Six on Saturday | Gravel Garden Part 3

Another odd sort of week with sunshine and fog and varying temperatures! I have been working on the new section of the gravel garden, planting some new plants and emptying all my spring bulb containers. That was a horrid job and nearly every container had a mass of slugs hiding at the bottom. Most very small, but one or two yucky big ones. I found that the plastic containers were the worst and the wettest despite crocks at the bottom to assist drainage. The tulip bulbs in those pots were mostly rotten too, so I have concluded that to keep tulips in containers to re-flower you need to use terracotta or glazed pots. Anything in plastic should be composted or planted into the ground pretty much when finished flowering.

So on to the project which began in 2017.

Just so that you get the idea of the changes this is how the garden looked in May 2016 with the rather large flat rock in the lawn area. The lawn area is about 10m x 5m so not big.

Lawn – early May 2016 shortly after moving in

There has been a lot of turf removal over the past five years – you can see some of the progress of the gravel garden here

Lawn and Gravel Garden – August 2018 from the Patio

(1) Getting Started

Removing more of the lawn by the flat rock (1)
Half finished – turf removed and pebbles scattered (2)
New plants planted (3)

So what newbies have arrived in the gravel garden?

(2) Geums – three new ones from East Lambrook Manor (Somerset), but only two planted here in full sun. Geum ‘Karlskaer’ has vibrant orange flowers from May – August and Geum ‘Redwings’ has rich red semi-double flowers in early summer and again later on in the year. Geum ‘Emory Quinn’ is a compact variety with golden-yellow flowers from May – September and enjoys partial shade. That has been planted in the dappled shade bed.

Red Wings

(3) Several plants from Beth Chatto nursery including two grasses – Calamagrostis brachytricha and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ and a Gaura lindheimeri  to create an open, airy feel. No photos yet as they are new plants.

(4) Two new Aeoniums from the Surreal Succulents Nursery down the road from me plus a few other odds and sods which will remain in their pots so they can hide indoors over winter – not so much from the cold as from the wet.

Aeonium Arboreum and Aeonium Sunburst with friends

(5) Erodium x variabile ‘Bishop’s Form’– this one is from the Bodmin Herb Nursery and has been flowering his socks off since May. Fingers crossed he survives the winter. Currently next to a rather pretty Pittosporum  tenuifolium ‘Golden Ball’ which may have to be moved.

(6) You may have noticed that there are already lots of things planted around this flat rock. A couple of Carex grasses, Rosemary, Olearia Haastii which is just about to come into flower, a blue Geranium ‘Orion’ and Sedum or Stonecrop ‘Ruby Glow’ which I hope will creep even further into the gravel now. And by the more upright rocks are Penstemons and a large Fuchsia. All of these started off quite small (many as cuttings) but now they are beginning to fill out.

The pathway around the rocks (4)

Next job is to return to the nursery for more pebbles and cobbles so I can finish off this area. And then I can rest. For a while anyway.

As always, if you want a peek over other people’s garden walls then please pop over to our host, the lovely Jon, AKA ‘The Propagator’ where you find links to many more wonderful garden enthusiasts from all over the world.

See here for the participant’s guide.

Six on Saturday


  1. That’s a brilliant transformation, making the best of the wonderful large rock that you inherited. I love that Geum, so vibrant. Love the fields beyond too. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      The rock with the lawn drove me mad, as I had to hand cut all around the edges. Now it’s a perfect bird bath.

  2. fredgardener says:

    It’s a very nice job! The change is astounding and the overview is very pretty.
    I also really liked aeonium’s family 😀

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Fred. Who knew that removing turf is such hard work!

  3. It’s all looking great. It’s always nice to see how a garden has changed over time. The gravel shows the plants off nicely and the paving stone path too.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’m hoping the gravel will help with winter wet too, which is what seems to kill off a lot of my plants. There is a weed membrane on the ‘pathways’ though some plants manage to self-seed like the FMNs and the Erigeron karvinskianus, but easily pulled out.

  4. Really interesting to see the evolution and what a difference breaking up the lawn makes, much more interesting, and lovely views you have too. So will you be keeping a patch of grass or will you leave that for future turf lifting? I have the same erodium, it’s lovely and made it through the cold and wet in a pot it shares with an olive tree.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’ll probably keep that triangle of grass as it is where my rotary drier is so I can’t plant much there anyway. Plus the daisies and dandelions need somewhere to live, not to mention clover and self-heal!

  5. Interesting to see the various stages of the development. Your garden is looking good.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks GG. It’s taken a while for some plants to develop, now I’m going to have to start dividing/removing some!

  6. A beautiful transformation. Cheers to your joy for the garden. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Frank. Takes about 5 years for a garden to reach maturity so mine is about there.

  7. susurrus says:

    I love your new layout. You are so lucky to have those rocks, even though it didn’t feel like that at first.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Those rocks are heavy! So the only thing to do was to work around them. I think next year will be the best year for the garden, once I have redone the raised beds.

  8. bushboy says:

    We love the transformation Jude

  9. beetleypete says:

    Glad the big rock was retained. I really liked that feature.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Heyjude says:

      That rock wasn’t going anywhere Pete. It is about 2m across. There is a natural dip which fills with rainwater, the birds use it to bathe in and drink from so I love it.

  10. I love your gravel garden and thanks for showing the progress too – a beautiful transformation and one I must soon follow with my forthcoming garden plans –
    Q. you did not use weed suppressant membrane after turf removal and wonder if you have had any probs – I hate the black plastic versions but gather there are some more eco friendly ones?!
    p.s. you have a touch of the Japanese now without the more sombre palette 😉

    1. Heyjude says:

      The weed suppressant I have used is some kind of cloth that was left in the shed! It has performed well where I want paths to remain, though seeds do grow in the pebbles, but with shallow roots so easily removed if I don’t want them! I used cardboard in the dappled shade border to cover the grass and simply poured compost and then mulched with bark. The grass hasn’t come through. I have since planted bulbs etc there with no problems. We will have to wait and see how the pebble mulch works without the weed suppressant. I want to grow annuals like poppies there, plus some spring bulbs like crocuses.

      1. thanks for the info Jude – I’m used to weedy seedlings in gravel and sometimes there are welcome surprises like itinerant poppies popping up just now though the garden table and chair

        1. Heyjude says:

          It’s always fun to see what appears and where. Already I have noticed a zillion forget-me-not seedlings appearing in the gravel!

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