My (old) house garden…

Right now I am totally immersed in garden planning and I’ll be chatting about that soon, but first it occurred to me that I don’t think I ever shared my old garden, before we moved house. The new garden is a pretty decent size and unusually large for where we live. It’s nothing compared to some country dwellers, but for urban Manchester suburbs, its big. (London readers will relate!) The old house was a 3 up, 3 down, typical mid-terrace and had a yard at the back when we moved in. It was 4 metres square but we had patio doors going out onto it from the kitchen and it was South West facing. We had never had our own outdoor space before, so I was determined to make somewhere we could relax.


Image by Lawson Photography

It ended up being a relatively cheap and easy project. When we moved in the ‘yard’ was concreted over entirely and the developer we bought the house from had added a square deck kit over the top, directly out from the kitchen patio doors, which happened to be the shadiest part of the garden.) There were also some decking material planters with cheap bedding plants in them and it couldn’t have looked more hasty, ill considered or ugly. The pictures don’t give a great overall view (they were taken for the Good Homes magazine feature on my old home by Laura and Peter Lawson.) but you can get the gist here that we created a courtyard garden that still had room for growing plants and greenery.

Here is one of my own photos from above showing the layout:


Image by Rebecca @ FlorenceFinds.com

What we did:

  • Paid someone to come and remove the decking and drill up the concrete yard.
  • Marked off an L shaped border at the back left and to the right of the gate for plants, edged with Victorian style terracotta rope edging.
  • Built two steps down from the back door with indian stone slabs and a simple brick layer to create the steps. (I’ve linked to B&Q but check your local builders yard for the best prices on garden hard landscaping.)
  • Laid an Indian stone patio in the sunniest corner of the garden, with stepping stones of indian stone straight out of the back door to the back gate and from the patio to the back gate.


Image by Lawson Photography

  • Laid weed supressing membrane and put golden gravel down over it.
  • Put in a trellis panel to hide the side return where our bins were stored.
  • Planted climbing plants to cover the walls (Left wall – shade loving Clibing hydrangea, Pyracantha for berries and where it got sunnier a Ceanothus for the stunning blue flowers; On the right side we had climbing roses and a Clematis Montana.)
  • Planted the borders and some pots for an overflowing look. These were cheap plants bought mostly in the supermarkets with a couple of David roses too


Image by Lawson Photography

It ended up being a kind of cottage garden meets Mediterranean garden, with the overflowing relaxed style of the cottage garden but with plants that withstood the dry heat microclimate that the walled courtyard created. We had an olive tree by the back door! The pictures here show it about 6 years after completion so it was maturing and the hard landscaping was blending in to look like it had always been there (along with some weeds creeping in, but hey, that’s life!)


Image by Lawson Photography

It really was like my personal oasis and because the walls held the heat we were able to eat out there most dry nights in the summer. I can’t wait to create something equally cosy and inviting but on a grander scale in this house!


Image by Lawson Photography

It seemed timely to talk about Gardens now as everyone is thinking about getting outside… have you got any garden plans this year?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy: Plan to revamp your garden

This weekend saw me out in my new garden for the first time. I’m characteristically so fed up of the doom and gloom in January that I want to get outside a lot. So far I have been waiting to see if any bulbs would sprout up in the garden heralding spring but there were a fair few leaves around so I decided to get out and rake them up, and after finding that there were in fact no bulbs to be seen, a quick trip to B&Q rectified that with trays of primroses and ready to grow bulbs.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

I am chomping at the bit to get the new garden planned and am bursting with ideas but waiting on the devastation that will be unleashed when we start the work to the kitchen and outdoor deck area. Adding to that we plan to knock down the double garage and create a dining area there, so 75% of the garden will be changed. As a result, I thought today would be a good time to share some pictures of my old garden, something I have never shared on the blog before and to also tell you that the old house is featured in this months Good Homes magazines – on the shelves now!

I was contacted early last year by a freelance journalist who suggested I send in my home to a magazine but I was a bit slow in getting my act together. Fast forward almost 6 months later and I realised that we were running out of time and it would be a lovely momento of a house I have been very happy in. Laura and Peter Lawson kindly agreed to come round and shoot the house and Good Homes said they were interested. I’m so happy with the images and I’ll be sharing more here soon but in the meantime do go and buy the magazine – I have to confess, I’m not a regular Good Homes reader but I was thrilled to be featured in the ‘Bold & Bright’ issue and felt it couldn’t have been more suited to my style – I’ve got so much inspiration for the new house from it already!

Anyway, back to the garden!


Image credit: Lawson Photography

When we moved in the garden was a typical terraced concrete yard with some bizarre attempt at decking outside the back doors that covered about ⅔ of the ground and was edged by stair bannister railing! One of my biggest priorities coming from a flat was to create an outside area and so we paid a handyman £100 to come with a pickaxe and bash up the concrete and take away the decking. Best £100 I think I have ever spent!


Image credit: Lawson Photography

One of the things I loved about the garden was that it was walled, which worked to our advantage in the summer as the walls held and radiated the suns heat back in to the garden, long after it had sunk beneath the houses behind. However the walls also created pockets of deep shade that needed careful planting. We couldn’t maintain a lawn in that space (nor could we store a lawnmower!) so we opted for gravel with a patio for outdoor entertaining.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

The patio flags came from a local builders yard and came in packs that made a 2m square patio area. We bought 2 and instead of arranging them squarely created an irregular edge and used a few spares to make a stepping stone path to the back gate. After the concrete came up we were left with an uneven mud pit and spent a weekend levelling it, creating some planting beds around the edges with a victorian style rope edging tile, underlaying the gravel area with weed proof membrane, laying the patio and making 2 steps down from the house.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

After that the planting was a work in progress. It started off with a lot of flowers and some favourite shrubs but found the flowers high maintenance in such a dry garden (made worse by them being close to the wall,) and some of the shrubs grew too big. Over time I chose different plants – shrubs like the hydrangea which provided summer colour without leaving a hole in the border come winter, montbretia (crocosmia) for structure and an olive tree suited to the warm dry conditions. I also made the most of the walls but growing clematis, climbing roses and a rampant clematis montana around them. It ended up pretty wild but felt like a little oasis.



Image credit: Lawson Photography

I added the final touches just last summer, rearranging the furniture to move our bench (a wedding gift from my mum) to create more seating on the patio, added the festoon lights (from IKEA) and some cushions (from Next) a bird box with a copper roof from Homesense and my favourite succulent, also from IKEA.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

The back gate was our only bug bear as it was practically rotting off the hinges but we opted not to replace it before we moved as we didn’t use the exit onto the alley anyway. As the plants overgrew it I liked to think it gave a bit of a secret garden appearance 🙂

So readers, I would love to hear about your garden improvements and any changes you have planned for this year. If there’s anything you want advise on, feel free to ask!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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