Garden Diary

In February 1989 I moved into a small 3 bedroom end terrace house in Leigh on Sea, Essex. The "garden" consisted of a very large Holly tree, probably about 15' tall and 10' wide, a Fuschia (quite ancient), a dilapidated shed and a weedy, muddy patch of grass, there is no way it could be described as a lawn!

In October 2002 I moved away to Filby in Norfolk, the new garden is at the front of the 2 bed typical Norfolk cottage and is currently been used as a childs play area so, lots of scope.To give me encouragement I thought I would dig out the photographs I took each year of the progress made to the Leigh garden. This is the result.


The first photograph I could find, taken approximately April 1989 from the bottom of the garden towards the house. Since moving in a small piece of trellis was erected to break up the straight concrete path and 2 lavender bushes planted.
Same time of year but taken from the house towards the bottom of the garden. A Rhododendron was also planted along with 4 Lleylandii Conifers which were intended to screen the Carport (big mistake!).
August 1990, the Lavender have come on a treat, a few other small bedding plants were planted but not much else was done that year.
The view from the house, once again, you can see not much actually changed that first year.
One or two more plants added for 1991, some poppies in the foreground, Oesteospurnum and a fabulous Buddleia, with the addition of a couple of hanging baskets things were beginning to take shape. Oh yes, I also cut away most of the lawn!
A Corydalis can be seen in the foreground in the view from the house, Lamium as a ground cover around the stepping stones. The Rhododendron was coming on at this point too.

The start of many changes. The trellis has been taken down, never did like that idea anyway. The Buddleia was unfortunately demolished in a gale, but it did leave the flower bed open for lots of bits and pieces.

As this was a north facing garden the main sun during the day was at the bottom, hence a patio was started.

The Lleylandii were beginning to get out of control! Although they were cut back every year they well exceeded the carport roof and just would not stop growing.

Apologies for "Lester" getting into the shot here. For more info on him and other furry family members see the cat site.

1994 and an Arbor is constructed to allow some shade . Over this will be a Honeysuckle and 2 Clematis (Candy Stripe). Later, following a visit to the Chelsea Flower show there will be a Jasmine (Fiona Sunrise).
Delphiniums are looking good but there is still too much grass! Takes too long to cut and there are better things to do on a hot summers day than cut the grass.

So, come 1995 I get rid of the grass, all the edges are framed with a treated wood and shingle is spread thickly inside. A large Hebe now takes pride of place in front of the ever growing conifers, they will have to go!

Patio is finished although still has that "new" stark look to it.

I know just what you're thinking! Why has she done that it looks so cold and bare, just what was the point?

Well, patience!

See, the shed was moved a couple of years back, sorry, forgot to mention that and now the conifers have gone. They fought back and landed me in casualty on the Easter Sunday when a branch snapped across my eye scratching the eyeball in 5 places, very painful. Glad I won though!

Arbor still looks a bit new and bleak but there are just glimpses of what is to come. Sweet Peas to the left as we look and Morning Glory in the tub, lots of pots with colour help to soften the shingle.

Be patient the transformation is coming.

The Lavertera dominates the edge of the patio and there is a new Buddleia between it and the Holly (that's getting too big now). Some wooden furniture and with the rest of the plants now beginning to spill over the wood edging the effect is beginning to take shape.
What a difference losing the conifers made, you can see the effect of the planting tumbling over the onto the shingle better from here. It really is doing what I want at last.
Into the Millennium and another trip to Chelsea in 1999 saw the introduction of a water feature. I have to say that in the middle of a hot summer (I am sure we get the odd day anyway) the sound of softly trickling water is very soothing.
The view from the now conservatory, in previous photographs it was just a concrete patch outside the house with a corrugated roof, what a lovely cottage view.
Nearly there, 2001, the Virginia Creeper has nicely covered the carport, so much better than the conifers. A new buddleia to the left as we look and loads of self setting violets, forget-me-not and acquilegia in the shingle.
A real winter scene, just goes to show that even we in the "soft" south get snow sometimes, not often on this scale I admit but then again it makes a good picture!


Ready to move on? Take a look at how the new garden is progressing in Filby

Please let me have any thoughts, comments, tips or criticisms. Email at