in my garden | gravel garden part 2

Last year I made a start on a new ‘Gravel Garden‘ inspired by Beth Chatto’s garden in East Essex – a very grand name for basically removing half of my lawn in order to plant more flowers. It started well, but then I got bogged down because of my health (May) and then my son’s (July) who came to recuperate in Cornwall for 3 months, plus family visiting from Australia in September. By the time I was on my own again it was too wet and cold to do much in the garden. This spring I completed the final design, laid down cardboard on the areas that I wanted to remove the grass from and finally, last week, finished the project.

I had managed to remove the grass from along the low granite wall on the boundary and from around the large flat granite stone which serves as a bird bath. I planted hardy geraniums, several Carex grasses, a New Zealand shrub ‘Olearia Haastii‘ which has white daisy flowers in late summer (below), a rosemary cutting and ground-covering sedum around the edge of the stone then chucked a packet of mixed annual seeds into the black recycled plastic raised beds which I was using to kill off more lawn.

By the end of August 2017 it was looking like this.

Gravel garden – August 2017

In May / June this year (2018) I finally got around to marking out where I wanted the lawn to be, by tying strings across from one corner to the other. It creates an asymmetrical design which is a bit odd for me as I like things to be symmetrical usually, but it works. More cardboard was laid and some turf removed.

Now, mid August 2018 the area looks like this:

Lawn and Gravel Garden – August 2018
New ‘path’ laid at the end of the raised bed with rocks on the right  in which I will plant Sempervivums. On the left-hand side I have since planted Heuchera, Tiarella and Heucherella and spread bark over the ground.

The gravel path has been widened somewhat so that the lawn now is mostly a grassed path from the shed to the patio. Plus extra width where the rotary drier is situated. The raised beds have been pushed together to create a 1m x 2m bed and planted up with bee and butterfly friendly plants all in the colour scheme of pink, blue and purple. I am hoping that next year this will be quite beautiful and edging plants like geranium and nepeta will hide the black. If not I may try removing the bed altogether once the plants have established themselves. The area under the Kilmarnock Willow tree has been enlarged and edged with rocks and pebbles with Heuchera, Heucherella and Tiarella plants along the edge, hoping these will spread out. They have done well under the Corkscrew Hazel so they should. The fence is still quite bare here, I had planted a couple of climbers last year, one, a Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) appeared to have died in the snowy weather, but I have recently noticed a shoot near the base of the plant so fingers crossed. The other climber is slowly making its way up the fence and I have completely forgotten what it is! Next year I might attempt to grow a few annual climbers here or possibly a white Passion Flower.

So, what’s next I hear you say…


  1. beetleypete says:

    You have transformed that side of the garden into an attractive and interesting space, Jude. Well done indeed. You continue to make me feel guilty for neglecting our own garden. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’m just passionate about plants Pete. No need to feel guilty. 😉

      1. beetleypete says:

        I wish I had that passion, but I suppose mine is for films. 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          Wouldn’t do for us all to be the same 🙂

  2. Beautiful photos Jude. What a transformation in your garden

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks QG. I’m rather glad this bit is over, now on to the rest of the garden!

  3. jennypellett says:

    Wow, a lot of work there, Jude. It looks fabulous.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I wasn’t expecting it to take a year, but I’m quite happy with the results. Still more to do in other parts which will keep me busy 😊

  4. Ali says:

    It looks beautiful, Jude! I love your Pelargoniums.

  5. Su Leslie says:

    Beautiful transformation Jude, and lovely photos to document it.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Su. It has been very handy documenting the garden over the months to see what has changed and what’s growing. There are other areas which need my attention now!

      1. Su Leslie says:

        Your passion for this really shines through. Next time you’re in NZ perhaps I can get a garden consultation with you 😀

        1. Heyjude says:

          I am trying to incorporate a few NZ plants into the garden 🙂

        2. Su Leslie says:

          Lovely. I guess a lot of our coastal plants would grow quite well in Cornwall. Hopefully our natives don’t prove as invasively successful as many exotic plants have here.

  6. restlessjo says:

    Goodness, you have been industrious, Jude, and it really is turning out quite beautifully. Packed with wonderful plants. An Open Garden of the future? I’d pay! 🙂 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      You wouldn’t need to pay Jo, it’s not very big! Goodness knows how it takes me a couple of hours to wander round dead-heading and weeding!

      1. restlessjo says:

        And simply enjoying. We’re in the pub. Just done a big garden measure xx

        1. Heyjude says:

          I thought he had retired with you going to the Algarve? Enjoy your lunch and/or pint!

        2. restlessjo says:

          Well he never says no when he gets a phone call. He mostly likes doing it xx

        3. Heyjude says:

          Perhaps I should phone him then 😉

        4. restlessjo says:

          Feel free! Would you believe we’ve just been invited to a ceilidh on Sunday night? One-footed 😂

  7. Gravel garden was perfect for this summer – really enjoyed seeing the work in progress too. the rock makes perfect statement centre for that very nice mix of flowers you have. I have developed a passion for sempervivums this year not least because they work so well on a london windowsill. P.s. the other great thing about gravel gardens is how many seedlings will take root there – a ready made nursery for you to pull and plant later.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you Laura. Sadly my ground is normally quite moist so the normal gravel garden plants aren’t suitable, so I am trying those plants that should enjoy this type of soil. Most of the gravel has a weed-control membrane underneath to stop seedlings (it is always the ones I don’t want that appear to self-seed here).

      1. am surprised you did not go for a bog garden – they are rather lovely too & excellent for wildlife
        the weed control membrane stops the underneathers from popping up but I used to find self seeders happily starting out life in the gravel

        1. Heyjude says:

          A bog garden might have been better, but I had in my head a Mediterranean garden with South African and Australian plants. Only once I realised just how moist the soil is did I understand that was probably not the best plan. I do have an idea for a small natural pond though where the moisture loving plants already grow.

  8. bushboy says:

    Wonderful. The added benefit of less mowing. I’m with Jo…..if I was there I’d pay for an Open Garden as well.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Haha… would take you about five minutes to walk around! But thank you for the kind comment Brian.

      1. bushboy says:

        Perhaps ten as I tend to stroll around gardens 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          Maybe fifteen then if you stop to take photos!

        2. bushboy says:

          and that I would

  9. Joanne Sisco says:

    Jude, your garden is lovely and reflects all the effort you put into it!! You’ve transformed a tidy, but ordinary space into a peaceful little garden haven!

    btw – brilliant use of cardboard!! 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Had to drink a lot of wine to accumulate enough cardboard Jo 😀

      1. Joanne Sisco says:

        It’s a tough job …. I commend you for your dedication 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          Thank you [takes a bow]

  10. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I enjoyed seeing the photos of your garden, Jude. It’s such a good idea to make a record of what you do to document changes and progress.The bright blue pot is a very nice touch.

    1. Heyjude says:

      The blue pot(s) have been purchased for next year’s tulips! It is good to look back and see the changes, you forget what was flowering when! (Or at least I do… 🙂 )

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