Exploding garden

One of the big changes for us in moving from London to Suffolk was acquiring a real garden rather than a back yard.

Managing the garden however has been a real challenge. Mostly the garden is winning.
Although summer seems to have disappeared, our garden continues to run rampant.

I remember back at the end of March when I was dismayed by the volume of weeds, and actually tried wielding a trowel and some garden gloves. This may have had some connection with the imminent arrival of Andy-the-gardener to prune the assorted climbing roses, vines and wisteria making a break for the roof, and my embarrassment at the state of the rest of the garden.

The bed at the back of the house started off like this:

Flower bed before: I’m sure some of these are genuine plants


Here’s what it looked like after a couple of hours’ weeding. Note the flattering camera angle, as I try to ignore the part near the steps, where I rang out of time, effort and energy in the face of ground elder.

Flower bed afterwards: visible earth!


(By the way, in case you were wondering, we were told by the previous owners that the weird little arch is a dog kennel. The strange window that seems to have been eaten up by the flower bed is actually the window for one of the rooms in the basement).

Anyway, fast forward four months, and the plants have fought back.

Think “rustic charm” rather than “unkempt”…

At least the bees are happy. And I can promise myself that if the rain would only hold off a bit, I’d go back outside and hoick out more of the undergrowth.


Unfortunately googling “round blue thistle like flowers that bees like”
did not reveal the name of this plant.

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  1. 30th July 2015 / 4:31 pm

    Echinops – globe thistle 🙂

    • 30th July 2015 / 4:40 pm

      Thank you, much appreciated! I did try emailing the photo to my mother, as my fount of gardening knowledge, but although she claimed to have grown them in several past gardens she couldn't remember what they were called either.

  2. 30th July 2015 / 4:42 pm

    I think you have more flowers than weeds there, which is OK

  3. 30th July 2015 / 7:28 pm

    definitely echinops. The bees love them.

  4. 31st July 2015 / 10:32 am

    Just think of it as a cottage garden.

    If you want to claim bits back or re-jig let it do it's own thing for a while longer and then potter with it's bare bones in Autumn.

    • 6th August 2015 / 9:40 am

      Definitely like any advice that involves me leaving well alone until autumn! Have been attacking the paths recently, trying to uncover some of the paving stones & cobbles, while the flower beds do their own thing. I do love cottage gardens and some of the few seeds I got round to planting are things like foxgloves, poppies, nasturtiums, cornflowers and night-scented stock.

  5. 3rd August 2015 / 9:45 am

    Was going to say that the plants in the front of the echinops looked like sedums which butterflies would also loe, but on second look they're probably euphorbia [the "flower" stays greeny yellow] in which case be very careful when weeding – the sap is toxic. Love following your blog, by the way!

    • 6th August 2015 / 9:37 am

      Cheryl! Lovely to hear from you and thanks for the gardening top tips. Anytime you're remotely near Suffolk (and I appreciate it's not exactly next door) I have many other fine flowers where I am completely clueless…

    • 7th August 2015 / 11:30 am

      Sounds like my kind of day out! Here's a Much More With Less-esque activity for you…last weekend I had a lovely meal cooked for me by a friend of a friend in exchange for me nosing round her garden and telling her what she might do with what she had. I've scored several free dinners that way…

  6. 3rd August 2015 / 10:03 am

    I love the lttle dog kennel, what an unusual feature and how lovely to have windows that open right into your flowerbed! Thank you for being brave and posting about your weeding efforts, we've all got areas like that or much much worse. I often wish that Monty would show us the scrappy bits of his estate for a change!
    Sue X

    • 6th August 2015 / 9:38 am

      Thanks Sue. I'm sure I can provide many more photos where the (lack of) weeding wouldn't exactly win RHS medals.

  7. 15th August 2015 / 1:45 pm

    I think that thanks for the valuabe information and insights you have so provided here.

  8. 17th August 2015 / 7:14 pm

    I have been fighting ground elder for years now, if I had known what is was I would have nuked the garden and waited a year to start planting… Every tiny bit of root regenerates a plant.

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