New home, new garden…

Liz Fielding's new garden started as a messNew garden: with silver bells and cockle shells?

None of those here, when I moved into my new home last summer. The garden was  just a big neglected mess.

The first job was to clear out the weeds and paint the wall. When I say “I”, I confess I called upon the lovely Robert,  who got to work with a some serious tools and, once he’d cleared the bed, a paintbrush.

Liz Fielding's new garden after tough love and paintHere, with a little November sunshine to light it up, is the result.

All he left were a few plants hardy enough to survive the neglect. (I’m trying not to think about the huge store of weed seeds lying in wait for my hoe!)

There is a large deep pink hydrangea, a couple of buddleias to attract the butterflies and a well grown Clematis montana. It was in full bloom when I viewed the property last year and is just about to give me joy.

To begin at the beginning…

spring bulbs in the new gardenBut, back to last November. Once the ground had been cleared, my first job was a scramble to get in spring flowering bulbs. I chose tete-a-tete daffodils, a firm favourite and so hardy. Where the bigger daffodils get blown about and battered by wind and rain, the tetes just stand up and take it!

grape hyacinths and tulips in new gardenI added a load of grape hyacinths, the really deep blue ones. I have a large potful of those, too. Then tulips. I ordered the daffodils and hyacinths in plenty of time and had them ready to go, but It was getting a bit late. The garden centres had switched to Christmas stuff but I found some at one of my favourite online suppliers and in they went.

And up they came!

The new garden plan…

Clematis urophylla 'Winter Beauty'My plan, such as it is – like writing, I tend to garden by the seat of my pants – is to have mostly permanent planting with evergreens for all year interest.

The first to go in was the winter-flowering evergreen Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’. It’s the one with small white bell-like flowers. It will be next winter before it blooms but it will be worth the wait. 

That is what gardening is all about. Patience.

I’m enjoying the plants that someone planted when the garden was new about fifteen years ago. I want the garden to be a joy for whoever comes after me. And for the people who walk past to visit the chiropractice in the house next door. 

All year round interest in the new garden…

myrtle flowersI planted a Wintersweet which has tiny white sweet scented flowers, and a Myrtle (pictured here) which is one of my favourite shrubs.

A sprig of myrtle is always added to royal wedding bouquets. I left a couple behind when we moved from Wales, and it’s wonderful to have one again. The scent is unbelievable.

And there’s a Pieris forestii ‘Flame of the Forest’, another favourite. White panicles of flowers in spring and then the new leaves are bright red.

In the mid-range I’ve planted euphorbias, geums, hellebores, salvias, scabious and roses. There’s a  peony, too.  I’ve never had any luck with peonies in the past, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this one is going to be a joy.


single white rosesI’ve gone for single roses for the bees and other pollinators – a yellow one placed to scramble over my little garden shed and a white one. I love the way that white roses glow in the twilight.

I have lavender to plant, too. It’s been a bit cold to get out in the last week and I’ve been putting it off. Hands up to being a fair weather gardener!

I’ve put bird feeders high in the buddleia, because ground feeding attracted the kind of wildlife I can do without. I’ve just spotted a very fat pigeon having a nose around beneath them!

Because that’s the other wonderful thing. The garden is raised and it’s at my eye-level as I look out of my study window.


bright orange azalea flowersFor colour there are azaleas. The small, evergreen ones in vivid pink and orange and I have a fabulous tall orange deciduous one that was a Mother’s Day gift. I know exactly where to put it, but I’m waiting for it to finish flowering before I move it.

Along the edge of the garden I have planted creeping phlox, Anemone blanda (love that electric blue), heuchera, saxifrage and snowdrop anemones (Anemone sylvestris) which I’ve never grown before but are pure delight.

snowdrop anemone flowerI have stuck in a packet of nasturtium seeds to trail down the wall in the summer (a few have made an appearance). I have forget-me-not seeds to scatter and calendula, whiich will make themselves at home and fill in the gaps for years to come. I’ve also started sowing perennials to plant out in the autumn so that next year I’ll have lupins. And my hares have a new home.

sculpted hares in Liz Fielding's new gardenI have pots, too, with roses, grasses (I need more grasses!) a bamboo and some buddleias that apparently think they’re wisteria. I’ll be interested to see how those turn out. And I have a little hazel contorta that was such a steal at the local garden centre a couple of weeks ago it would have been rude not to buy one. Oh, and an actual wisteria!

Every week there is something new to see as the things I planted last autumn (and had in some cases forgotten) start to do their thing.

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray love, remember:
and pansies, for thoughts.

pansies, for thoughtsbee on lavender, still to come in the new gardenMy little courtyard is going to be a gorgeous place to sit when it gets a little warmer. Scented, and full of buzzy life.

And, because a garden is a place not just to sit and plan, but to think and remember,  I have pansies and rosemary  (which I’ve always planted by my garden gate).

Liz Fielding


15 thoughts on “New home, new garden…

  1. Sophie

    Liz, this sounds absolutely gorgeous! And brilliantly planned, too.

    Oddly, I too have a wintersweet. For many years, my partner and I used to visit Oxford together in late winter/early spring and we would wander round the gorgeous gardens of his old college. The wintersweet there always had lots of pods on it, and I would collect a couple and try to grow the seeds. (I just love growing stuff from seeds and cuttings.) Just one wintersweet survives. I repotted it last year and hope that its new pot is big enough to keep it happy for the rest of its natural life!

    1. Liz

      How lovely, Sophie. There is something so special about a plant you’ve grown from seed and has a memory attached.

  2. lesley2cats

    It does sound gorgeous, Liz. I loved my Montana, but in the garden re-design 13 years ago it went. I’ve never managed to grow another one. And I’ve wanted a Myrtle for ages, but haven’t got anywhere to put one.

  3. Helena Fairfax

    Thanks for this lovely post, Liz. It’s come just at the right time for me, as we moved into a new house last month. The garden is a weed- and rubble-filled wilderness. I love your suggestions, especially the myrtle and the wintersweet, and I’ve bookmarked this page for inspiration. Wishing you much joy in your garden.

    1. Liz Fielding

      Good luck with your new garden, Helena. I wanted plenty of evergreen plants to keep winter interest and was salivating at the television coverage of Chelsea this year. So much inspiration!

  4. Joanna

    Have made notes of some of these, Liz. May have to grow your Clematis Winter Beauty in a pot though, so I can bring it in in the winter as it’s too cold for it here. Then again, a clematis flowering in my conservatory in winter would be a delight. Thank you.

  5. Sophie Claire

    Great post, Liz. I’ve never heard of a winter-flowering clematis – it will be perfect for my garden. Thank you for the tip, and I hope you enjoy your little haven of flowers and peace.

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