K's Garden

Building a large garden on a budget

Welcome to kGarden Monday 20 November 2017

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kGarden is a chronicle of our attempts to build a large garden on a budget in Suffolk (East Anglia, UK), which started in 2006. It mostly comprises articles about the individual projects and occasional, infrequent, blog articles when something peaks my interest.

The Original Garden – Mar 2006

View Down the Garden – Sep 2016

If you are a new visitor you might like to start with the About page which has a Before & After photo of each of our projects, and will give you an idea of which ones are more bonkers than others!

If you are a returning visitor you might like to view the Autumn 2017 Tour

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If you are looking for something specific please try the Blog Index.

I record pictures that interest me on Pinterest kGardenPins on Pinterest.

Thanks for taking the time to visit.

eBay Sniper


kGarden Update Tour Autumn 2017

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As the year draws to a close I try to make a post aggregating the articles which have been updated with new information or photographs; 2015 was the last time I had a chance to do that, my apologies to those of you who have found that useful in the past.

There is a link at the end of this post to “Autumn 2017 Tour” and that will take you to each article with updated photographs, if you then scroll to the bottom of each page there will be a link to the next Autumn 2017 Tour article. My aim is that you will be able to visit the relevant section of each changed article quickly and easily – I hope you find it useful.

We have continued with some major Construction projects this year, but I’ve been holding off creating an article until they were more “complete” – trouble is, the article is going to be very long once completed; maybe I should just publish the “work done so far”

We continue creation of the Japanese Stroll Garden. I had hoped that hard landscaping would have been finished last Autumn, but although we got close it was not close enough, so sadly a year’s delay in the planting, and of course the plants getting getting to a respectable size.

This year we have lined the paths with granite blocks, and contoured the banks, so I am planning to plant the Trees and Shrubs that need a while to grow during this winter.

Granite Blocks – Mar 2017

We also made a test of how some Azaleas would look in the Spring

Azalea test – May 2017

Pond Excavation

and dug a pond.

In Autumn 2016 we planted about 60% of the Cross Court with 1,500 Spring-flowering Crocus Ruby Giant (which is neither Ruby nor Giant of course!) and 1,000 small Tete-a-Tete Daffodils. actually I don’t think we can have done 60% as I have planted 1,000 of each already this Autumn and have ordered another 500 and 250 more respectively … either way, its “quite a lot” !

Spring Bulbs

I’ve also started planting Daffodils in the lawn. This started with the planting of 25 of each of 28 varieties, in the Fruit and Nut garden, as a trial, and for cutting, in Autumn 2015, and I made notes of times of flowering in Spring 2016 and 2017, along with colours and vigour, and we have decided to naturalise four varieties which spread the flowering season.

Winter Garden – Feb 2016

We have started thinking about! a Winter garden – some trees with spectacular Autumn colours (soil is alkaline here, so its never going to be as showy as the trees that favour Acid soil can achieve) and then planted with Winter interest. The photograph shows the view from the house, and some vista-paths I cut through the rough grass to check that the perspective etc. looked about right,l and we’ve now started spreading compost and planting some Autumn-colour trees, which we will under-plant with Dogwood and Willow chosen for the winter-colour of their stems.

My favourite Winter garden is Anglesey Abbey – very clever how they have retro fitted their Winter garden into a simple rectangular space.

Pergola Bonfire

We have taken the Pergola down – the eyesore it was hiding has been replaced with something more attractive, so we’ve just extended the Rose Garden where the Pergola used to be (and changed all the soil, of course, which involved a JCB so not entirely “simple”!)

Replace Rose Soil

and on the other side of our “back terrace”, where we sit up in Summer, we’ve ripped out some uninspiring shrubs and are planting for an eventual row of Cloud Pruned topiary.

Cloud Pruning – Before 2015

Box Planting – Oct-2017

Still unsure about the choice of plants for the Round White garden I grew some annuals from seed (Nicotiana Alata & Sylvestris, and white Cleome, along with White Gladioli and Dahlias) and planted them around the perimeter. Turned out that we really liked that look, but that meant that the bed was up to head-height in only a couple of metres from the perimeter, so what to do in the middle? Our original thought of a Sissinghurst wrought-iron frame, and a climbing rose (e.g. Rosa mulliganii) would never be tall enough to view above the perimeter planting. So we are now thinking of creating a path to the centre of the circle and a separate “inner garden”.

Round White Garden – Jul 2017

Lastly I’ve planted some Box to separate the house from the lawn, and the garden beyond. We have stone balustrade on the other side of the house, between the terrace and the lawn, but the previous occupants paid for that! so I figure that I can topiary the Box INTO a balustrade. The Box are all from cuttings, so don’t owe me anything.

Box Balustrade – Planting – Mar 2017

Autumn 2015 Tour: Start – (Box Balustrade Project)

Tour Index

Box Balustrade Project
Cherry Avenue Project
Cloud Pruned Topiary Project
Cross Court Project
Folly Project
The Rose Garden

Thank you for viewing the tour. If you would like to receive notifications when I add an update to my blog, which is rarely more than once a month, please use the “Follow” button in the menu on right hand pane.


Lapageria in flower Wednesday 13 September 2017

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I’ve fancied growing some Lapageria for some time, particularly as a Conservatory plant, as I think the flowers look gorgeous. Charlie Pridham, at Roseland House Nursery, grows lovely plants but he’s all the way down near Truro in Cornwall and he says they rarely travel well with a courier, so opportunity for me to get one is limited. Charlie travels to rare plant fairs in the West Country, and I went to my nearest one at Kingston Bagpuize House, in Oxfordshire – although “nearest” was still a 6 hour round trip!

I hadn’t really expected them to flower young, but guess what? here they are 🙂

Lapageria Alba

Lapageria Alba

Lapageria Rosea

Lapageria Rosea

Oh! and it was my wedding anniversary that day too, so took the opportunity to buy some sheep as a pressie


Spring Flowering Bulbs have arrived for planting … I’ve got a bit carried away, as usual, this is a mix of Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’ and Crocus ‘Ruby Giant’, 1,000 of each which I think will be enough to finish off the planting (started last year) of the Cross Court

Spring Bulbs

I only have this, not very clear, photo from last Spring. This Autumn’s planting will complete the planting at the far end, and i need to remember to take a better picture next Spring.

Crocus Ruby Giant

I’ve got three x 25KG sacks of other Daffodils to plant too, so it will be a busy, and hand-blistering, September. I’ve done a few hundred already, and what a difference the wet weather recently, and back in August, has made compared to the bulb planting last autumn when it was much drier. I will make a diary note that if August is wet its worth considering bigger bulb planting than in a dry year. I’ll also be interested to see if the early flowering Daffodils are indeed early next Spring, as they definitely were not this Spring (2017), although a friend told me that planting early Daffodils, such as Rijnveld’s Early Sensation takes two years to stabilise; because the are so early they are lifted at a time when they have already started into growth, they are therefore compromised in their first year and don’t store as much energy as they should, so its their third season before they are back to normal and that, for me, will be this coming Spring. I’m planting another 1,000 Rijnveld’s Early Sensation this year, but at an earlier date than previous years, so will be interesting to see how they compare over their first three seasons.

Daffodil Cutting Bed


July 2017 Roundup Saturday 8 July 2017

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Gloriosa looking good in the conservatory. There are a couple of different varieties in that pot but I don’t know which (apart from the obvious G. rothschildiana) because I planted a handful of varieties some years ago and each autumn I just abandon the pot, dry, until the following spring and now there are only 4 plants left, so I will restock it with some fresh tubers next year as clearly some have given up. Or I could take the view that the Good Do’Ers have survived, and I’d be better to stick to just them.


and a new large-head Allium I tried – its a boy-thing! (this taken on 10-Jun)

Allium Univers

This is the first year that the Black Bamboo has put up some culms of decent diameter, so hopefully its now established and will be as bold in future years. I’m trying to water it more this year, than I have manged to do in the past, so will be interesting to see if that helps. The regime I’m trying for is to water well Spring and Summer, until the new culms have grown, and only then start feeding.

Black Bamboo

and also the first year that I’ve managed to get decent sized Echiums – I ought to measure them, they must be around 10′ tall




Lilium regale – caught the frost

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I grew some Lilium regale from seed (hundreds of them!) some years ago, and this year they caught a frost. I had assumed they were rock-hardy …

Lily – Frost Damage 29-Apr

Lily – Frost Damage 29-Apr

some of them are almost non-existent, just a few leaves at ground level, sound have flowered, on long stalks even, but the plants supporting them have been weak, few leaves, and a complete mess, but in the main at the start of July they looked like this

Lily – Frost Damage

Perhaps I should let a seed-head ripen to maturity and grow another batch


Lifting Tender Plants for the Winter Tuesday 1 November 2016

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First frost was forecast so time to bring in the tender plants. This is in two stages for me, and takes a couple of days. I have a number of plants in the Exotic Garden which are in pots, plunged into the ground. These just need to be lifted and brought in – although the big ones need some effort to wrench them out of the ground.

Lifting Brugmansia Plunged-Pots for the Winter

When I plunge them, into their planting hole, in 1st week of June (after last frost and once it starts to warm up a bit) I put two ropes, knotted in the middle, under the pot so that I have a four-way cradle to winch them out of the ground with in the Autumn. I use an engine crane for this, and the plant releases with a significant “pop” as the roots that have grown out of the bottom of the pot give way.

Lifting Brugmansia Plunged-Pots for the Winter

I also have plants like tender Salvias which I just chuck in a pot and bring in for the Winter, here’s a photo of the Savlia amistad in full bloom

Salvia amistad

Salvia amistad

Salvia amistad

Salvia amistad

Its a bit of a performance at this time of the year as I have time in the Autumn, but come the Spring, when they start back into growth, there are a lot of other jobs seed raising, pricking out, and so on. So I take some extra time in the Autumn to pot them up, ready for Spring, rather than to just “store” them. I do the same for Dahlias [dry-ish compost] and Cannas, whereas the more conventional approach is to store them and then start them off in the Spring.

Here’s my one-man-work-party! for lifting tender plants ready for the Winter:

Lift Plants for Winter

Lift Plants for Winter

One barrow for the tops, that I cut down (and typically any other herbaceous plants that could do with cutting down too, although if frost is forecast I need to focus on getting things in, tidying the beds can be done later), another barrow with sieved home-made compost, which is all I use when potting them up, and a trolley to put the potted-up plants on.

I squeeze the plants into the smallest pot that will fit them, shaking off as much soil as possible. I want to keep the plants relatively dry during the winter, so the smallest pot and minimum amount of soil helps prevent anything rotting.

Lift Plants for Winter

Lift Plants for Winter

The area where the Salvias are planted has plenty of Spring flowering bulbs, and I tend to plant more each Autumn, and its always a pity to accidentally dig them up, so as an experiment this Autumn I have sunk a 2L pot in the space where each Salvia was lifted to mark that as a bulb-free-zone! I have quite a few Scilla peruviana which are in 2L pots (rather than being planted in the garden) because they are a bit tender and want good drainage, so my plan is to put then in the planting-holes after the worst of the February cold finishes and then at the start of June I can swap them for the Savlias again, or something else if I decide to have a change in that bed next year.


Logging the Flowering History Record Monday 18 April 2016

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I’m sure I make things far too complicated! but I’m a “detail person” and I don’t know another way.

The basic problem is simple: I want to record the dates that things flowered; if I then decide to move some plants around, or want to move a plant to be next to a companion that will show it off to best advantage, I want to remember, during the dormant / plant-moving season, what flowers at the same time as something else – or what will NOT flower until the other plant has finished.

I also need to remember what I have, and where it is planted, and there is no way on this earth that I would keep a fancy garden design CAD drawing up-to-date.

So some years back I came up with the idea of having a list of my plants in “walking order”. I can tell the difference between a Lily and a Lupin, so all I really need to know is that the Lily is “White Heaven” and the Lupin is “The Page”. Each time I planted something I added it into the list, between two existing entries, and I use the number of “strides” from the end of the bed as a distance indicator. I name my beds North, South, East or West, or perhaps NE, NW, SE, SW and so on. If a plant is recorded as NW04 then it is 4 strides from the end of the “NW” bed. The starting end, from which to stride out, is the house end. Of course I have beds at right angles to the house, and round beds, and all sorts, so there is some unconformity in the process – but so long as I am consistent for a bed that seems to have been good enough. Then I have suffixes “m” for the middle of the bed and “b” for the back … and “bb” for something that is right at the very back!

Nowadays I have an APP on my phone that the Walking Order plant list is stored in – I use EverNote which synchronises between my phone, tablet and desktop so I can just edit anything in whichever is close to hand and all the others stay synchronised. In the olden days I stored the list on my computer in a Notepad file, printed it out, scribbled on it when in the garden (if I had remembered to take it with me …) often didn’t get around to updating the original, and then got frustrated when I didn’t know what was where … I suppose Capability Brown always had a Scribe Minion at his side

The Walking order lists work well for me. If I need to know the name of the plant I can look it up. If I take some cuttings I just write “Penstemon NW12” on the label when I cut them and I don’t have to try to remember the variety – I can look that up later if and when it becomes necessary – or just plant the results around their siblings at NW12 the following spring. If I am walking around with a house guest I can look up the name of the plant to answer their question, and make a note to propagate one for them as a pressie.

But … how to record flowering? Or the fact that it needs protecting from a late frost, and do I care that it came from the Church fete rather than Kelways? When I place an order online I get a nice email confirmation, which is great as I can cut & paste it to my plant list … but it tends to include other information as well, which I am loathed to delete. I really should be more ruthless – the price will no doubt be of interest to a historian in 100 years time, but I don’t really need it in my Walking Order list! nor which flowering group the Pears are in, either I’ve planted the right ones near each other … or I haven’t!

Espallier Fruit list

Espallier Fruit – Walking Order Plant List

note that the Pears have got extra Wibble pasted into their entries … I need to get out of that habit … and clearly I didn’t look after the Cobnuts very well in their first season and several died of thirst.

For flowering I have been adding “18Apr16” next to the plant, and then year-by-year I get a list of cumulative flowering dates. If I manage to remember that I have not recorded the end of flowering then I edit it to 18Apr-10May16, but the trouble is the end of flowering doesn’t register with me as I walk around the garden, unless the plant needs deadheading.

So now I also copy the plant to a separate, chronological, list in Flowering Order. That is divided into fortnightly periods which seems to have been OK so far. The original Walking Order lists have separate pages for each area of the garden, and their NW, NE, etc. names make sense within that grouping. In the Flowering List I have had to invent Prefixes for the bed names so “Sh” is the Shrubbery, “Hot” is the Red Border, “Jun” is the Exotic Jungle and so on, but I have grouped the entries for each two-week period by bed, in walking order, so as I am walking round the garden I can easily see if anything should be in flower so that I note it. But so far I have not cracked remembering to record the end of flowering

Walking Order Plant List

Walking Order Plant List

But that was until I started the Daffodil Project – I planted 25 each of 28 varieties with a view to deciding on two or three varieties that would work well naturalised in the lawn, and would make a nice, complementing, selection from Early through Mid to Late flowering. For that I need to know the dates when the various varieties flower, but also the stem height and the greater detail of when the buds start to show colour, when the first flower opens and the last flower starts to fade, so I created a spreadsheet for them. They are listed in walking order (its a cutting bed – I planted them in Alphabetical Order so it was easier to guess a name …) and I used Conditional Formatting to highlight the cell that represents the next “event” for that variety – so as I walk along I just need to consider if that event has happened, rather than trying to record that the thing is in flower – which it has been the last three weeks when I walked down the bed!

This is the first year after planting, so the dates are probably meaningless – even as a relative measure of flowering times – and certainly they bear no relationship to the Early / Mid / Late indicators in the catalogue (although they may well turn out to be useless anyway). So another year, or two, data recording before I can decide which bulbs are going to be my shortlist-of-three for the main, naturalised, planting.

Daffodil Flowering Spreadsheet

Daffodil Flowering Spreadsheet

In other news:

I’ve updated the Long Walk article with details of the Folly we are building

See also:

The Daffodil Cutting Bed project