I know I’ve shared plenty of rooms with you so far in our new home including a full tour when we first moved in but one thing I haven’t shown in any detail is our back garden. When we first viewed the house, it was December and Shrewsbury was completely covered with about 6 inches of snow. It looked gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little hard to see what the garden looked like underneath. Our second viewing took place at the end of January. So things were understandably a little damp and dead back there. By March, when we moved in, even though there were plenty of evergreens, most of the trees and plants were still dormant.
So basically, we really didn’t know what we were getting from the garden until we had already moved in. We had done so much work in the garden in our previous house over the years we lived there. I don’t think there was a single area that went untouched as we took what was essentially a blank slate and created decking, a new pergola and planted so so much. By the time we left, I loved our garden as it had matured into a really lovely spot in the summertime.
Happily, the garden in the new house is in full swing now that it’s June and I figured after a weekend of doing lots of work on it, I’d finally share it properly with you here on the blog. The great thing is that we have inherited a really rather lovely garden as is. It’s fully mature, with everything from a large cherry tree, a big Japanese Maple tree and two apple trees to various shrubs, roses, flowers and planting. It’s bigger than our last garden as well – probably about 3 to 4 times the size of it so I’m sure it’ll keep us very busy just to maintain it.
And while I genuinely love the garden and discovering all the various new flowers and plants growing on a weekly basis, there is always room for improvement. So I figured I’d talk about what we’ve done already to make it work better for us and what we’ll be doing in the future.
You can access the garden from a rear enclosed porch – on the left side facing the back door is the utility room and bathroom and on the opposite side, is the kitchen.
Obviously, the back of the house is going to change in the coming months once building work starts on the small extension we are planning in the area you can see above. You can read more about the plans for that project here but as a little update: Architectural drawings have been submitted to the council and once we have approval for Lawful Permitted Development (this is what we are hoping for rather than having to apply for Planning Permission for those of you who have gone through the process), then we can get the full drawings in place to submit to Building Regulations and we’ll have more detailed drawings to get building quotes. It’s all a slow process but a necessary one! In the meantime, I just have to be patient and hope we can get most of it done this year!
Apologies that umbrella is so damn crooked. Can you tell this is not a styled shoot?
There are four different areas to the garden – a small patio in front of the kitchen, a lawned area with lots of mature planting next to that and then as you follow the walkway, you have another area of patio about halfway down the garden to the right and another lawned area with trees and planting surrounding it.
One of the things we love about it is how private it is. Despite the fact we live on a street of Victorian properties (which means it’s narrow and the houses are very close together), our garden is easily one of the largest and with all the mature surrounding trees and planting, views into our garden even from the second-story windows of other houses are blocked. In our previous garden, it took a long time for our garden to feel private so it’s lovely to have that immediately.
What we’ve done so far
It’s probably unfair to show a before and after like this – the first picture taken during our second viewing of the house in the middle of dismal January and the second on a sunny day in June but these are the only pictures I have! Anyway, one of the first things we did when we moved in was to remove the wood arch that separated the front area of the garden with the back. If there had been some beautiful roses or trailing plants that had grown up around it, I might have been tempted to keep it but there wasn’t – it was simply bare. It came out within the first few weeks we were here. Alas, there was a water pipe that ran underground and came up at this location – they had a tap affixed to the archway so when we removed the arch, we now have a weird pipe where the hose has to attach to right in the middle of the ground there. It looks a bit weird and we’ll change that eventually.
This weekend, we removed a small fence that ran along the doorway (you can see in the ‘before’ picture on the left). The entire small patio just in front of the kitchen is surrounded by a small slatted fence which has seen better days. Knowing that the fence will be impeding access to the back of the house, we figured we might as well remove it straight away. Neither of us particularly like the look of the fence as it felt as though it cut the garden into little sections unnecessarily. At some point in the future, we’ll likely remove the rest.
We also removed a weird tree with twisted branches that was set right in front of the second patio area. I’m sure some people might have liked it but to me, it looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. It just didn’t fit in with the rest of the planting and its location meant that once all the leaves were on it, it completely blocked the view to the back of the garden and the whole space just felt a bit cramped. In its place, we planted a Cordyline as that’s what we had to hand! We’ll do something properly with that patch in time – I’m thinking a raised planter might look nice there.
We also removed the weeds and cleaned all the paving slabs with a power washer. They hadn’t been touched over the long winter and while we should probably go over them again, they do look so much brighter and cleaner now with all the moss and dirt removed.
Of course, as I mentioned, we’ll be doing building work fairly soon to the area you see above and that means most of the planting that is right at the back corner of the house will be removed. Sad as I am to see some of the larger plants go (there’s a huge bay tree as well as a hydrangea buried in that jungle of planting), needs must. The nice thing is, there are so many plants and trees surrounding it, that I really don’t think it will make that big of a difference to the look of the garden overall.
Garden Plans for the future
In time, what I’d love to do is replace all of those paving stones with some lovely tiles and extend the small patio across the entire back of the house. We’ll be installing a set of French doors from what will be my office (the current kitchen) right on to the back porch as well so there will be two ways to access it. As you can see, we have another house ‘attached’ to ours but the house is much more narrow and much longer then our own. So this wall will create a courtyard effect that – in my mind anyway – will create a really lovely area for seating or entertaining. At the moment, that’s just dead space so I’m hoping to utilise that space so much better in the future.
Bearing in mind, the building work for the kitchen/diner and extension will take place this year, the finishing work on the second bathroom and office will take more than likely place in early-mid 2019 so the likelihood is that this extended patio/courtyard that I’m considering probably won’t happen until 2020. I mean, we wanted a project so that’s what we got. It’ll all take time!
In the meantime, we are loving our garden. The little patio at the front gets the sunlight first thing in the morning so it’s lovely to be sat out there with a cup of coffee. By afternoon, the little patio at the back is in full sun and continues to be until the sun goes down in the evenings so it’s great to sit with a glass of wine at the end of the working day.
The animals also clearly love it – the area at the very back is dense with plants and so they run around behind the planting all the time, chasing whatever little bugs and critters they can find. In fact, Meisha rarely even leaves the garden at all (she’s a funny one) which I’m happy about as there are a lot of neighbour cats around here so best she keeps to herself. Pablo will only venture as far as the patio closest to the house so we don’t really worry too much about him either.
As you can see, I haven’t styled the garden at all for this post. This is just what it’s looking like right now as we get on with more pressing matters. Previous owners of this house have clearly put a lot of time into the planting and we have so much life and colour in the garden that it’s great we don’t really have to worry too much about expensive planting or updating what we have as a matter of urgency. In time, of course, things will change and be added (I really would love a new dining set!). In the meantime, however, I’m really quite happy with the garden we’ve inherited. What changes would you make to this garden? Do you have any plans for your own garden makeover this year? Let me know in the comments!