My garden, three years on

I feel so at home in Bibury that it's strange to think I moved here less than four years ago. This Sunday, 3 July, I open my garden for the National Gardens Scheme, so it seemed like a good time to take stock.
Those of you who remember my old blog, Victoria's Backyard,  will know that I used to open my garden for the NGS when I lived in London, so I'm used to the last-minute panic, and the frantic baking of cakes and so on.
Here in the Cotswolds, I also open my garden at the end of May, in aid of the village hall. This means that most of the major gardening projects for the year have to be completed by then, so I always feel like I'm ahead of the game by mid-June. 
Still, journalists will be journalists, and there is nothing like a looming deadline to make me ...  go and read a book, or rearrange my bedroom. Anything, in fact, to avoid the job in hand. My excuse is that we've had heavy rain most of the week, so I couldn't get much gardening done.
I've been meaning for ages to put together a scrapbook of pictures of the garden, tracing its progress since November 2012, when I moved in. Needless to say, that hasn't happened either, but at least I can make a start by putting them on my blog. 
The trouble with photographing the garden is that the bits that look a real mess are not the bits you photograph very often, so it's sometimes difficult to match up Then and Now shots. I've tried to get them as close as possible, and I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did.
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THEN (above): October 2012, just before I moved in.
NOW (below): May this year. The white-flowered shrubs are broom, Cytisus x praecox 'Albus',  


Below, a detail of the border, showing Helianthemum 'Wisley Pink', santolina, Allium 'Purple Sensation' and Phormium 'Alison Blackman'





THEN (above): The back garden in October 2012, just before I moved in.
NOW (below): May this year



THEN (above): The pond site in August 2014. I don't have a 2012 picture of it, because it used to be home to a dead tree, which had suckered amid a thicket of brambles. I had the tree taken out and for a while, it was a useful place to have bonfires.
NOW (below): The waterfall as it looks today.



THEN (above): October 2012, just before I moved in.
NOW (below): May last year. I thought the climbing rose was dead when I moved in - it was a rather sickly-looking stump. Now it covers the south side of the house. I don't know what variety it is - maybe 'Compassion'?




THEN (above): October 2014. I used to mow paths through the long grass which had two benefits: first, you could walk around more easily, and second, you can use the mowed areas to get an idea of how things will look.
NOW (below): May this year. The border that now runs alongside the wall was planted in the autumn, with additional planting being added this spring.




THEN (above): August 2014. This little birdbath used to sit in the corner of what I call the cherry tree garden, because it is dominated by two big ornamental cherries. It was always a rather problematic bit of the garden because it was full of perennial weeds such as ground elder and hogweed.
NOW (below): May  this year. The iron bench has replaced the bird bath, and there is a new border along the far wall, which my neighbour Neil sprayed off for me earlier in the spring. I planted it up the week before I opened for the village hall.


The new border, below, is planted in sultry shades of purple and pink, with splashes of lime yellow from shrubs such as Choisya 'Aztec Gold' and Physocarpus 'Angel's Gold'. I'm waiting for a sunny day to photograph it properly. However, it's not the very newest border - that has been made on the opposite side of the garden, where Neil took out a mess of lilac and ivy with his chainsaw.
Neil often works with his friend Stephen Crisp, head gardener at Winfield House in London (home of the US Ambassador), and both Neil and his partner Anthony are good gardeners, with a great eye for design and proportion. It's wonderful having gardening neighbours who are happy to help.



THEN (above): spring 2014. Can you see the bonfire piled up on the site where the pond was eventually built?
NOW (below): May this year



Comments

  1. You've made a lovely garden! The climbing rose is splendid. I could sit out there all day. xo

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    1. I wish you could come and sit, Gail! It would be lovely to see you xx

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  2. Victoria, my first impression was - natural! The garden looks very natural, almost effortless, as it was here for a long time!

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    1. Tatyana, I'm so glad you said that. I always wanted it to look like a country garden, but as it progresses, I sometimes worry that it looks too neat - especially when it is all mowed and trimmed for an opening. Mind you, my idea of neat is probably not other people's idea of neat... xx

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  3. firstly, it seems like only yesterday, well perhaps last year, that you moved . secondly, , what a transformation...you have made such a difference! The garden looks beautiful......enjoy your open day.

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    1. Thank you so much, Bridget. When my back is aching, and I still have a thousand things to do in the garden, comments like this make me feel better!

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  4. Wow, you've made a beautiful job of it, I can imagine how much hard work you've done. The last photo is particularly lovely. I love that the rose turned out not to be dead after all. I bet the pond is teeming with wildlife, it's always good to have a pond. Good luck for your open day, let's hope the sun shines.

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  5. It's all looking so wonderful! I feel privileged to have seen it two years ago so I can tell what great strides you've made since then. I hope you still have that lovely borrowed view of the sheep, a very British view that I'm always envious of. :-)

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  6. Unbelievable! What a wonderful garden you have now. As I'm still a bit in the "before" stages, any advice you would care to share? I'm so impressed!

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  7. So beautiful, Victoria. I'm very happy for you, and hope the rain held off for the big tour!

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  8. Time flies so fast and your garden is looking so beautiful already! Great work you've done already and you've really only just begun!

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  9. I saw on FB that you had opened your garden and hoped that you had blogged about it. You have wreaked miracles in such a short period of time, even the photos communicate a sense of place, and of relaxed style. I love it, and am deeply impressed. I am four years in to my own adventure, and have made a fraction of the progress!

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  10. It really is hard to believe that you have done so much in such a short space of time and having visited I can relate better to the before photo. Not all is revealed at once and that is how a garden should be with many different places to sit so you really get to appreciate the garden from new perspectives. I should have asked you to share your secret for that climbing rose. Or does it just grow that way? I don't seem to have either the knack or the climate.

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  11. Wow! So much work with such beauty as a result.

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  12. I had missed seeing how your garden progressed. Fascinating to see the changes and interesting new bits coming together.

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  13. What joy greeted me when I returned to your site after 18 months. What was once a much loved country retreat which a few years ago have fallen out of love, has now been resurrected and transformed into a beautiful and vibrant Cotswold cottage garden. Thank you for caring and believing. From a grateful previous owner.

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