It really doesn't take long

Of course it depends on your terms of reference. A year seems incredibly quick to me, to achieve a full and floriferous garden. But I have had people question me on my garden that I created and opened after only twelve months, along the lines of “It only takes a weekend to create a garden on TV.  What took you so long?”

But take a look at what’s achievable in an even shorter time than that.

This left pic was taken on 12th September 2011, just after the earthworks in this garden were complete.  The soil wasn’t as well prepared as we would have liked.  It was good soil, and deep, but there hadn’t been anything added to it. This right pic was just before plants had been laid out. Planting started the next day.

There was a little compost added to each hole as each plant was planted, but there was none of the wholesale cultivation and composting that I’d normally recommend in this sort of situation. I’ve got to confess, I was a little nervous about the outcome.  We were leaving a lot to chance.  What we did know is that the weed growth would be ferocious.  And it was.  Mulching would have helped, but the time for this, at that moment, was limited.  Anyway, by the 16th January 2012, four months later, this was how it looked.

It was yet to really work on a large scale, but there were some nice cameos, such as this on the right, with Echinacea and Penstemon ‘Blackbird’ in the foreground, Perovskia in the middle and Agastache ‘Sweet Lili’ in the back. What we knew wouldn’t happen fast were the grasses – particularly the Miscanthus and the Stipa gigantea.  The former flower OK in their first year but don’t bulk up much, while the latter don’t usually flower until the following year.  Without these diffusing elements and height aberrations, the planting was blockier and more planar than planned.  But all things considered we were delighted (and just a little surprised) by the results.

By February 20, it had filled out still more…

Yikes.  It all looks a bit ‘Sweet Lili’ heavy, when I see it set out like that.

Fortunately there were a few aberrations, like the odd hollyhock that pierced that plateau of colour, and orange Agastache to make you squint and squirm just a little (top image).

But to return to the original point, it really needn’t take long.


  1. Looks AMAZING! And consider I’d just declared I have no fondness for yellow plants!

    1. I’ve just had my anti-pink prejudice similarly challenged. I’ll post about that tomorrow.

  2. Looks fabulous. One day I too will have a large garden that I can spin some magic on.

  3. A superb result in four months. It makes a powerful case for overhauling a garden with a good dosing of new plant groups in early September each year.

Leave a Comment

More Blog Posts

Two weeks of resilience, romance and beauty

WOW! It’s the only possible response to the last two weeks – our very first Travelling Masterclass, taking in and teasing apart, the best naturalistic perennial plantings in the UK, The Netherland ...

A week of indulgence and intent

Talk about serious re-calibration. Through a lot of laughter. We’re one week into our first Travelling Masterclass involving the hungriest group of gardeners I’ve ever travelled with, and we’ve ...

PLANT OF THE WEEK #26: Thalictrum rochebrunianum

I often hear gardeners talk about plants that need little to no care once they’re established. Of course, I see the appeal of a low-demand garden to enjoy when we get a break from our high-demand li ...