A lot of our gardening has been cutting, slashing, pruning, removing and generally discovering the structure of the garden underneath the growth. Thoughts of creating rather than destroying garden areas are always on our mind, but where to start and what to do??? One area in particular had always puzzled us. It had some lovely trees – maples in particular – but was very overgrown with a decaying tree trunk path and some small box in a seemingly random pattern. One summer evening, as we were pushing through trees and trying not to trip over wood stumps, it dawned on us. The box was defining two heart shaped gardens, both completely over-run with my nemesis, strappy plants (please read that in your best horror movie narrators voice. They are a native Iris of some sort, quite pretty in their own right, but so very very invasive).
These photos are *not quite* before. We had already removed a lot of the strappy plants, and removed a number of self seeded trees
Suddenly I could see it. I knew what I wanted to do. A wide path, bordered on one side by the box of the heart shaped garden and the other side by a camellia hedge. The heart garden redefined, clipped and filled with windflowers for late summer colour. A small stone retaining wall built with stones from the property. Some stone steps leading down to a narrow path to draw you into the camellia grove. The wide path continuing past the gardens and up into the shady birch forest. A place to rest and gaze at the wonderful scotch elm. Well, we haven’t quite got that far as yet, but we have created the path, wall and planted the heart garden out with windflowers. I can’t wait to see the rest of it emerge.
Kibbenjelok is 130 acres in total, with a mix of old apple orchards, the ornamental gardens, blackwood plantation and some remnant bush. I love the wilder parts – moss covered logs, tiny waterfalls and giant fern ringed fairy glades. It’s a bit of a scramble at the moment, with our usual wandering route going straight over a cliff. We dream of cutting paths so we can continue to enjoy it in our old age. It’s a bit messy, but hopefully you can ignore those bits and see the potential that we do.
Spring is most definitely here and a beautiful warm day inspired me to get out into the garden with camera in hand. There is still so much to do to bring the garden back to its former glory (so excuse the messy bits!) but there is already a lot to enjoy. The little bird is an olive whistler. We have a couple living in the garden at the moment. They have a very loud call so we’ll often hear them but only catch a glimpse of them as they flit through the trees.
I’m not very good at posting wider vistas of the garden, I always seem to get lost in the detail and the next plant discovery. These photos are from what we call “the main garden” which is the semi-formal-but-quite-wild-quasi-woodland area. It is shady, cool and sheltered from the wind. Visitors tend to call it “the secret garden”. This area was very overgrown when we first moved in – we had no idea that the gravel paths even existed. We’ve been through twice now with loppers and saws in hand, hardening our hearts as we pruned pruned pruned to let light and air in. Our reward has been things flowering this year that didn’t last – the delicate iris, an amazing peony, stunning hellebore. I’ve got lots more to share from this wonderful part of the garden – my favourite is the weeping scotch elm – in the meantime I hope these photos give you a sense of what it’s like in this little bit of paradise.
She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head And whispered to her neighbor: “Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
Admittedly, winter feels alive and well the past few days however daffodils bring some cheer. Each of these photos is a different variety of daffodil that we have identified in the Kibbenjelok garden – I can’t name them all, so any help is appreciated! Let me know in the comments if you recognise them.