult as there is no protection for the plants when they are small. Your plantings have really softened the hard edges of the house. It took ages for my crab apple to establish. For five years it did nothing, but now it is going gang-busters even with no water.

    Did you have a plan for your garden? We inherited our garden and much has changed over the years. I’m very laissez-faire, my husband likes a plan. He quite rightly points out to me that is not me transplanting the plants when I change my mind. 😉

    1. Jane says:

      It’s good to know my mad Malus might finally get a wriggle on Tracy. Fingers crossed. I probably should have drawn up a plan, but I didn’t. I had a vague idea of what I wanted, and I certainly wanted the garden beds to be ‘gracefully’ curved! Also, I had to work with the Pyrus trees and the straight wall I inherited, and at the front with all the box hedging as I don’t really like to pull plants out without a very good reason.

  13. Wow! What a difference you have made! Your landscaping and planting is beautiful – you have really softened the edges and made a house a home. I love these comparisons – I didn’t take enough ‘before’ photos of our garden because I didn’t particularly like the look of it, but the few that I do have, I find fascinating now. It is so satisfying to see the progress.

    By the way Jane, I am still having to put in all my details each time – that’s fine, I don’t mind, but I just thought I would tell you because I think you said you changed that.

    1. Jane says:

      It certainly helps to look back to see how far a garden has progressed, Ali. I am quite frustrated by the comment section with its need for details, and I thought I had fixed it. I’m wondering if it’s because the theme I chose is quite an old one, and if changing it will solve the problem.

  14. Christine says:

    You have done wonders in transforming your garden, Jane. Beautiful!

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Christine! Like all gardens, it’s a work in progress.

  15. Chloris says:

    Oh well done, you have been busy. I love what you have done. I agree it is always easier and much more fun working on a blank canvas. I wish I had taken more before pictures.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Chloris. If it wasn’t for the real estate agent, I probably wouldn’t have any before photos to look back on!

  16. Jim Stephens says:

    It’s always interesting to get a whole garden view when you’ve been looking at close ups of individual plants for a while. You look to have as much ground at the front as you have at the back, which would be unusual-ish in the UK. It’s an impressive achievement in the time and in a tough climate.

    1. Jane says:

      Our front garden is less than half the size of the back, Jim: we have quite a lot of land for a suburban garden, and a bit too much lawn! I’ve been thinking about turning some more of it into garden at the back.

  17. Gill Heavens says:

    I love “before and after” shots. You have worked very hard, especially considering your conditions, and it has paid off!

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Gill. The hard work goes on, but I love it really.😊

  18. Always nice looking back and seeing how things have moved on. I’ve a whole list of plants put in the border in the first year in the wrong places. Lessons learned the hard way.

    1. Jane says:

      What a good idea, to keep a list. I should have done that and I might not be seduced into trying again. For instance, I just purchased my third ‘Julia’s Rose’ after the first two gave up. I’m just determined to have one!

  19. Tim says:

    Thanks you for posting the long view. It was very interesting comparing. You have achieved a lot.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Tim. It’s quite encouraging to look back every now and then.

  20. Wow! Jane! What a great garden and landscaping! The rock wall is superb! I bet you had a lot of fun designing and planting! It is a great achievement. I love coming in at the end of the day just knowing I worked in the garden and it looks different! I know what you mean about plants……I want an english garden, but in my neck of the woods it ain’t going to happen……..so then I look at what will grow here. Have you always lived in Australia? Are there gardening zones like we have? I am 7b. I am also going to look up some of those gardening books you suggested on the side area of your post! I’m glad you took before and after photos, we tend to forget what all we’ve actually done in our gardens!

    1. Jane says:

      Hello Cadyluckleedy, no, I haven’t always lived in Australia, but I have lived here for a long time. We have gardening zones too, as there are extremes of climate here, from tropical to dry to mountainous (although our mountains are mere pimples compared to some of yours) and where I live we have hot summers, quite cold (but no snow) winters and usually, not enough rain. We have quite awful clay soil, so we had to build the garden beds up before planting anything. Thank you for your comment.

  21. Jude says:

    I love before and after photos – a lovely way to see progress even when you think there hasn’t been any. And you have made a huge difference. The thing with a new garden, whether from scratch or inheriting one is learning what suits the conditions. I didn’t want a typical English cottage garden when I moved here, my preference was for a more Mediterranean style, naturalistic, southern hemisphere shrubs and then after the first year watching carefully I realised that my location does not lend itself to those type of planting. Too wet, too windy. Plants I love do grow in more sheltered positions, but not here. I think we all learn as we go along, and you might be better choosing native trees to create shady areas. And I think Chloe has the best view of all!

    1. Jane says:

      There are three bottlebrushes in the back garden and they do get very large and provide good shade. They’ll probably be too big eventually! I agree about learning what does best in one’s area: actually Mediterranean plants do well here and I have a lot of them too. I have been seduced into rash purchases as well and have paid the price! You’re so right about learning as you go along.

  22. Jude says:

    BTW – re filling in the details. If I go to the Settings under My Sites and then Discussion there is an option for comment author must fill out name and email. Maybe yours is set to on and you can try setting it to off. I only use the free site though so it may be different for you.

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks, for that, Jude. I tried it, but people wrote that they still had to enter their details. Now I’ve discovered that my theme has ‘been retired’ so I shall choose a new one, and I might be able to try your suggestion again.

  23. Cathy says:

    Your garden is making great progress. We had a similar experience, our garden was 20 years old when we moved in, but no interest and no wildlife. For the first five years of planting nothing seemed to happen and then it suddenly took off! Lush growth, full of birds and bugs and life. It is worth the wait!

    1. Jane says:

      I’m looking forward to having more creatures visiting the garden, Cathy, and it is slowly happening. There are certainly more birds, and some different types of lizards. I don’t want any snakes though!!

  24. rusty duck says:

    I’m another fan of before and after photos, they really do show how far we’ve come and I’m always surprised just how far that is when I go back and look.
    The work you’ve done has transformed your garden. How welcoming it now looks compared to when you bought it. It needed a person with vision and you’ve certainly answered that call.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Jessica. It’s very rewarding starting a garden and watching it develop. It’s our oasis!

  25. Alys Milner says:

    What a profound difference in these few years. Though you feel you’ve made mistakes (who hasn’t) it looks gorgeous from here. The house looked lifeless before, and now you’ve infused it with so much beauty. I love what you’ve done. Best of luck sorting out the lawn and the trees. What a lovely home.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Alys, it’s much appreciated.

  26. Robyn Haynes says:

    Gosh Jane! What progress you’ve made in four years! I see the hand and eye of a designer in your new garden. It must give you great pleasure to see the before and after shots because we tend to forget without photos to remind us.

    1. Jane says:

      That is indeed a compliment, Robyn, thank you. I’m such an amateur really, and mostly went with my desire to have sinuous curves as much as possible, and to work with what was already in place as best as I could.

  27. John Corden says:

    It is really so important to plant gardens and then leave them to grow. How wonderful is the difference.

    1. Jane says:

      So true. Thank you John.

  28. hb says:

    Dramatic improvement. Your neighbors must enjoy a prettier view. The rock walls you and the Mister built look professionally done.

    Best wishes for some rain.

    1. Jane says:

      Those rock walls were certainly a laborious business, so thanks for your compliment hb, and also for the rain wishes.

  29. WOW! What definite and amazing improvements you have made!

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you so much for your comment Belmont Rooster!

  30. It looks more like a garden that is loved now, and looks like it has heart!

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